Rand Aid Association reacted swiftly to the news that a national state of disaster had been declared as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in South Africa.
The day after President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement, measures already implemented were strengthened to protect the residents and staff of Rand Aid’s retirement villages, care centres and substance abuse treatment centre from infection – including restricting non-essential visitor access.
“As older persons face increased risks of complications from COVID-19, it was critical for Rand Aid to respond with urgency and the seriousness required,” says Rand Aid CEO Peter Quinn.
“Frailty, underlying medical conditions and comorbidity – which is the presence of more than one disorder in the same person, increase the risks of older persons getting critically ill from the virus,” says Dr Carmella Mielke, who practises at Elphin Lodge.
“Anyone over 65 is considered high risk by the World Health Organisation,” she adds.
“It is for these reasons that we are taking the pandemic very seriously. While some of the measures we have implemented may be restrictive and inconvenient, they are very necessary if we are to minimise the impact of the virus on the Rand Aid community,” says Peter.
“We trust that our residents, their family members and our staff members appreciate why the steps we have implemented are necessary and that we have their full support,” he adds.
Measures taken include:
- Entry to villages and care centres has been restricted. Only visits deemed essential will be considered.
- Access cards have been disabled to implement screening procedures at the entrance gates.
- Infra-red thermometers will be used by security at the access gates to screen all staff, residents, service providers and essential deliveries.
- Guards will be trained on actions to take should a person with a high temperature present at the gate.
- Waterless disinfectant will be used at the gate for all persons who enter.
- No social gatherings will be allowed.
- Residents returning from overseas visits will have to self-quarantine for at least 14 days.
“Residents who have been abroad will have to sign an undertaking agreeing to self-isolation and other safety criteria, such as seeking medical advice immediately should they experience any COVID-19 symptoms.
“Any failure to adhere to this undertaking will be considered a serious threat to the health of others on the property and thus a breach of the accommodation agreement or contract,” says Peter.
Self-quarantine notices will be placed on the doors of their homes to prevent accidental contact.
With regard to the entry restrictions to villages and care centres, exceptions will be made in cases where residents depend on a family member to fulfil nursing or other care needs. In these cases, an affidavit must be completed to ensure that the visitor is healthy and not in a position to compromise anyone’s health.
Staff members have been taught about the basic safety measures they must take, including coughing into their elbows. Effective hand-washing has always been part of our care regime and will be vigorously enforced. Rand Aid management also encourages everyone to maintain social distancing, to limit visits to shops and to avoid crowded places.
Should a resident think they have COVID-19, they are asked to immediately phone their doctor or the COVID-19 Public Hotline: 0800 029 999.
Please do not go to the village clinic or an in-house doctor’s room because you could compromise the health of others.
Measures will be assessed on a weekly basis and adapted based on medical advice. “Rand Aid is indeed fortunate to work closely with respected medical practitioners whom we consult with closely in order to ensure our measures remain up to date at all times “ says Peter.
Residents or family members who have questions or concerns are invited to contact the respective village or care centre managers for more information.