The Ministry of Health has released its Action Plan to address the recommendations made in the Independent Review of COVID-19 Clusters in Aged Residential Care (ARC) Facilities Report.
From the New Zealand and international experience, it is known that the consequences can be deadly if COVID-19 gains a foothold in aged residential care facilities - 16 of New Zealand's 22 COVID-related deaths have occurred in these settings.
In April Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield commissioned an independent review into New Zealand’s ARC facilities to understand what was going well and what could be improved. The review, which was published in June 2020, included a number of recommendations to further strengthen New Zealand’s response to COVID-19 within the aged care sector.
Specific actions in the Plan released include:
- the development of a National Outbreak Management Policy
- the development of a Pandemic Management Workbook
The Ministry is partnering with key agencies to deliver the Action Plan and ensure delivery of better and safer care to New Zealanders. It is important to retain sight of the need for continued vigilance as COVID-19 continues to spread in other parts of the world.
Dr Bloomfield thanked the ARC sector again for their hard work and dedication as they worked to ensure the safety of New Zealand’s elderly during the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr Bloomfield said he had heard many stories of the workforce providing care to the elderly, in each case an acknowledgement of workers going above and beyond the call of duty.
Progress of the Action Plan will be published on the Ministry of Health’s website.