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management of covid-19

AmeCare understands that the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic could significantly affect people within our service. To make sure we are providing effective care, AmeCare will work within the directives of the Department of Health and the NDIS Commission to implement strategies and maximize the health and safety of our participants and employees.

 

Symptoms of COVID-19 usually present 5-6 days after contact with a person who has tested positive for the virus. However, signs and symptoms can present as early as 1 day after exposure, or as late as 14 days after exposure.

Common symptoms include: 

  • Fever 

  • Dry cough

  • Shortness of breath

  • Fatigue

  • Lack of appetite

  • Loss of taste and/or smell 

Less common symptoms include:

  • Sore throat

  • Headache

  • Myalgia

  • Vomiting

  • Diarrhoea

  • Increased confusion 

  • Worsened chronic lung conditions 

 

 

Company Responsibilities 

  • Key Management Personnel 

    • Ensure employees have necessary skills and knowledge about infection control

    • Provide infection control training (e.g., specific COVID-19 training)

    • Keep all AmeCare employees and personnel informed of changes to restrictions and guidelines

    • Provide all accommodation and housing units with an adequate supply of anti-bacterial wipes, sprays, and disinfectant processes that staff can practicably manage

    • Keep a centralized registry of all COVID tests that have been conducted, as well as logs of all visitors and staff that may have been in contact with an affected person

    • Maintain connections with local pharmacy to receive adequate supplies of PPE, masks, and relevant equipment

    • Ensure all of our houses, services, facilities, and head office keep logbooks and attestations for adequate contact tracing

  • Support Workers 

    • Maintain good hand hygiene, as well a cough and respiratory etiquette

    • Follow and adhere to company directives, processes, and procedures

    • Reporting any suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 as it becomes known to them 

    • Following government and Department of Health guidelines about social/physical distancing and self-isolation, to protect AmeCare participants

    • Monitor participants’ health and document observations in their progress notes.

    • If employees have serious concerns, they need to contact the head office immediately.

    • Report to head office any instances of poor hand hygiene, absence of physical distancing, or poor cleaning practices that put participants, employees, or other members of the community at risk. 

Social distancing and self-isolation 

  • Self-screening and self-isolation for anyone who develops respiratory signs and symptoms of COVID-19 is critical.

  • If any employee, participant, or associate of AmeCare have concerns that they have been exposed to a confirmed case of COVID-19, or are experiencing symptoms, they must immediately:

    • Notify a member of AmeCare’s management team

    • Seek medical advice and assistance

    • Not work or have contact with any AmeCare participants until a medical certificate is obtained to deem clearance

  • All AmeCare employees should maintain social/physical distancing wherever possible. This means employees should activate principles of person-centered active support:

    • Minimise assistance if it is documented that the participant can complete the task independently

    • Prompt the participant from a distance to complete tasks and to give them an opportunity to complete it (where safe and reasonable to do so)

    • Demonstrate the task from a distance, to teach the task (where safe and reasonable to do so)

    • Where it is necessary to provide personal support, adhere to hand hygiene

    • Educate and encourage social/physical distancing to participants through verbal instructions and role modelling

    • Report to management for investigation, any breaches of physical distancing, self-isolation, or other concerns about implementing covid-safe processes.

    • At all times, maintain obligations under the NDIS Code of Conduct

    • Report any application of restrictive practices that are not authorised as part of a behaviour support plan (e.g., environmental restraints)

Managing exposure sites 

If you have been to any exposure sites during a specified time/day (as identified by the Department of Health)...

  • Follow the advice listed for Tier 1, Tier 2, or Tier 3 sites

  • Call the Coronavirus hotline 1300 651 160 for further advice

  • Get tested as soon as possible

Anyone who has visited a Tier 1 exposure site during the specified times/days identified, must immediately:

  • Isolate at home

  • Get tested as soon as possible

  • Quarantine at home for 7 days from the date of exposure (applicable if you are fully vaccinated and you are not in the same household as a someone who tested positive)

  • If you are not fully vaccinated, or you reside with someone who has tested positive, quarantine for 14 days from the date of exposure

  • You should also fill out the self-assessment form (https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/symptom-checker/tool?symptom=CORO), or call the Coronavirus hotline 1300 651 160 

 

AmeCare will continually monitor the Department of Health website for updates, and will provide regular emails to all AmeCare staff and participants with any new Chief Health Officer guidelines.

https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert

When COVID-19 is suspected:

