Illness strikes aged care centre

A VOMITING and diarrhoea outbreak has forced a Bundaberg aged care centre to close its doors to visitors for eight days and counting.

On advice from Queensland Health's public health unit, Blue Care Riverlea aged care facility restricted visitors to the centre last Friday to prevent further spread of infection.

It is still unknown when the centre will be reopened to outsiders, but with six residents and two staff symptomatic, it could be some time yet.

The residents have been treated in their rooms, while staff were sent home until signs of illness had stopped for 48 hours.

“It's the hardest thing in the whole world, fearing for our mother and knowing we can't care for her,” said one concerned relative, who wished to remain anonymous.

“We are really worried. My mum has been at Riverlea for four years and this has never happened, not even during swine flu.”

The woman said she was unhappy with what she described as “secrecy” regarding the residents' wellbeing, but Blue Care insisted there had been good communication.

“On Thursday afternoon, Blue Care senior staff visited all residents and called all persons listed as the immediate next-of-kin to update them on the situation,” Blue Care Fraser Coast residential care manager Matt Sierp said.

“Any illness is concerning and we are keeping our residents, their families and our staff updated on activities. We are taking every possible action to prevent further infection.”

Visiting access was not strictly off limits, however. The woman who spoke to the NewsMail said she was able to visit on Tuesday, against the advice of staff.

“I was given gloves and a mask to wear to stop contamination,” she said.

“They didn't want me to come in but I demanded that I see my mother and check on her.”

A Queensland Health spokesperson said a temporary closure was a normal course of action.

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