14 September 2020
Message from our CEO
TLC IS COVID-19 FREE, HOW DID WE DO IT?
On 11 September 2020, the Australian Government Department of Health released a report listing all of the residential aged care homes that have experienced COVID-19 outbreaks across Australia. TLC Healthcare’s unique integrated care strategy, infectious disease control measures, and early response has resulted in us not being included in the report.
TLC’s COVID-19 response is supported by our strategy of integrating primary care medical centres into our residential aged care homes. The presence of doctors and chronic disease management nurses on-site at our 11 locations across Melbourne and Geelong, has resulted in the strict control of infectious disease outbreaks at our homes.
At TLC we have spent the last 5 years heightening our level of care, which includes infectious disease outbreak control measures. We have integrated primary care medical centres into our aged care homes, so there are resident doctors at all of our sites. We have developed our TLC On-Call staffing model that has contributed to the elimination of agency staff at our homes. TLC has also been purchasing medical equipment, and installing infection control technology, since early March 2020 in direct response to COVID-19.
Our general practitioners and chronic disease management nurses have spearheaded TLC’s outbreak management plans that were devised by our Infection Control Taskforce. Over the last 5 years, these plans have proven to be effective in containing influenza and gastroenteritis cases in our homes, so we were confident in our preparedness for COVID-19.
Working alongside our aged care nurses and personal carers, our rapid response primary care team has been able to enact a testing regime as soon as a resident displayed COVID-19 symptoms. This rapid response has been the key to TLC identifying any potential risk to our staff and residents.
The use of staffing agencies has been proven to be a transmission risk across the aged care sector. TLC On-Call is our team of aged care staff who are trained in our systems and procedures, and able to quickly respond to any available shifts in our homes. This model means that TLC has not widely utilised the services of an external staffing agency for many years. This initiative has also contributed to TLC’s annualised staff turnover of just 4%, in an industry where 35% is considered the norm.
TLC also employs our own physiotherapists, podiatrists and dieticians, reducing the number of external contractors moving throughout our homes. As a result of the presence of resident doctors at all of our sites, TLC has ceased the use of locum doctors; minimizing risk and maximizing clinical outcomes.
In early March 2020, TLC commenced purchasing large quantities of medical and personal protective equipment, so our rapid response teams and staff were protected and trained in advance of a potential outbreak. We have also installed state-of-the-art thermal temperature screening cameras at our entry points, and photo ID card technology to register our visitors and their length of stay in our homes.
Realistically, despite all our efforts, COVID-19 may enter a TLC site in the future. However, I know that TLC has the best-practice strategy, people and equipment in place to ensure that a resident testing positive does not result in a widespread outbreak.
To view the Australian Government Department of Health COVID-19 outbreaks in Australian residential aged care facilities report click here.
Chief Executive Officer