  • Due to a exposure of a confirmed case and/or presentation of signs and symptoms

    • Contact a member of the AmeCare management team

    • Complete progress notes

    • Monitor the participant’s general health and wellbeing

    • Support all follow ups with the participant’s GP

    • Continue to comply with infection control practices, and increase the level of infection control measures as required

    • Continue to comply with and practice physical distancing requirements

  • Where the client presents as significantly unwell, or has difficulty breathing, employees must call 000 for an ambulance and disclose potential COVID-19 to the switchboard

  • Where instructed by a participant’s GP to receive a COVID test, employees can provide support to do so. Once and if testing has been initiated, employees must:

    • Notify a member of the AmeCare management team

    • Complete an incident report

    • Implement/continue to comply with social distancing and isolation practices

    • Implement/continue to comply with cleaning practices for confirmed cases

Where COVID-19 is confirmed: 

  • Someone with acute symptoms may remain in hospital. If they reside in AmeCare’s accommodation, a pandemic clean of the room needs to occur prior to the participant’s return.

    • If they do not resident in AmeCare’s accommodation, AmeCare will advise the participant, their delegate, caregiver, advocate, or next of kin of the importance of a deep clean to avoid further spreading the virus.

  • Where signs and symptoms are not immediately acute, the participant will likely be asked to monitor their health whilst quarantining for a minimum of 5 days and up to 7 days.

    • If the person resides independently in their own home, AmeCare will provide support via phone/video calls and emails to ensure they are adequately supported during quarantine. 

    • AmeCare will not conduct any unnecessary face-to-face support until written confirmation is received that the participant and any affected persons have medical clearance.

Cleaning practices – for suspected or confirmed cases

 

  • Complete a clean at least 3 times daily and, where possible, at the beginning and end of each shift

  • Use appropriate detergents to clean each surface first, then go over with disinfectants.

    • Alternatively, clean each item once using a combined detergent and disinfectant

  • At a minimum, the following must be cleaned daily:

    • Light switches

    • Doorknobs

    • Benches

    • Toilets

    • Basins/sinks

    • Aids and equipment

    • Remote controls

    • Bedroom surfaces

  • Use gloves to gather any used clothes and linen, and transport them for cleaning in a plastic/disposable bag

  • The affected person’s clothes and linen are to be washed separately to other members of the household, on the warmest possible setting (more than 65 degrees for at least 10 minutes)

  • Wash all cutlery and crockery in the dishwasher, where possible. Items used by the affected person do not need to be washed separately.

  • An external agency can be used to conduct a deep clean, e.g.:

Providing disability support service during COVID-19

AmeCare workers, are not go to work if they:

  • returned from overseas in the past 14 days

  • been in contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19

  • a fever

  • a symptom, even a minor symptom, of respiratory illness (cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, runny nose or nasal congestion).

Let AmeCare know if you need to quarantine at home.

Identifying symptoms

Monitor the health of people in your care and watch out for symptoms of COVID-19.

Keep in mind that some people with intellectual or developmental disability may:

  • be at greater risk of serious illness due to COVID-19 if they have some medical conditions and co-morbidities

  • have difficulty understanding and adhering to social distancing, handwashing and other risk reduction strategies, which increases their risk

  • not show or be able to communicate early COVID-19 symptoms

Getting tested

If you develop fever or respiratory symptoms, even if mild, do not go to work, and get tested straight away.

If someone you care for has symptoms, you or they should seek advice from their GP or the National Coronavirus Helpline about whether they should be tested.

Read about testing and explaining the testing process to a person with disability.

Stopping the spread

To help slow the spread of COVID-19, practise good hygiene and physical distancing and follow the limits on public gatherings.

For more on how you can protect yourself and those in your care, complete the 30-minute COVID-19 infection control training.

Personal protective equipment (PPE)

Wear appropriate PPE (gown, mask, protective eyewear and gloves) if you:

  • will be exposed to body fluids or very contaminated surfaces

  • are caring for someone confirmed or suspected of having COVID-19.

Remove your PPE before leaving the room or the person’s home. Wash or sanitise your hands straight after removing PPE.

Disability support workers may be required to wear a mask at all times when providing care in areas with community transmission of COVID-19. Check current requirements in your state / territory.

Please read the guide to PPE for disability care providers.

Getting PPE

NDIS providers and self-managing participants who can no longer access PPE supplies the private market can contact the National Medical Stockpile by emailing NDISCOVIDPPE@health.gov.au.

