COVID-19 village protocols for the ‘Orange’ traffic light status (Waikato and Wellington), effective 3 December 2021
As you know, New Zealand has now transitioned to the new COVID-19 Protection Framework (the traffic light system), with the ‘Orange’ setting in place for our region. At Orange, there is community transmission of COVID-19, with increasing risks to vulnerable communities and pressure on the health system. We have now reviewed our village restrictions and other health and safety protocols for the Orange setting and these are outlined below.
In defining our protocols, we have looked to align our processes and procedures as much as possible with the Government Framework, but have applied a few added precautions to provide extra protection for our residents.
We recognise that there is a balance to be achieved between keeping our residents protected from COVID-19 and promoting their quality of life (including supporting people’s mental, physical and spiritual needs). We have therefore sought the advice of an ethicist on various aspects of our protocols, to ensure they are not disproportionately restrictive or risk undermining any potential benefit in terms of residents’ overall health. Selwyn seeks to adopt the principle of ‘least infringement’, which requires that we restrict individual liberty only to the degree necessary to achieve the goal of keeping our residents safe from COVID-19.
In general, we wish to achieve the best possible outcome for everyone and to act responsibly in the face of this global pandemic.
Our village protocols in the ‘Orange’ setting will be as follows:
- All independent living residents are to maintain a two metre distance from people when outside their own unit, where practicable.
- Unvaccinated residents are requested to consider not mingling with other residents at all indoors.
- Gatherings are to comply with the traffic light framework, ie, unlimited people with vaccine passes and one metre distancing, and up to 50 without vaccine passes with one metre distancing.
- All residents – regardless of their vaccine status – are requested to stay at home in their units and avoid all interactions with others, if they are displaying any symptoms of colds, flu or COVID-19, and are required to follow public health advice. The village team will carry out welfare checks on those residents weekly and more often with any individuals who are identified as being vulnerable and as may be required.
- Face coverings are mandatory for residents when in the common areas of the village and are to be worn on all van trips/buggy rides.
- Independent residents can receive deliveries and takeaways, for example; deliveries are to be made to a single point at main reception, and Selwyn staff members will deliver the items to the resident’s unit.
- Residents are recommended to only allow vaccinated visitors onto the site. All visitors to the common areas or apartments must scan in using the QR code and sign into the Visitor Management System at main reception (this includes questions about vaccination status and symptoms). Those visiting the villas must scan the QR code. Visitors must be accompanied by the resident elsewhere on the village site.
- Vaccinated visitors are required to wear a face covering in communal areas – allowance will be made for medical exemptions.
- Unvaccinated visitors (aged 12+, and aged 5+ once children aged 5-12 are able to be vaccinated) are not permitted to enter indoor common areas and must remain at a two metre distance from everyone other than the resident they are visiting.
- Unvaccinated visitors must wear a face covering at all times, with the exception of those with a medical exemption and children aged under 5 years.
Details of the specific COVID-safety requirements relating to the various village amenities and activities will be provided by each Village Manager.
All village staff on duty are vaccinated in accordance with the Government mandate; they will wear face coverings and will continue to be temperature-checked and to complete the staff health declaration form before starting their shift. Staff and residents are to maintain physical distancing of one metre when practicable. Chaplaincy visits may be conducted face-to-face with vaccinated residents, with masks to be worn by both the resident and chaplain and distancing of one metre. If the resident is unvaccinated, visits should ideally occur digitally by Zoom/FaceTime or by phone. Alternatively, they can take place outside, with distancing of two metres and masks worn by the resident and the chaplain.
No external health contractors are to be permitted on site except for those undertaking urgent/essential work or whose daily place of work is at the village. Any contractors coming onto the village site, whether engaged by Selwyn or the resident, are required to be fully vaccinated in accordance with the Government mandate for the health and disability sector and to comply with our stringent safety protocols.
All new and existing volunteers will also need to be vaccinated. They will be permitted access to the villages and independent living units provided they use the Visitor Management System, follow the hand hygiene guideline, wear a mask at all times and maintain physical distancing of one metre when practicable.
The ORA sales visits will be conducted by appointment only, with potential buyers required to sign into the Visitor Management System, wear a mask at all times while on site and follow the hand hygiene guidelines. All new residents coming into the village are to be fully vaccinated and remain fully vaccinated as a pre-condition of their ORA. When moving in, they must provide a Health and Safety plan which has been approved by Selwyn in advance.
In our care home, each resident can now nominate three designated visitors, who may visit at the same time by appointment. Visits by those who are vaccinated can take place in the resident’s bedroom or outside, but not in a communal area. There will be a designated area outside for visits by unvaccinated visitors, unless the resident is critically ill or dying. Unvaccinated visitors must provide a negative COVID-19 result from a test undertaken 48-72 hours prior to the visit. Those who are unvaccinated will be permitted to visit up until 1 January 2022 with extra precautions in place (in line with the Ministry of Health’s policy for the health and disability sector).
The above are just some of the many precautionary controls that we will be implementing throughout the village to ensure that we minimise all possible COVID risks. In doing so, Selwyn will comply with our legal obligations to residents, including those obligations contained in the Health and Disability Code of Rights.
As a Christian faith-based organisation, we are guided by Christian values around love for neighbour and treating others as we would want to be treated ourselves, as well as respect for those in Government and their decisions. Selwyn accepts existing residents’ choice to not be vaccinated, whether for medical reasons or personal choice, and we respect the rights of individuals. However, when individuals make choices which impact the rights of others to remain safe, we believe that the rights of the many should take priority over the rights of the individual.
Consistent with the Government COVID-19 Protection Framework, there will be more restrictions on unvaccinated residents than for those who are vaccinated, therefore we encourage all our residents to get vaccinated so they can enjoy the full benefits of being in a Selwyn village.
If you have not already done so, now is the time to apply for your vaccine pass, which is an official record of your COVID-19 vaccination status for use within New Zealand. From 3 December 2021, you will need to show this to gain access to many businesses, retail and public facilities and enjoy all events, hospitality and gatherings, as well as access to our range of village amenities (although it will not be required for entry to supermarkets, pharmacies, health services, food banks and petrol stations). There will be an exemption process for the small number of people who are unable to get a vaccination for medical reasons. If you are fully vaccinated, you can get a pass online, over the phone or in person at a pharmacy. For more on the vaccine pass, see: covid19.govt.nz/covid-19-vaccines/covid-19-vaccination-certificates/my-vaccine-pass/. Or you can call 0800 222 478 between 8.00am and 8.00pm, seven days a week, or ring your nearest participating pharmacy (see www.healthpoint.co.nz/covid-19-vaccination/?primaryBranch=pharmacy for details).
We would like to thank you in advance for your patience and understanding of the need to be particularly careful as society opens up further. Please be assured that we will continue to review the above protocols based on resident feedback (we will be formally seeking resident feedback in the coming weeks) and following further guidance from our industry body, the Retirement Villages Association. The Government will review the traffic light settings and provide an update again on 13 December, at which time we will also advise you if there are any changes to our procedures.
Thank you again for your assistance and cooperation in helping us maintain a COVID-safe environment for our whole village community.