© New Zealand Broadcasting School 2020

Rest home lockdown expected to be extended

Claudia Toxopeus
Village Palms Retirement Village
The Village Palms Retirement Village  Georgie Hanafin

Rest homes across New Zealand are in the midst of a three-day lockdown, to prevent the potential spread of Covid-19.

This lockdown is set to last until midnight August 14. 

However, with community cases steadily increasing in Auckland, retirement villages cannot afford to take risks. 

New Zealand Aged Care Association Cheif Executive, Simon Wallace said they expect the lockdown will continue to last over the weekend.

"We will wait until the alert level announcement tonight before reassessing the situation."

NZACA announced this lockdown in a press release on August 12. 

The news came after Covid-19 re-entered the community on August 10.

Wallace said the lockdown restrictions are challenging for residents.

Under level 4 guidelines, visitors are barred from entering rest homes. 

"Visitors aren't just limited to family members," Wallace said.

Physios, podiatrists, and other healthcare workers are also not allowed physical interaction with residents. 

The only instance where visitors are allowed is when a resident is in their final days of life. 

Dressed in full PPE and under the careful management of staff, family members can say their goodbyes.

Ryman Healthcare Corporate Affairs Manager, David King said they have had superb cooperation from family members of residents, despite the difficult circumstances. 

"Loneliness is a big issue," King said.

NZACA's aim is to avoid a situation like Melbourne, where over 100 rest homes experienced an outbreak. 

"They didn't move quickly enough. But we are taking no risks," Wallace said.

On August 11, a care unit at The Village Palms Retirement Village in Shirley went into locked after several residents began displaying influenza type symptoms.

These residents tested negative for Covid-19, however, the scare was a wake-up call for the aged care sector. 

Rest home staff have immediately implemented infection control practices such as wearing masks, gowns and gloves, as well as testing and isolating symptomatic residents.

More information about NZACA's protocols can be found online.