Read more about accessing PPE for NDIS providers.

If you are a non-NDIS provider, and can no longer access PPE through usual means, contact your state or territory health authority

Supporting care recipients

AmeCare and workers must minimise risks of infection.

Read our COVID-19 advice for:

People with disability, their families and carers can read our it’s ok to have home care fact sheet.

Outbreak prevention and management

AmeCare must take steps to prevent COVID-19 outbreaks and plan for outbreak management.

The Communicable Diseases Network Australia (CDNA) has also developed guidance on the prevention and management of COVID-19 outbreaks in disability residential services.

AmeCare must also review guidance on outbreak prevention and management issued by state and territory governments.

AmeCare can refer to the following resource for managing outbreaks of COVID-19:

https://www.health.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/2020/09/management-and-operational-plan-for-people-with-disability.pdf

National Quality and Safeguards Commission information and Guidelines on COVID-19

Disability Gateway

Questions about COVID-19, including about COVID-19 vaccination, you can contact the Disability Gateway on 1800 643 787. (If you are deaf, hard of hearing or have a speech impairment, you can also call the National Relay Service on 133 677.)

The Disability Gateway provides information and referrals for people with disability who need help because of COVID-19, and can also assist families, carers, and support workers.

The Disability Gateway is available Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm (AEST). It is not available on national public holidays.

COVID-19 vaccine information

The Australian Government Department of Health (Department of Health) have launched a dedicated information page for people with disability about COVID-19 vaccines.

This page contains important information about COVID-19 vaccines and the vaccination rollout. The Department of Health will update the information as arrangements for the rollout are made.

There is a webpage containing information and resources about the vaccine for people with disability.

Frequently asked questions

Visit the NQSC frequently asked questions about COVID-19 and how it affects the NDIS services and supports.

The Australian Human Rights Commission has issued an Easy Read resource [PDF] that explains human rights are and why they are important during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Australian Government has produced these Easy Read resources about COVID-19:

·       Wearing a mask

·       Your emergency plan for COVID-19

·       What is coronavirus?

·       5 things to do right now

·       What you need to know

·       FAQs

·       Social distancing

·       Staying at home

·       Management and Operational Plan for People with Disability

·       Jobkeeper Payment impacts on Disability Support Pension recipients

·       JobKeeper Payment impacts on Carer Payment recipient

The Council for Intellectual Disability (CID) has produced these Easy Read resources:

·       Staying safe from coronavirus

·       Look after your mental health during coronavirus

·       Staying at home during coronavirus

·       What is happening in my home

·       Looking after your health in lockdown

·       If you think you have Coronavirus

Auslan resources

The Australian Government has produced Auslan resources about COVID-19:

·       Information for people with disability and carers

·       Looking after yourself

·       Support for your situation

·       Helping others

·       Who else can you talk to?

·       Links to other accessible resources

Participant fact sheets

The following fact sheets have been created for NDIS participants.

1. Our first COVID-19 NDIS participant information fact sheet explains:

·       what to expect from your NDIS providers

·       your rights, how to make a complaint about a provider

·       what resources are available from the NDIA

·       where to find more information and resources about COVID-19.

This fact sheet is also available in Easy Read and Auslan formats, and in 11 other languages.

Updates and advice: Australian Government

·       Australian Government COVID-19 updates: Visit the Australian Government website for the latest news, updates and advice on COVID-19.

·       COVID-19 advice for people with disability: The Australian Government Department of Health website has information about protecting yourself from COVID-19, managing your mental health, and getting access to important services like telehealth and prescription medications.

·       Guidelines on the rights of people with disability in health and disability care during COVID-19: These guidelines from the Australian Human Rights Commission explain the human rights people with disability have, and how health care and disability workers can uphold these when providing support during the pandemic.

·       COVIDSafe app: This app can help health officials quickly contact people exposed to COVID-19. You can download it from on the Apple App Store or Google Play.

·       COVID-19 planning resource for people with disability: This planning guide helps you to get the facts about COVID-19 and make a plan for how you will manage the impact of this situation.

·       COVID-19 testing for people with disability: The Department of Health has released a fact sheet for support workers and carers of people with disability. The fact sheet covers who should be tested, where testing can be done, and how to explain the testing process to a person with disability.

·       Information for families of a person with intellectual disability: This Department of Health fact sheet contains information to support families of a person with intellectual of developmental disability during the COVID-19 pandemic.

