Kerikeri Retirement Village has eased restrictions on visitor access to its care facility with Thursday's move from Covid-19 alert level 3 to level 2.

Each of the 66 care facility residents would be allowed one nominated visitor for the duration of level 2, chief executive Hilary Sumpter said, and that person will only be able to visit once a day, every two days, Monday to Friday.

Each visit would have to be pre-arranged with the Village by whoever held the resident's Enduring Power of Attorney.

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

Advertisement

Visits would 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 would have to wear masks would be made once the Ministry of Health had released its official guidance on the general use of masks during level 2.

Visitors would also be asked for an affirmation of good health, to provide details for contact tracing, permit their temperatures to be taken, and to sanitise their hands upon arrival and departure. Those wishing to use masks and/or other items of personal protective equipment would need to provide their own.

"We're aware that these restrictions sound draconian, but they are the 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, adding that visitor numbers needed to be restricted to reduce the likelihood of contamination within the care facility.

"As people expand their bubbles the chance of infection at the Village increases," she said, "and we're aiming to do the very best we can to keep our residents safe and healthy."

The Village was maintaining 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 increasing the likelihood of cross-contamination.

"We haven't beaten this thing yet," she added.

"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."

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.

Advertisement

Meanwhile care facility residents were once again allowed 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 would also be welcome back, but would need to observe a heightened sanitisation protocol.

Distancing and sanitising procedures were in place for the Village's independent-living residents wishing to speak with staff in the reception and administration area.

There would still be no organised events at the Village, and services such as podiatry, the day care programme and wellness activities like Yogalates remained suspended, as were group shopping trips using buses and vans. The hairdresser would be invited to return, but would be asked to see customers from the Care Facility and those living elsewhere in the Village on different days. She would also be unable to accept appointments with people from outside the Village.

Urgent guidance was being sought last week from the Ministry of Health and the Minister for Seniors on what changes applied to the self-isolation requirements for over-70s, as announced by the government at the start of level 3. The responses would be communicated to Village residents and their families as soon as they were received.

Viewings of cottages, apartments and studio apartments would resume, although although strict physical distancing and sanitising protocols would 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 4 and 3. She also praised Village staff for the "superb" way in which they were handling the pressures and difficulties created by the Covid-19 pandemic.