Visiting aged care homes on the Sunshine Coast has tightened up in some centres.
Visiting aged care homes on the Sunshine Coast has tightened up in some centres.

'Difficult, yet necessary': Aged care centres in lockdown

An aged care provider in Peregian Springs, Maroochydore and Noosa have enforced lockdowns after six people in the South Brisbane community tested positive to COVID-19.

"Southeast Queensland is no longer immune from the second wave of coronavirus infections that are sweeping Victoria," Arcare CEO Colin Singh said.

"As a result, the Queensland State Government has made directions to help prevent further community transmission of the virus.

"One of the measures they have made is to put all residential aged care providers in South Brisbane into preventive lockdown and to restrict visitors to exceptional circumstances only - such as those nearing end of life."

As a further precaution Mr Sigh said Arcare centres in Peregian Springs and Maroochydore "will do everything we can" to limit team members from working between different Arcare residences.

Arcare Peregian Springs is off limits to visitors except in exceptional circumstances.
Arcare Peregian Springs is off limits to visitors except in exceptional circumstances.

"Arcare fully supports these measures which will be an important part of our ongoing approach to protecting our team members and the health and wellbeing of our vulnerable residents and their families," he said.

"We are practising infection control measures as guided by the Queensland Public Health Unit.

"We will be monitoring the situation very closely and we hope to change aspects of this preventive lockdown for some areas across southeast Queensland as more information comes to hand from the Government or Public Health Unit."

Arcare CEO Colin Singh has explained why his Peregian Springs and Maroochydore aged care centres have gone into preventive lockdown.
Arcare CEO Colin Singh has explained why his Peregian Springs and Maroochydore aged care centres have gone into preventive lockdown.

Japara Noosa aged care centre in Tewantin is also only open to visitors now on compassionate grounds.

Japara chief operations officer Lindon Le Griffon said due to their first-hand experience and learnings with the pandemic in Victoria, they were "deeply concerned" with the recent situation developing in Queensland and its proximity to the Coast.

"As such, we have made the difficult yet necessary decision to restrict visits to compassionate visits only at all Japara homes in Queensland," Mr Le Griffon said.

This came into effect at 11.59pm last night.

"We will review this decision in 7 days and keep you updated," he said.

Compassionate visits include:

  • Caring for residents who become unwell, are receiving palliative or end of life care.
  • For residents who are receiving regular care by a loved one and who assist in providing emotional and/or physical support.

NoosaCare, which operates centres at Tewantin and Cooroy, will continue to allow scheduled and screened visits today and over the weekend, but will re-evaluate its position after that.

CEO Megan D' Elton said visits have been ongoing from Monday to Sunday from 8.30am to 4.30pm.

NoosaCare's Megan D' Elton.
NoosaCare's Megan D' Elton.

"We monitor on a case-by-case basis, or anyone from interstate, New South or Victoria and now we've added Brisbane," she said.

"We will wait until after the weekend to see what comes out of the Brisbane testing and then we're going to continue that to see if we reduce our visiting.

"We continue to monitor both sites, our staff and our residents … we're also guided by our residents. They're telling us whether they want people on site or not."

Both NoosaCare and Arcare said they were making sure they have plenty of personal protection equipment on hand.

A Blue Care Caloundra spokeswoman said their aged care centre was still allowing screened visitors who have had the flu shots daily access from 10am-12pm and 3pm-6pm.

"Obviously things can change quickly, but at this stage that's what we're doing," she said.

Meanwhile Noosa Mayor Clare Stewart has warned against COVID-19 complacency in the wake of the latest Brisbane positive tests.

She said these cases "have certainly put us all on high alert".

"There is no reason to be alarmed, but it is a great reminder to practice social distancing and also COVID safe practices," Cr Stewart said.

"Keep washing those hands, our work places are vulnerable and we can't let our guard down."

Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson also appealed for residents and visitors to continue their efforts to help keep the Sunshine Coast safe by complying with state and national public health directions.

"Generally, most people on the Sunshine Coast have done a great job and continue to do the right thing as we work together to manage the impacts of COVID-19," Cr Jamieson said.

"But as we are seeing around the world, in other parts of Australia and indeed right now in South Brisbane, it's vital we remain ever-vigilant and maintain social distancing and personal hygiene practices.

"Please remember these basics - stay 1.5m away from other people, wash your hands regularly with soap and water or hand sanitiser and ensure you sneeze or cough into your arm or tissue and put the tissue in the bin."