Thus far, the response to COVID-19 in South Australia has been exceptional in limiting the transmission of the virus.
This achievement reflects the hard work of all those working in health and aged care services, the key leadership of state health authorities, who have responsibility for the overarching public health response, and the implementation of the responsible strategies that have guided us all.
Minister Wade, through the Office of Ageing Well, has instigated an advisory group between aged care and Department of Health stakeholders and consumer advocates to consider a specific COVID -19 strategy, and this group has been very effective in reviewing and advancing the strategy to this point.
Overseas and interstate, a very high proportion of all COVID-19 deaths have been in residential aged care (nursing) homes. However, here in South Australia, we have not had one resident COVID-19 case in an aged care home.
This tremendous outcome is shared by all in the residential aged care sector, the residents and their families. The aged care staff and medical care supports are to be commended for their efforts in this outcome.
Similar important outcomes are evident in in-home health and support care services provided to individuals living in their own homes in the community.
It is also apparent that a number of individuals in the community have postponed visits to their doctors and other health practitioners over the last few months. Whilst this is understandable in one aspect of managing risk, it also creates potential risk for future health issues.
Similarly, some individuals may have held back from seeking aged care health and support services during this time. I encourage people to consider aged care services as soon as a need for support arises, in order to maintain as much independence and capacity as possible within their individual circumstance.
It reminds me of the old adage, that we should ‘use it or lose it.’ Now is the time to consider returning to, or maintaining, some activity, whether this is seeing your doctor, engaging in a hobby, or just going for a walk (whilst continuing to maintain social distancing and hygiene measures).
I was recently driving through Adelaide and noticed a man walking with a sign saying: ‘Smile: It doesn’t cost you anything.’ I noticed that people reading this sign smiled as they read it, as did I.
It reminded me of the importance of sharing a smile with others, and so I pass that man’s message on to you. Keep smiling!
Opinion piece by Richard Hearn
Former Chief Executive Officer