Covid-19 Things to watch

Restrictions easing, but confusion for residents and village managers as opinions differ….

Since the Prime Minister announced the easing of the pandemic restrictions I have been contacted by a significant number of operators and managers to discuss the ‘right thing to do’ in opening up community centres and village facilities.

The whole the sector is taking a fairly cautious approach as they navigate these waters. 

Each state has slightly different phases of restriction easing; some states provide guidance for Retirement Village operators and other states don’t. Some resident communities are cautious and while others are not, it has been a minefield for operators to navigate.

Overwhelming many managers regardless of their approach are being met with challenges from individuals in their communities who do not agree with their approach.

In broad ranging discussions with operators around the country it does seem the best way to move forward is in consultation with Resident Committees. Here are some topics that may help guide your discussions and decisions moving forward.

Consideration should be given to:

  • the current information on older persons advice
  • Relevant state based Retirement Village Fact sheets, where applicable
  • Access the COVID Safe Plan requirements for your state
  • Understand how the sqm rule requirements will work in communal areas
  • Identify how physical distancing requirements will be signposted and monitored
  • How record keeping of access to community areas will be managed
  • How these requirements be met in the event the manager is not present on site to monitor
  • Understand how the cleaning protocol and hygiene requirements will be managed
  • Identify the likely extra cost of any decisions i.e. additional staff to monitor, clean or manage the activities. Additional costs for cleaning products, sanitiser, signage and other resources/tools required.

Importantly agree on a plan should there be an outbreak in the future in the local community or your immediate village community.

Key things to help you everyday Things to watch

Elder abuse is real: what to look for, where to find help and access to policies

Last month we wrote about elder abuse being a key focus for the NSW Retirement Village regulator. In this edition we share some insights and resources.

Monday was World Elder Abuse Awareness Day and the CEO of Dementia Australia, Maree McCabe said:

“Based on international indicators, it is likely that between two per cent and 14 per cent of older Australians experience elder abuse in any given year, with the prevalence possibly higher during a time when people living with dementia were isolating at home.”

Some of the warning signs of elder abuse to look out for include:

  • Unnecessary levels of isolation by a partner, family or friend that go beyond government (COVID-19) restrictions
  • Changes in the older person’s behavior, with the person disengaging from family members, health, aged care and other services
  • The older person being prevented access to potential supports and modes of communication (such as phone or internet)
  • Large sums of money to pay for unspecified items are being requested or spent
  • Making threats of self-harm or expressions of hopelessness

Here are some hotlines that have trained professionals that can assist you with your concerns.

  • ACT – Older Persons Abuse Prevention Referral Line – (02) 6205 3535
  • NSW – NSW Elder Abuse Helpline – 1800 628 221
  • NT – Elder Abuse Information Line – 1800 037 072
  • QLD – Elder Abuse Prevention Unit – 1300 651 192
  • SA – Elder Abuse phoneline – 1800 372 310
  • TAS – Tasmanian Elder Abuse Helpline – 1800 441 169
  • VIC – Seniors Rights Victoria – 1300 368 821
  • WA – Elder Abuse Helpline – 1300 724 679

Elder abuse has been recognised by government and the village sector as an important component of the resident services that Village professionals provide. It is expected that operators have the required Elder Abuse policy and procedures to guide village professionals in these matters.

This will be especially so in becoming Code of Conduct compliant and/or striving to achieve Accreditation.

DCMI Village management professional development participants have access to templates for Elder abuse policy and procedures in the online Resource Bank. Check out our new DCM Institute portal here.

Key things to help you everyday

DCMI provides hands on support and resources to Village Managers with the introduction of our new Industry Links page

See here.

Unanimously feedback received from Village Managers across the country has been a desire to have a ONE STOP SHOP to seek support and resources relevant to their roles.

In a revamp of the new DCM Institute website the COVID 19 resource page has been bolstered with the introduction of a new Industry Links page enabling Village professional access to quick links in relation to:

  • Resident support
  • Legislation and regulation
  • Industry resources
  • Work health and safety
  • Trusted Industry Partners

Along with the existing COVID -19 page, these resource pages provide a great place to seek information in a quick and timely manner.

As does the Industry News section of the new website. It allows busy village professionals to search for past items of interest that may have appeared as topics in past Village Manager newsletter.


Watch: global deaths from COVID-19 overtake all other causes of death in 2020

This may be the best visualisation of the impact of the coronavirus that we have seen.

Check it out here.

As you can see, it traces the global causes of deaths including COVID-19 from January to May this year using data from the Global Burden of Disease study, Worldometers populations and the Johns Hopkins COVID repository.

In January, COVID sits at the bottom of the table with deaths from malaria (well ahead of the other causes), homicide and Parkinson’s Disease, drowning and meningitis topping the list.

But in early February, coronavirus overtakes natural disaster and begins to quickly rise, overtaking terrorism in mid-March and influenzas by 1 April.

COVID finally claims top spot above malaria on 25 April – finishing with just over 345,000 at the end of May, around 90,000 deaths in front of malaria with just under 257,000.

It’s incredible to watch – not least for the reminder that there are many other dangers out there including the flu and Parkinson’s Disease.

Latest industry developments

Village & care operator Bolton Clarke supports regional seniors as it expands its HOW R U? peer support telephone service check in service

This is a great service that you may find useful as a concept – and if you are in Victoria or Mid North Coast of NSW.

How R U is a program that matches older people who may feel isolated with a volunteer who will call them weekly or twice weekly over 12 weeks, or until social and physical distancing restrictions are lifted.

It is being championed by leading Not For Profit operator Bolton Clarke. Principal Research Fellow Adj Prof Judy Lowthian said the program was based on a pilot she conducted in Melbourne with older people discharged from emergency departments and hospitals.

“We know the importance of social connection for wellbeing – particularly at the moment,” Adj Prof Lowthian said. “With COVID-19 people are not having as much social contact as they did before.”

Under the program, which is already operating in Victoria, Bolton Clarke will work with volunteer organisation Friends for Good to match older people with volunteers who have similar interests.

“They provide social contact and talk about news, hobbies and shared interests. What we found in our initial program is that people felt they could tell their volunteer things they couldn’t discuss with their family, because there was a degree of anonymity. After 12 weeks we found people were waiting for the call and we were able to reduce feelings of loneliness and depression and improve wellbeing.”

The program is being expanded to be available to older people in the Lake Macquarie, Port Macquarie and Tweed-Hastings local government (of NSW).

The project is funded under the NSW Government’s Combating Social Isolation for Seniors during COVID-19 Grant Program.

If you are a Village Manager in these areas and know of residents that may benefit from this service, reach out to 1300 22 11 22.