Lockdown life in Ryman Villages

Residents of aged care facilities, retirement and assisted living villages have been asked to stay in their own households, with any breaches legally enforceable with fines.

Residents won’t be able to leave these places unless they have an urgent medical need. They are also closed to all visitors.

Communal facilities, including bowling greens and pools, are closed.

Family or friends can deliver groceries, medical essentials or care packages, but they can only drop them at the gate for a staff member to deliver to residents.

Suffice to say, it’s a tough time to be a resident in one of these places. Effectively shut off from friends, family and each other.

But the rules are clearly in the best interests of older people. As a popular social media meme doing the rounds states: ‘I’d rather not see my family and friends for a few months than never again’.

We spoke with Ryman Healthcare spokesperson David King, who explains what Ryman Villages are doing to help residents through this challenging time.

Q. What is the status for retirement villages in Australia when it comes to visitors?
David King:
Our villages are closed to visitors. Visits will be only allowed in exceptional circumstances – for families of residents in end-of-life or palliative care. These visitors must wear face masks and follow careful protocols.

Our independent residents must stay in their own households.

Q. What do residents need to know about their ability to go out?
Under Australian government level 3 rules residents should not leave the village unless they have an urgent medical need.

All the communal facilities in our village centres, including our bowling greens and pools, are closed.

Q. What do you have in place to cover their shopping and/or nutritional needs?
We are delivering anything our residents need direct to them, so there is no need for them to go out.

We have a grocery ordering system in place for independent residents, and family/friends delivering groceries or medical essentials can drop them at the gate where our team will deliver them to residents.

Our serviced apartment and care residents will continue to enjoy nutritious cooking by our in-house chefs.

All independent and care residents have received an essentials box containing bread, milk, coffee, tea and special treats.

Each week, essentials of bread, milk and biscuits will be delivered to all independent and serviced apartment residents. Care residents are fully catered.

Q. And exercise?
We have delivered our Triple A fitness class to all independent and serviced residents via DVD. We also have these in our wellness section on www.rymanhealthcare.com.au.

We’ve had Zumba classes, with residents joining in on their balconies or patios.

Care residents have tailored exercise programs in place, delivered by activities co-ordinators.

Q. What special activities have you put in place to ease the boredom of isolation?
We are piloting resident Facebook groups for each of our villages.

We have developed a wellness blog site with activities, useful articles, recipes and fun online activities for our residents to engage with.

Residents get regular newsletters with puzzles, as well as a weekly printed newsletter, Engaged, which includes poems, interesting articles and puzzles.

Independent and serviced residents get happy hour in a bag containing ‘Engaged’, snacks and a selection of beverages.

We conduct welfare check calls and can arrange counselling for anyone struggling.

All villages have a resource pack including colouring pencils, Sudoku puzzles, crosswords, word searches and adult colouring books.

Q: And what about using technology to communicate offsite – are you helping your residents use apps such as FaceTime and Zoom or Google Hangouts?
We have a tech section on our wellness blog (scroll down) and include digital tips in our weekly printed newsletter for independent residents.

Care and serviced apartments have access to Zoom to talk to their loved ones.

We have rolled out new devices, so residents can check in with family.

We have introduced Telehealth for care and serviced apartment residents, and this will be used as a back-up if GPs are not available.

Q: Anything else?
We have organised flu vaccines for all residents.

We have delivered care packages to our staff who are working hard through the emergency – this included staple food items and a few treats to help with their family shopping.

We have made our staff counselling service available to residents so they can talk to a counsellor if they need to.

David King is a spokesperson for Ryman Healthcare

How is your, or your parent’s, facility handling the pandemic lockdown?

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