On the 16th of March this year, the WA Health Minister made significant, yet temporary, changes to Sections 157(l)(k) and 190(1)(p) of the Public Health Act 2016 (WA), known as the Visitors to Residential Aged Care Facilities Directions (2).
Now with Mother's Day fast approaching and many visitations on the agenda for Sunday, Western Australians need to know the restrictions and limitations around visiting society's most vulnerable in the time of COVID-19
Already in place since mid-March, under the Directives, is the prohibition of entry to the premises of WA residential aged care facilities, unless, under these strict conditions, a person is:
- an employee, contractor or officer of that aged care facility;
- providing necessary goods or services for the facility to adequately operate;
- delivering or providing paid for or voluntary health, pharmaceutical, or medical services to a resident of the facility;
- visiting a resident for the purpose of providing care and support (maximum 2-hour visit, and a maximum visiting group of two people) on a particular day AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, is the only visit for that resident on that day;
- providing end of life support for a resident, which includes religious or spiritual counsel as well as other related services;
- performing a duty under a written law by an officer, employee or contractor of a public authority;
- an Emergency Services personnel;
- a prospective resident of the facility; or
- a lawyer providing wills and estate planning services to a resident.
In addition to the restrictions of visitors falling outside of the above criteria. Entry will be denied to an aged care facility if an approved visitor:
- Has arrived in Western Australia, either from outside of Australia or interstate, within 14 days of the proposed visit;
- within 14 days has had known contact with a person who has a confirmed case of COVID-19;
- is displaying a temperature of over 38 degrees or suffering symptoms of acute respiratory infection;
- has not had their 2020 influenza vaccination, if such vaccination is available to the person*; or
- is a person under 16 years of age (unless providing end of life support for a resident).
How do I prove that I've had an up-to-date influenza vaccine?
According to the Federal government's recently released FAQs on visiting aged care facilities, they suggest that:
- Aged care facilities should seek appropriate evidence of immunisation status from individuals seeking to enter the residential aged care facility and suggest appropriate evidence may be a:
- statement or record from a health practitioner;
- or an immunisation history statement available from Medicare online or the Express Plus Medicare mobile app.
The Department of Health also suggests that approved facilities may also consider maintaining records to support effective administration and to substantiate their compliance with this requirement. This will also help with returning visitors not having to carry their proof of vaccination each trip.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.