At the top of our most vulnerable list would be residents in our rest homes.
For that reason, until further notice, visitors are not allowed as admitting them could pose a health risk to our most fragile people.

Virginia Lodge Rest Home facility manager Marilyn Williamson says in spite of this, her residents are coping quite well.
Before lockdown the rest home restricted visiting and put a log book at the entrance in which visitors recorded their details and answered the usual questions about their own health and the possibility of their contact with anyone with the virus. For the staff it was a whole new way of doing things.
"With education and support around it, they became quite confident and continued to provide the standard of care that I expect. So it was hard for them and it was hard for the relatives, but because of all the media coverage they knew what we were talking about and understood, but the residents really struggled for a while."

To provide positive distractions, Marilyn extended diversional therapy hours and one-on-one time with those in her care.
"They were missing their families. When we went into level 4 we were offering increased contact with family via Skype, video calls and such like."

She says by week three the residents were feeling it so more activities were introduced, including plenty outdoors.


During level 4, the Lodge GP and nurse practitioner were available for advice via telephone, but the rest home's clinical nurse manager monitored the residents closely.
"Our residents have a walking group and they did that in the park. When they saw people walking past or through the park, they wanted to go too but did not understand the social distancing requirements. So we got them walking around our own grounds and made the most of the good weather.
"Our residents have kept very well."

On Friday, April 24, they conducted their own Anzac service at Virginia Lodge.
"It was very moving and the residents said it was meaningful."
Staff took part with prayers and readings and The Last Post was played.

"We've coped quite well, really. We always had a supply of PPE (personal protective equipment) and I stocktake weekly and top it up if we need it. I've provided all staff with a PPE kit so when they're in the community they've got masks, hand sanitiser and a pass to come to work ... some have been stopped [by police] on their way to work."

The rest home has posters on the walls extolling the virtues of hand washing. Marilyn says they will remain in lockdown until level 2 and then reassess. Under level 3 communication will continue with residents' families by phone, email or newsletter to keep them appraised of their relative's wellbeing.