Visits to rest homes and retirement villages will be allowed under level 2 but possibly limited to 30 minutes, restricted to one to two people and in specific areas of the complexes.
Simon Wallace, Aged Care Association chief executive said: "There will be a maximum number of friends and family, probably one to two. Visit times will be limited to about 30 minutes and in designated areas and prevention control measures will continue."
A woman in her 60s was this week the 12th death connected to Rosewood rest home in Christchurch. Director-general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said on Wednesday the woman was a resident since 2011. Her death brings the country's death toll to 21. Of those, 12 were related to the Rosewood cluster.
Property consultants JLL estimate around 43,000 people live in New Zealand retirement villages, considered at high risk of Covid-19. Rosewood is privately owned whereas larger villages are owned by NZX-listed Ryman Healthcare, Metlifecare, Oceania Healthcare, Arvida and Summerset Group.
• Coronavirus in NZ: Retirement villages in restricted access mode, visitors asked to stay away
• Coronavirus: Rest homes, retirement villages plead for national aged care response plan
• Premium - Covid 19 coronavirus: Oliver Mander: Retirement village blues will fade away
• Premium - Coronavirus: 43,000 NZ retirement village residents 'at high risk at infection' - analysts
Graham Wilkinson, president of the Retirement Villages Association which represents owner/operators, said the approximately 43,000 people in larger villages had been "protected, fed, invigorated, checked on and had comraderie, even if from 2m plus. There is nothing but plaudits from residents and families."
Metlifecare suffered one fatality from its Kāpiti Coast village when a resident in his 70s died from coronavirus. The man and his wife fell ill while in self-isolation at their Coastal Villas apartment, chief executive Glen Sowry said.
They had returned to the village from overseas travel four days earlier. Sowry said the pair were taken to hospital by paramedics on March 23.
Earl Gasparich, chief executive of Oceania Healthcare, said today the key for level 2 was contact tracing: registering visitors, health declarations and temperature checking on entry.
"The biggest challenge throughout this crisis has obviously been to do everything possible to keep our residents and staff safe, while maintaining as much healthy wellbeing as possible. For residents, being isolated and not having visitors has been a huge challenge but obviously necessary to avoid risk of infection.
"Use of technology and innovative ways of keeping residents active, for example group exercises from the Meadowbank courtyard, has been key to overcoming these challenges," Gasparich said today.
John Collyns, Retirement Village Association executive director, said today guidelines were being developed for village operators and residents to comply with alert level 2.
"Cafes, bars, hairdressing, and resident activities can re-start, following the Prime Minister's "three S's" of being seated, appropriately separated and a single server per table.
"There will be an emphasis on effective records of attendance so that contact tracing, if necessary, is made easier," Collyns said.
Owner-operators took their responsibilities to residents and their families seriously.
"Our members took unprecedented steps to manage our response to Covid-19 before the move to alert level 3 and 4 and this continued in the lock-down.
"We put in place alternative ways of working to keep employees safe, including shift-based working, staggered meal breaks, flexible leave arrangements and physical distancing. The provision included all staff engaged at a village, including catering, caregiving, cleaning, gardening, administration, management and the supply chain," Collyns said today.
Where there had been a rare positive test in a village, owner/operators had responded swiftly, isolated people and followed Ministry of Health advice, he said.
"Our members have also worked hard to ensure residents have been kept occupied and busy through the lock-down though innovative activities and assisting them to keep in touch with their friends and family with the help of technology," Collyns said.
Ryman has advice online on how to create a Zoom account, how to log in, lighting and tips for successful communication.
Collyns said the biggest challenge was balancing the concerns of residents with varying risk profiles with those seeking more engagement or interaction.
"Villages are like mini-countries where going into lockdown is easy, but coming out of it is much harder. Weekly taskforce meetings with all major retirement village operators have been held to discuss issues, tips, protocol and experiences and generally brain-storm on best practice. We have engaged in a high level of communication with residents," Collyns said.
Pastoral care at villages had increased: delivering food orders, collecting parcels and new ideas for tasks to keep residents engaged.
• Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website