·       Coronavirus Australia app: Download the official government ‘Coronavirus Australia’ app in the Apple App Store or Google Play. Or join the Australian Government’s WhatsApp channel on iOS or Android.

·       Department of Health updates: The Department of Health website has daily updates on COVID-19.

·       Department of Health Coronavirus FAQs: The Department of Health has issued an information sheet that answers common questions about COVID-19.

·       Other languages: The Department of Home Affairs has translated COVID-19 information into 36 languages.

Resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and remote communities

·       The Australian Government Department of Health has developed a collection of resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and remote communities about COVID-19. This includes audio, video, posters, newsletters, infographics and a series of short videos, posters and guidance from the Communicable Diseases Network Australia.

·       The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) has a dedicated webpage with health alerts and links to COVID-19 resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

·       The First People’s Disability Network’s website contains information, resources and videos to help protect yourself, Elders, family and the community from COVID-19 and keep safe.

Link to NDIA information

The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) has a dedicated webpage for NDIS participants about COVID-19. They have also developed a series of animationsabout how to get the funding and services you need during COVID-19.

On 3 September 2020, the NDIS Commission and the NDIA jointly issued an open letter to all Victorian participants, their families and carers. It explains what to expect from providers, how to protect yourself and others, and where to complain if you are unhappy with the quality or safety of your supports or services. An Easy Read version of the letter is available.

Victorian Accommodation requirements for disability providers 

  • Victorian disability services covered by the Care Facilities Directions including residential disability services and eligible Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) enrolled dwellings.

COVID-19 Mandatory Vaccination (Workers) Directions

Authorised workers (www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au/information-workers-required-be-vaccinated) must be able to provide evidence to their employer that they have:

  • received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and have a booking to receive the second dose by 26 November 2021, or 

  • have a medical exemption evidenced by an authorised medical practitioner.

Workers may receive a medical exemption if they are unable to be vaccinated because they:

  • have a medical contraindication to COVID-19 vaccines, or

  • have an acute medical illness, including COVID-19 infection for up to six months (or earlier if the medical practitioner specifies an earlier date).

This means that from 22 October 2021 onwards, authorised workers need to have received at least their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine (unless they have a medical exemption) to attend work.

From 26 November 2021, authorised workers will also be required to provide evidence to their employer that they have received the second dose (unless they have a medical exemption) to attend work.

Evidence can include a worker’s MyGOV COVID-19 digital certificate or an immunisation history statement available from Medicare. In the period before immunisation history is updated online, evidence of vaccination can include a recent booking confirmation email, or the card received at the time of vaccination. All information should be recorded and securely kept for the duration necessary to confirm compliance with the COVID-19 Mandatory Vaccination Directions.

Workers that have not received a COVID-19 vaccine by these dates must only work from home.

Workers includes employees, contractors, volunteers and students on placement but excludes carers. People who provide care in their own home (for example foster and kinship carers) are not required to be vaccinated but are strongly encouraged to be vaccinated.

A work premises is anywhere workers are required to be for their work outside the home.

The workers covered by this mandate include workers connected to:

  • an alcohol and drug residential service

  • a disability residential service

  • disability services

  • services provided to an NDIS participant in any setting

  • a homelessness residential service

  • a secure care service

  • a supported residential service

  • essential relief activities including the activities provided at Neighbourhood Houses and other similar community premises

  • an eligible specialist disability accommodation enrolled dwelling

  • a short-term accommodation and assistance dwelling (including residential care for children and young people)

  • a mental health residential service including the service provided at a Community Care Unit or a Prevention and Recovery Centre

  • family violence and sexual assault support services

  • homelessness support services

  • public housing support services

  • mental health services

  • social services provided or contracted by the government to support members of the community who have a particular need because of family violence, homelessness, illness or a chronic health condition, infirmity, disability, contact with the justice system or other essential support service

  • interpreter, cultural, or support services.

Visitor restrictions for care facilities 

Up to five visitors per day (including dependents)

  • do not have to be from the same household. 

  • no time limits.  

  • no specified purpose required.  

It is strongly recommended that all residents and visitors are fully vaccinated.

 

Record keeping (for all of Victoria)

 

Residents of care facilities do not need to check in.

Record keeping (coronavirus.vic.gov.au/record-keeping-contact-tracing-information-business) continues to be an important tool for helping Victoria stay safe and stay open. The need for fast and accurate contact information for anyone who has visited a potential COVID-19 public exposure site is vital.

