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Serving our vulnerable communities in response to COVID-19

Uniting against COVID-19/Coronavirus

Since COVID-19 was first identified and began to affect our way of life in New Zealand, it’s been The Selwyn Foundation’s priority to do everything possible to protect the residents of our care homes and retirement villages, and to support vulnerable older people living at home in the community – helping them, and our staff, to get through this time of national emergency.

Throughout the lockdown period, we’ve taken every precaution and health and safety measure to prevent the infection from entering our villages and to provide a safe, reassuring environment for our residents. We’ve reached out to those in the general population, to offer hope and support to seniors who may be living on their own and are without the help of family or friends. And we’ve looked to provide our staff – our essential workers – with everything they need to continue their amazing work with those in our care and in the community at large. 

In responding to the health risk and its implications for older people specifically, we’ve adapted our processes and procedures swiftly and effectively, closing our care homes and independent living sites to all but the most essential workers.  Our care facilities and retirement villages have consequently been clear of the virus to date. Our Emergency Management teams across the organisation have been working to the Foundation’s pandemic management plan, ensuring that our infection prevention control measures, staffing and resources are robust and wide-ranging in enabling us to tackle the threat posed and manage our response to this unprecedented event.

The situation is evolving on a daily basis and we’re continuing to monitor developments as they occur, responding to the most up-to-date advice from the Ministry of Health and reviewing our practices to reflect the latest thinking. The nation may have to contend with the effects of COVID-19 for some time to come, but the older people in our ‘bubble’ are not on their own – they’re part of our wider caring community, and the Foundation will be here to help and support them in whatever way we can.

Stay safe and well in the weeks ahead.

The Selwyn Foundation.

Scroll down, or click through to the following sections: Providing safe environments for our care residents, Supporting our independent living residents as they self-isolate, Reaching out to those in the community, Showing our staff that we care about them, Haumaru Housing – helping vulnerable tenants through the lockdown, Connecting with Selwyn

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The following is a snapshot of some of the initiatives we’ve put in place in recent weeks to support the wellbeing of our residents, clients, seniors living in the community and our members of staff. We place the individual at the centre of everything we do and are guided at all times by our unique approach to care and service - The Selwyn Way.

Providing safe environments for our care residents

Our measures to achieve a safe, healthy and risk-free environment for those in our care include:

  • Strengthening our workforce to establish an additional contingent of nurses, caregivers and other essential workers who are available and ready to step up as needed.
  • Increasing our supply of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) across all our sites, so our staff have all the appropriate safeguards and resources to hand, as and when they need.
  • Continuing to be particularly vigilant of residents’ health (and that of our staff), taking temperatures and other observations regularly each day and closely monitoring for any changes.
  • Instituting additional staff training on best practice infection control procedures, and expanding our education and learning initiatives in this area.
  • Having a robust admission process for all new residents moving into our care homes, to prevent the virus from entering our environments.
  • Helping to keep residents and their family members in touch with one another through virtual contact, by facilitating conversations through Zoom, FaceTime, phone and apps.
  • Keeping residents engaged and connected through stimulating and enriching activities, and continuing to provide opportunities for worship and prayer.
  • Continuing to celebrate residents’ birthdays and other special occasions, with banners, cakes, balloons and general joviality, to help compensate for the fact that family can't be there.
  • Making special provision for residents who may need to be cared for in isolation, to minimise the risk of spreading any infection.
  • Enabling family members to say a final goodbye to their loved one as they enter their last days of life, (during the lockdown, we’re facilitating access to a maximum of two immediate family members only, wearing full PPE gear, so they can visit their relative during this time).
  • Having a comprehensive emergency response plan in place for our central laundry, to ensure continuation of the daily service and maintenance of infection control standards.
  • Working closely with the DHBs on our COVID-19 preparedness, and sharing knowledge and best practice with other providers in the aged care sector.
Supporting our independent living residents as they self-isolate

Our independent living residents living in our retirement villages face a different set of challenges, and we’re helping make the task of self-isolation just that little bit easier by:

  • Arranging for any shopping or other errands that residents might need, either online or thanks to a variety of helpers.
  • Delivering any shopping or other supplies from family members or friends straight to residents’ units, so they don’t have to leave the comfort and safety of their home or venture unnecessarily beyond the village grounds.
  • Assisting residents to stay in touch with family through the wonders of modern technology, and offering any ‘how-to’ advice that might be needed.
  • Providing a hot meal service into residents’ apartments, freshly made each day by our on-site caterers.
  • Filling the gap left by the withdrawal of community support services for those who had help with household tasks.
  • Stocking essential grocery supplies in our on-site convenience stores or making them available for purchase at main reception.
  • Offering a wealth of ideas and resources on keeping oneself occupied through the Foundation’s ‘Be well, be kind, be safe’ webpages.
  • Providing a listening ear and taking time to chat – our Resident Services team, Selwyn chaplains and other ‘good Samaritans’ are always available to provide help and support over the phone.
  • Checking that everyone’s well – and especially those who may be more vulnerable – through our regular phone calls and follow-ups.
  • Providing peace-of-mind for residents by restricting access to our village communities to all but essential workers, so that no-one brings the virus in with them.
Reaching out to those in the community

We’ve translated The Selwyn Way into a welfare response to the COVID-19 emergency, through which we aim to support older people living in the general community by:

