The world was turned upside down soon after the beginning of this year when it became apparent that the novel Corona virus was not limited to Wuhan, a city in China, but was destined to become a worldwide pandemic.
It soon became apparent that the people most vulnerable to the virus were the elderly. People who were living in close proximity to each other were particularly vulnerable, with the two most at risk groups being cruise ship passengers and aged care facility residents.
The virus has been a dark shadow hovering over all of us for about 6 months now and there have been over 400,000 deaths worldwide. According to the New York Times (11 May 2020) more than a third of deaths from COVID-19 in that country were residents in aged care facilities. However, the percentage of residents of long-term care facilities in the USA who have contracted the virus is only 11% of the total cases. This disparity likely can be explained by the fact that the elderly are more susceptible to the effects of the virus and less likely to recover than younger healthier victims.
In Australia too, most of the people who have died from COVID-19 have largely been over the age of 65. I watched the harrowing Four Corners documentary on ABC TV recently which recounted the tragedy that befell residents of Newmarch House, an aged care facility in Western Sydney. Nearly one-fifth of all 102 deaths from COVID-19 in Australia to date – 19 people – were residents of Newmarch House. It seems mistakes were made in the management of the crisis, most notably, the decision by New South Wales Health to keep and treat the infected residents at Newmarch House rather than move them to a hospital. An inquiry is to be held into this sad saga and it would be premature and inappropriate to comment further on the matter pending the results of the inquiry.
In Western Australia, all aged care facilities adopted very strict lockdown rules as soon as it became apparent that there was a greater risk of infection and elderly residents were more vulnerable in these facilities. Even now, when so many of the previous restrictions affecting the broader public have been lifted, many restrictions remain in place in aged care facilities.
In Western Australia, to date, there have been 607 people diagnosed with COVID-19. Most have been linked to cruise or other ships or overseas travel. Remarkably there has not been a single case in a Western Australian aged care facility.
When we look at occurrences elsewhere this is particularly noteworthy. Although the tough lockdown restrictions have caused much consternation and stress to residents and their families, the State Government, facilities, medical and other staff, residents and their families all need to share the credit for what is a remarkable achievement in protecting the lives and health of our loved ones.
For advice and assistance with aged care placement in Perth, contact All About Aged Care on 0408 093 298. At All About Aged Care, we understand the emotional stress of placing a loved family member in an aged care facility, so we are committed to finding quality and compassionate aged care services for our clients and their loved ones. For more information about the services that we provide, please visit our website https://www.allaboutagedcare.com.au.