Staff at Bundaleer Nursing Home in Wauchope say they are being "stretched beyond our limits" as they try to manage the facility's current COVID-19 outbreak.
Several carers and workers have contacted the Port News in response to family members' criticism of the way the outbreak has been handled.
Two residents have died and 45 have been infected with COVID-19. Five staff have also tested positive.
One Wauchope resident, who provided her name but asked not to be identified in this story, said she had not been able to visit her father for three weeks and was concerned for his welfare. She says communication has been limited.
"Residents are not being allowed out of their rooms and they're not being told anything," she said.
However, staff say that while they are "exhausted" they are trying their "very best to care and love your family members."
"We've been in crisis for weeks, working our hearts out with limited staff," one worker said.
"The care and support staff, housekeeping and catering; we all are there because we want to be and we care our bloody guts out. We don't run or manage the place."
The home is managed by Apollo Care Operations Limited (Apollo Care), which took over Bundaleer Care Services Limited (BCSL) six weeks ago (July 1, 2022).
A spokesperson for Apollo Care said staff have been managing the COVID outbreak in the aged care community since July 18.
"[It] has resulted in 45 residents and five staff testing positive to COVID. Sadly, two of the residents who tested positive to COVID have died," they said.
Apollo Care chief operating office Barry Ashcroft said he understood the past three weeks had been a challenging time for residents and staff.
"COVID continues to impact all parts of our community, but none more-so than the aged care sector," he said.
"During a COVID-outbreak, restricting visitor access to the community is a vital part of helping to prevent further spread of the virus and keep residents as protected as possible."
There are full visitor restrictions in place (excluding essential visitors) at Bundaleer as per the NSW Health guidelines.
Every resident that does not have COVID-19 can have at least one visitor (who undergoes a rapid antigen test and wears a mask) to support their psychological wellbeing.
Apollo Care says the local public health unit had recommended that Bundaleer residents with COVID-19 stay in their rooms.
Mr Ashcroft said the organisation knows visitor restrictions can be difficult for residents and their families.
"We aim to do as much as possible to keep residents feeling connected to others through a modified lifestyle program and a remote visits program that uses Facetime and Zoom technology," he said.
"I would also like to commend the Bundaleer team for the care and compassion they have shown residents during these testing times."
A map on the NSW Health website shows the COVID-19 vaccination rates for aged care residents.
It displays data for residents' third and fourth dose vaccination rates by facility across Australia.
As of August 2, 90 to 100 per cent of Bundaleer residents had received three doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Thirty to 39 per cent of eligible residents had received four doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.
The following visitor limitations are in place:
Visitor restrictions will remain in place until about seven days after the last COVID case has been identified.
The decision to ease restrictions is made by the local public health unit.
Apollo Care anticipates the outbreak will end in a week. Normal visitation will then apply, which means residents are limited to two visitors per day.
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