The 13 aged care peak bodies and consumer advocacy organisations involved in the creation of the Code, made further revisions including no time limits for close family visitors and residents can leave for small family events or gatherings, among other things.
The first review of the Code on 26 June resulted in no changes as the consumer and provider advocates deemed that they required more feedback from the public before making any changes to the Code.
The peak bodies noted that there has been a significant increase in the adoption of the Code across aged care homes, and feedback has been mostly positive from consumers, families, advocates, providers, members of the public, and the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC).
New changes in the Code are:
Spouses or other close relatives or social supports will not be limited by the number of hours they spend with relatives in aged care facilities
Children under the age of 16 are allowed to enter aged care homes again
All visitors must be vaccinated against influenza before entering an aged care home. This makes the Code in line with the Government's current ruling that visitors must be vaccinated against the flu if they wish to enter an aged care facility.
Visitors should practice social distancing while visiting an aged care facility
Visits no longer need to be supervised by staff, however, staff still must screen visitors and educate them on social distancing and hygiene when they visit
Residents are allowed to have a maximum of two visits at any one time
Visits should occur in a resident's room, in outdoor areas or designated visiting areas, but not in communal spaces
Residents may leave a facility to attend a small family gathering if they have talked with their provider, undertake a risk assessment before the outing and partake in a screening process after they return
Lastly, if there is a COVID-19 outbreak in a facility or a local cluster has popped up in the nearby community, there will be increased restrictions, this includes the reintroduction of supervised visits and a suspension of external excursions.
While this review was conducted, multiple suburbs in Victoria were identified as new hotspots for COVID-19, with many areas being subject to stay at home orders.
The Code stipulates that it is appropriate for aged care facilities in those hotspot suburbs to adopt visitor restrictions that fit within the Code.
Additionally, these restrictions can be placed on visitors who have arrived from, or live in, a Victorian suburb hotspot area over the past 14 days.
Council on the Ageing (COTA) Australia wants to remind the public that the Code is an industry standard but not mandatory for aged care facilities to follow. COTA recommends people to contact the Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN) if they come across issues with visiting relatives in aged care or contact the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission.