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Poll finds over half of Australians support aged care visitor bans

A poll held by peak body for non-profit aged care providers, Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA), found 69 percent of respondents support aged care visitor bans to reduce the risk of older people being exposed to COVID-19.

Poll participants who agreed with aged care visitor bans said this was the case if there were exemptions for compassionate reasons and video calls. [Source: Shutterstock]
Poll participants who agreed with aged care visitor bans said this was the case if there were exemptions for compassionate reasons and video calls. [Source: Shutterstock]

The survey included 1,093 respondents with only 10 percent of survey participants opposing aged care visitor bans.

Poll participants who agreed with aged care visitor bans said this was the case if there were exemptions for compassionate reasons and video calls.

ACSA says this poll shows that many Australians understand why aged care homes are limiting visitors into facilities.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of ACSA, Patricia Sparrow, says that visitor restrictions are important for protecting older people from the coronavirus.

“Australia can be proud of our management of COVID-19 but we can’t get blasé about aged care because this is where our most vulnerable people live," says Ms Sparrow.

"At the top of our minds is the need to balance prevention of outbreaks with emotional care and compassion. Mental and spiritual health is just as important, and providers know better than anyone that getting that balance right is very difficult but very important.

"The first priority of providers is to protect the older people in our care. Many providers have made difficult decisions to prevent visitors because visitors increase the chance of exposure to COVID-19.

“We are working through a range of issues with the government and consumer peak organisations negotiating a visitor access code to ensure consistency and clarity. This polling will be a valuable input to that collaborative process."

At the moment, the aged care sector is finalising the Visitor Access Code, which will create nationally accepted visitor guidelines for aged care facilities to follow.

This follows the announcement from the Federal Government, who were not happy with the aged care sector and how some facilities implemented tougher than recommended visitor restrictions.

Ms Sparrow says that this poll can remind the aged care industry and the Government that a majority of their poll respondents support visitor restrictions when it comes to keeping their older loved ones safe.

“Aged care, Government and consumer peaks are working hard to negotiate consistent guidelines that will prevent the tragic tsunami of outbreaks we’ve seen in aged care homes overseas," explains Ms Sparrow.

She added that it is important to have strong visitor restrictions, using overseas COVID-19 outbreaks as an example.

"The UK estimates around 20 percent of their homes have outbreaks. In Belgium, Italy, Spain, Norway, Canada and more - aged care accounts for more than 50 percent of all coronavirus deaths," says Ms Sparrow.

"In most cases, visitors are understanding of the restrictions and we continue to ask for that understanding. We are also appealing to all Australians to do everything possible to protect older people and to reach out to support them by picking up the phone."

This research poll was conducted online, running from 30 April 2020 to 3 May 2020.

For more information about the coronavirus, visit the Aged Care Guide COVID-19 update page.

Do you have any questions about the coronavirus that you want answered? Tell us in the comments below or email journalist@dps.com.au.

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