COVID-19: Village to allow restricted access at Level 2

Details subject to change if official advice regarding COVID-19 aged care changes or is updated.

Kerikeri Retirement Village will ease COVID-19 aged care restrictions on visitor access to its Care Facility when New Zealand moves to Public Health Alert Level Two, chief executive Hilary Sumpter said today.  Each of the 66 Care Facility residents will be allowed one nominated visitor for the duration of Level Two. This single person will be able to visit just once a day, every two days, Monday to Friday. Each visit will have to be pre-arranged with the Village by whoever holds the resident’s Enduring Power of Attorney.

Visitors will need to stay in the rooms of the people they are visiting and will be asked to observe physical distancing etiquette. The Village will be guided by the Ministry of Health about the nature and extent of physical contact that will be allowed between visitors and their loved ones.

Visits will be limited to 30 minutes on an allocated schedule to avoid crowding, with the aim of having no more than 10 visitors in the facility at any one time.  A decision on whether visitors will have to wear masks will be taken once the Ministry of Health has released its official guidance on the general use of masks during Level Two.

People will be asked to give an affirmation of good health and to provide details for contact tracing, and their temperatures will be taken. They will be asked to sanitise their hands before and after their visits. Those wishing to use masks and other items of personal protective equipment will need to bring their own.

“We’re aware that these restrictions sound draconian but they are the COVID-19 aged care conditions we expect to be imposed by the Northland DHB and they’re in place for the protection of the lovely people who call our Care Facility home,” Ms Sumpter said.

Ms Sumpter said visitor numbers needed to be restricted to reduce the likelihood of contamination in the Care Facility.

“As people expand their bubbles the chance of infection at the Village increases.  We’re aiming to do the very best we can to keep our residents safe and healthy.”

The Village will maintain its policy of not allowing ‘window visiting’ in an effort to keep the general flow of people in and out of its premises as low as possible. People congregating around the Village increases the likelihood of cross-contamination, a risk the Village aims to minimise.

“We haven’t beaten this thing yet,” Ms Sumpter said. “The Prime Minister and Director-General of Health are crystal clear on this point – it’s a tricky weasel of a virus and it’s still out there. And rest homes have proven to be particularly vulnerable. So we make absolutely no apologies for continuing to exercise a very high degree of caution for the safety of our residents.”

Ms Sumpter said the Village had enjoyed support for its access policies from families of those in the Care Facility and understanding from those living in the Village. She encouraged families to continue using email, phone calls and video-call services to maintain contact with their loved ones in the Care Facility.

Care Facility residents will be allowed once again to walk around the Village grounds and take part in dedicated, vehicle-bound outings. Village Support staff and healthy volunteers under the age of 70 will once again have access to the Care Facility but will need to observe a heightened sanitisation protocol.

Distancing and sanitising procedures will be in place for the Village’s independent living residents wishing to speak with staff in the reception and administration area.

There will continue to be no organised events at the Village, and services such as podiatry, the Day Care programme and wellness activities like Yogalates will remain suspended. As will bus and van-based group shopping trips. The hairdresser will be invited to return but will be asked to see customers from the Care Facility on different days to those living elsewhere in the Village. She will also be unable to accept appointments with people from outside the Village.

The Village is seeking urgent guidance from the Ministry of Health and the Minister for Seniors on what changes apply to the self-isolation requirements for over-70s announced by the government at the start of Level Three. These will be communicated to Village residents and their families as soon as they are received but this might not be until after the Prime Minister’s announcement on Monday 11 May about the date for the move to Level Two.

The Village will resume viewings of cottages, apartments and studio apartments, although strict physical distancing and sanitising protocols will be followed.

Ms Sumpter thanked Village residents, and their families and loved ones, for the patience, co-operation and restraint they had shown during the more severe regimes of Levels Four and Three. She also praised Village staff for the “superb” way in which they are handling the COVID-19 aged care pressures and difficulties created by the pandemic.