New polling shows that 69% of Australians support aged care homes limiting visitors in order to protect older Australians from COVID-19 with only 10% opposing visitor bans.
The peak body for non-profit aged care providers Aged and Community Services (ACSA) released the findings and said although Australia has effectively managed COVID-19, as a society it can’t be blasé about aged care because this is where the most vulnerable people live.
“At the top of our minds is the need to balance prevention of outbreaks with emotional care and compassion. Mental and spiritual health is just as important, and providers know better than anyone that getting that balance right is very difficult but very important,” ACSA’s CEO Patricia Sparrow said.
“The first priority of providers is to protect the older people in our care. Many providers have made difficult decisions to prevent visitors because visitors increase the chance of exposure to COVID-19.
“We are working through a range of issues with the government and consumer peak organisations negotiating a visitor access code to ensure consistency and clarity. This polling will be a valuable input to that collaborative process.
“Aged care, government and consumer peaks are working hard to negotiate consistent guidelines that will prevent the tragic tsunami of outbreaks we’ve seen in aged care homes overseas.
“The UK estimates around 20% of their homes have outbreaks. In Belgium, Italy, Spain, Norway, Canada and more – aged care accounts for more than 50% of all coronavirus deaths.
“In most cases, visitors are understanding of the restrictions and we continue to ask for that understanding. We are also appealing to all Australians to do everything possible to protect older people and to reach out to support them by picking up the phone,” Ms Sparrow said.