  • Supporting our clients and their families who had previously attended our dementia day centres (prior to their closure as a result of the pandemic), by conducting weekly ‘check-in’ phone calls; where a particular need is identified, a defined protocol is followed for any referrals for support that might be required.
  • Calling the guests of our Selwyn Centres weekly or more frequently as appropriate, with phone calls made by the Centre coordinators who also use an agreed protocol for referrals; this ongoing outreach is overseen by our Selwyn Centre Community Liaison.
  • Providing a source of information, navigational services and articles to support the welfare of those aged 70+ through a range of resources compiled by The Selwyn Institute and on our Facebook page.
  • Developing a suite of virtual and online initiatives that create and maintain community, providing services such as online events and a ‘virtual village’ of support, connection and meaningful activities; this concept continues to be developed.
  • Exploring opportunities to collaborate with accredited social enterprises equally focussed on helping the aged.
  • Providing hardship support through the Selwyn Hardship Support Fund, where a need has been identified through our weekly telephone calls that meets the qualifying criteria.
Showing our staff that we care about them

We’re incredibly thankful for our wonderful team of staff across all our sites, who are doing their utmost to care for, support or reach out to those who are vulnerable and in need of our extra help and attention. We’ve introduced a range of initiatives to resource teams and individuals and sustain wellbeing, including:

  • Ensuring we’ve enough staff to support our caregiving and nursing teams; we’ve employed 25% more staff from our Bureau on permanent contracts for a fixed term, and are keeping our wider staff body employed on full pay throughout the lockdown, so that our ‘back office’ support and administrative functions also continue to run smoothly.
  • Providing full financial support to colleagues who’ve had to stand down for various reasons related to the pandemic, such as the need for isolation, to look after a sick dependant, or because they fall within a ‘high risk’ group (for example, being over 70 years of age or having certain medical conditions or compromised immune systems).
  • Supporting wellbeing at work and at home through a dedicated 0800 helpline for staff, to answer questions about working through the emergency and also to provide other advice and guidance. This is soon to be expanded to offer advice to individual staff members experiencing personal difficulties as a result of COVID-19, whether related to childcare, transport or financial hardship.
  • Protecting our essential workers through measures such as temperature checks at the commencement of each shift, enabling staff to only work for one employer and at one location, and health screening existing and potential employees.
  • Developing and deploying new learning modules on how to keep safe in the workplace and on the effective use of Personal Protective Equipment, for example, though our online interactive learning system SelwynLearn.
  • Providing the necessary IT tools, hardware and connectivity to facilitate successful working from home for those in support functions, ensuring that our routine administrative functions can continue to operate as usual in support of our vital workers ‘on the frontline’.
  • Continuing to look at ways and means of supporting the health and welfare of staff as they deal with the stresses and strains of the current situation, whilst coming to work to provide essential services for our residents. Our new staff welfare plan is focussed on the whole person, in line with The Selwyn Way and our philosophy of putting the individual at the centre of everything we do.
Haumaru Housing – helping vulnerable tenants through the lockdown

Haumaru Housing (a joint venture between The Selwyn Foundation and Auckland Council) has 1,527 tenants in 1,367 homes around Auckland.  As a Community Housing Provider of property and tenancy management services to independent living tenants, it’s listed as an essential service, meaning it can respond to urgent matters that could affect tenants’ health and safety including maintenance calls, smoke alarms and issues with neighbours.

Since the Alert Level 4 was introduced, Haumaru’s staff have been keeping in touch with tenants by phone, making sure that all’s well and that there are no emergencies – maintenance or otherwise.  In recent weeks, the team has:

  • made 33 village visits for urgent health and safety or welfare needs
  • undertaken 191 drive-through visits to villages, carrying out visual health and safety checks and environmental scans of how things are, whilst complying with physical distancing rules
  • communicated with 98% of tenants or their designated contact, to verify their support networks
  • referred 18 tenants who may have complex medical concerns to Selwyn’s telemonitoring nurse
  • acted on the 123 calls received by Haumaru’s Service Desk for urgent maintenance, complaints about other tenants’ behaviour, or in response to other incidents
  • developed a database of local community groups, volunteers and organisations offering support to older people that tenants can be referred to.

Recent examples of how Haumaru staff have supported tenants include:

  • contacting the Ministry of Social Development to complete a food grant application on behalf of a tenant
  • collecting a prescription for an ill tenant
  • replacing a leaking hot water cylinder within 24 hours over a weekend
  • arranging for the urgent delivery of a fridge for a tenant
  • checking on missing tenants’ whereabouts to confirm they’re safe and well.

Haumaru is committed to doing all it can to safeguard its tenants and staff in these difficult times. Throughout the lockdown, its 0800 430 101 helpline continues to be available 24/7 and the info@haumaruhousing.co.nz email is continuously monitored, so tenants can contact the team at any time – day or night.

Connecting with Selwyn

You can keep up-to-date with everything we’re doing to support our vulnerable communities by visiting:

If you have a particular query, please call us on 0800 473 599 or email us at mail@selwynfoundation.org.nz.

Or see the ‘Contact us’ page of our website which provides a wide range of contact numbers for the Foundation’s Group Office, The Selwyn Institute, Selwyn Community, our retirement villages, the Selwyn Centres and our dementia day centres.

Let's unite against COVID-19

Protecting our vulnerable communities is a huge team effort. We thank all our staff for their commitment and dedication to Selwyn’s enduring mission to deliver quality services that are responsive to the needs of the ageing person and to support those who are vulnerable and in need.

Let’s unite against COVID-19 and keep all our communities safe and sound.​

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