AmeCare must keep electronic records of anyone entering their premises, including staff, contractors, volunteers and visitors, no matter how long they spend at the facility. 

AmeCare can continue to use existing systems (for example, bespoke booking or health screening systems) but must use the Victorian Government QR Code Service (coronavirus.vic.gov.au/about-victorian-government-qr-code-service) to comply with public health directions to collect records for contact tracing purposes.

AmeCare is expected to make reasonable efforts to comply, including assisting people who do not have or cannot use a smartphone to scan the QR Code. This could include making a terminal (for example an iPad) available for people to check-in, or be assisted to check-in using the Kiosk check-in service(coronavirus.vic.gov.au/register-to-use-vic-gov-qr-code-service).

People must use the Service Victoria app (service.vic.gov.au/check-in) to check-in.

In exceptional circumstances, an alternative record keeping approach (such as a pen and paper) can be used.

Essential support groups and health services are not required to keep records if confidentiality is required. 

Workers do not need to check-in if supporting people at their residential premises (such as in a private home and not a care facility). Employers should keep records (such as rosters) on where their employees have worked.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) requirements 

•      Residents are not required to wear a face mask in their home. 

•      All visitors are required to wear face masks. 

•      Staff, contractors and volunteers must wear surgical face masks.

•      It is acceptable to temporarily remove masks if essential to support communication with a non-COVID positive resident.

•      For residential disability services, staff, contractors and volunteers must: 

o   wear eye protection (face shields are preferred) when supporting COVID-19 negative residents.  

o   use P2/N95 respirators, eye protection (face shields are preferred), disposable gloves, disposable fluid-repellent gowns and hand hygiene for all suspected (low- and high-risk) and confirmed cases.

Worker mobility requirements for all of Victoria

For residential disability services, service providers must not require or allow staff to work at more than one worksite, unless it is impracticable to limit that work to only one worksite or it breaches the NQSC continuity of care guidlinies.

·      Where a service provider requires a worker to work at more than one worksite, the service provider must demonstrate that systems are in place to minimise movement across worksites, for example, dedicated rosters.

·      Service providers should minimise the use of staff from labour hire workforces by using its own workforce unless it is impracticable to do so.

•      Where a worker is working at more than one worksite for two or more different employers:

o   the worker must provide a written declaration to each employer advising that they are working at more than one worksite and providing details of the other worksite.

o   each employer must maintain a record of all workers that are working across more than one worksite.

 

Staff and visitor screening and safety requirements 

 

Staff, contractors, volunteers and visitors must be screened by staff of care facilities on entry and must not enter if they: 

·       have any COVID-19 symptoms, unless caused by an underlying health condition or medication (coronavirus.vic.gov.au/symptoms-and-risks

·       are a close contact of someone who has COVID-19 (unless they have been identified as a close contact in the course of their employment while wearing the appropriate level of personal protective equipment in the circumstances)

·       fully vaccinated non-household close contacts can only visit 7 days after contact with someone who has COVID-19

·       non-fully vaccinated or household close contacts can only visit 14 days after contact with someone who has COVID-19.

·       are currently required to isolate or quarantine – this includes if they have attended an exposure site in Victoria (coronavirus.vic.gov.au/exposure-sites) or interstate (coronavirus.vic.gov.au/victorian-travel-permit-system) or are waiting on a COVID-19 test result. 

·       are a visitor who has had a COVID-19 test and has not received the results. 

 

Visitor declarations 

 

Visitors must declare in writing before entering that they:  

·       have no COVID-19 symptoms (coronavirus.vic.gov.au/symptoms-and-risks

·       are not a close contact of someone who has COVID-19 (unless they have been identified as a close contact in the course of their employment while wearing the appropriate level of personal protective equipment in the circumstances)

·       are not currently required to isolate or quarantine – this includes if they have attended an exposure site in Victoria (coronavirus.vic.gov.au/exposure-sites) or interstate (coronavirus.vic.gov.au/victorian-travel-permit-system) or are waiting on a COVID-19 test result. 

 

Mental health support 

Some people with disabilities and/or mental health conditions may feel more alone during the pandemic. They may:

  • have less contact with friends and relatives

  • feel isolated from their culture and heritage

  • have less contact with the outside world because some shops and activities have temporarily closed.

To support people with disability, let them know about Head to Health, which provides information about mental health and digital support.

Looking after your own mental health is also important. Read our mental health advice for the health workforce.

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