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United . . . Albany House owner Marg McCornick has been leading a group of six resthomes facilities in the Gore locality group as part of a Southern District Health Board in itiative to keep the Covis- 19 virus out of resthomes. PHOTO:SANDY EGGLESTON

Aged-care facilities have been working together closely to keep residents safe from Covid-19.

The 65 rest-homes in the Southern District Health Board (SDHB) area have been organised into locality groups.

The Gore locality group comprises Albany House, Resthaven, Parata, Bupa Windsor Park, Ribbonwood Country Home and the Wyndham and Districts Community Rest Home.

The group is led by Albany House owner Marg McCornick. Mrs McCornick said the group approach had been very helpful in what was a stressful time for the facilities.

“We’re not working in isolation,” Mrs McCornick said.

“We’ve got a broad platform of facilities making the same decisions.

“We’re all saying the same thing and doing the same thing and working really hard, too.”

The experience had been very positive.

“We are really proud of what we are doing in age-related care in Southern.”

At the start of the lockdown she was meeting the leaders of the other locality groups five days a week but meetings were now held twice a week.

Meetings in the Gore locality had been reduced from two a week to one.

The overall leader was SDHB policy and planning co-ordinator Sharon Adler, who supported the aged-care facilities as they followed Ministry of Health instructions.

“For the first month and a-half we were having daily directives from the Ministry of Health and frequently making changes from day to day.”

The meetings provided a place for people to talk to their colleagues about how to keep residents safe, and ask questions.

“We don’t want Covid in our facilities but we’ve needed to work together to ministry guidelines to avoid that happening.”

The workload of staff increased during the time as facilities were required to complete audits via Zoom technology.

Registered nurses at the facilities also received online training in how to take nasal swabs.

While the country had moved to Alert Level 2 the danger was not over.

“It’s probably a very, very risky time because bubbles have either expanded more or disbanded altogether.”

There was the danger people would relax and stop observing social distancing and hygiene practices such washing their hands regularly.

This was why aged-care facilities were still being careful to restrict and screen visitors and staff who came into rest-homes, she said.

“The majority of facilities have delayed going into Level 2 because of the high risk but we are moving into that now with opening up for visiting.”