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One month into Benetas’ visitor support program

12th June 2020

Benetas Gisborne Oaks Residential Manager, Sheena Mannion, shares her reflections one month into bringing residents and their loved ones together post COVID-19 restrictions through the Benetas visitor support program.

Today marks one month since the commencement of the Benetas visitor support program that allows family and friends to safely visit their loved ones again in our residential aged care homes.

Applying stringent screening and physical distancing measures on arrival, this program has enabled Benetas aged care residents to safely connect with their loved ones face to face while mitigating the potentially devastating risk of COVID-19 from entering one of our 13 homes.

Gisborne Oaks Residential Manager, Sheena Mannion, said it had been a challenging program to get off the ground, but well worth the effort.

“The initial introduction of the program was incredibly hard for our teams as we had to implement processes for visitors to book visits in advance, and undertake stringent screenings of visitors on arrival,” said Ms Mannion.

“It was also important that we strongly upheld physical distancing measure with all new visitors. This was a great deal for our teams to manage in addition to the existing requirements of caring for our residents.”

Ms Mannion says that her team and volunteers were instrumental in adapting and introducing these measures so proficiently.

“I couldn’t be prouder of the Gisborne Oaks community for coming together and doing what needed to be done,” Ms Mannion said.

“We have had some 30 to 40 family members and their friends visiting loved ones in our care each day. Our team has been exceptional in facilitating each of these safely and with all important safety measures in place.

“Our volunteers have particularly been superstars. They have positively and proactively taken on the role of screening visitors and have ensured the new processes are running smoothly. We could not have re-opened our doors without them!”

Through the program, residents have connected with their loved ones over anniversaries, birthday celebrations, and simply over a cup of tea to connect face to face. Ms Mannion says that each and every visit has been something to rejoice.

“There were so many tears of joy from our families and big welcome back smiles from our residents, particularly on the first day. It has moved many of us and we are so proud to be able to support these connections where we can.”

“Understandably, there are still some reservations from a number of our families and residents and to be honest, we are all fearful that COVID-19 will spread into our home. But the strong measures and processes that we are determined to uphold have helped us straddle this incredibly challenging time and ensure our community feels safe, supported and connected.”

The local Gisborne community and Macedon Ranges Shire continues to enrich the lives of Gisborne Oaks residents by sending letters, paintings and bouquets of flowers.

Ms Mannion said the primary school children have even developed a pen pal relationship with many residents.

“This support continues to bring such joy to the residents and all employees on site.”

Benetas’ visitor support program will continue to be monitored and adapted as required in response to the COVID-19 pandemic as it evolves and to ensure residents can receive visits from their loved ones as safely as possible.