COVID-19 information for carers

COVID-19 information for carers

Carers NSW takes the health and wellbeing of our staff, the carers we work with across NSW, the people they care for, and our stakeholders, very seriously. We have been closely following government advice regarding Coronavirus (COVID-19) and as of last week made the decision to take the additional precaution of cancelling face to face engagements with carers and other stakeholders in the coming weeks to reduce the risk to vulnerable people in our community. From 18 March 2020, all Sydney based staff are working from home.

Carers NSW will continue to offer support to carers over the phone, via videoconference and over email during this challenging period, where appropriate. This includes a range of information below to assist carers in keeping themselves and their loved ones safe. 

Carers should refer to the NSW Health website or call the National Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080 (or the National Relay Service on 1300 555 727) for up to date advice about the present level of risk and recommended precautions.

To raise any issues particularly impacting carers and the people they care for in NSW, you can contact Carers NSW on 02 9280 4744 or at contact@carersnsw.org.au

What is Coronavirus (COVID-19)?

The Department of Health notes that coronaviruses are a large family of viruses known to cause respiratory infections. These can range from the common cold to more serious diseases such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). While some people who have coronavirus may not get sick at all or have only mild symptoms, older people and people with underlying medical conditions (such as diabetes, lung disease, kidney disease or supressed immunity) are at more risk of severe illness. Many carers are supporting a friend or family member who falls into one or both of these categories, so it is particularly important that carers stay safe.

COVID-19 is most likely spread from person-to-person through:

  • Direct close contact with a person while they are infectious
  • Close contact with a person with a confirmed infection who coughs or sneezes
  • Touching contaminated objects or surfaces (e.g. door handles or tables), and then touching your face

To find out more about coronavirus, its symptoms and when to seek medical treatment, visit the NSW Health website or Australian Department of Health website.

How is it prevented?

Practising good hand and sneeze/cough hygiene and keeping your distance from others when you are sick is the best defence against most viruses. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has provided guidance on basic protective measures.

NSW Health recommends that you should:

  • Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Cover your nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing with a tissue or flexed elbow. Dispose of tissues, and wash your hands.
  • Avoid close contact with anyone who has a fever, cough or flu-like symptoms
  • Practice social distancing, which is avoiding crowds, large gatherings, handshakes, hugging and kissing and stay more than 1.5 metres away from people whenever possible.

The Council for Intellectual Disability (CID) has also published an Easy Read guide about avoiding viruses

What to do if I am feeling unwell?

  • Stay at home if you are feeling unwell
  • Avoid contact with others (stay more than 1.5 metres from people)

If you develop a fever, cough, tiredness or shortness of breath within 14 days of overseas travel, seek medical attention.

  •       Call your GP
  •       Call Healthdirect 1800 022 222
  •       Visit the Emergency Department
  •       If you require translation services please call 131 450.

Who should get tested?

People with fever, cough or flu-like symptoms who are returned travellers, or a contact of a confirmed case, should be tested for COVID-19.

Where can I get tested?

Samples for testing can be taken directly by GPs or at a range of private pathology sites across the state that are suitable for collection of COVID-19.

COVID-19 flu clinics have been established at a number of public hospitals across NSW, but you should call your GP first before visiting one of these.

If you require further information you can call the COVID-19 Federal Government Hotline: 1800 020 080

Social distancing

As the Australian Government continues to implement measures to stop or slow the spread of coronavirus, you may hear the term 'social distancing' more often. Social distancing involves limiting contact between individuals in the community to reduce the possibility of people passing on an infection to others that they may come into contact with.

Social distancing includes:

  • staying at home when you are unwell
  • avoiding large public gatherings if they’re not essential
  • keeping a distance of 1.5 metres between you and other people whenever possible
  • minimising physical contact especially with people at higher risk of developing serious symptoms, such as older people and people with existing health conditions.

You can find out more about social distancing here.

Self isolation

The Australian Government has announced that all people who arrive in Australia from midnight 15 March 2020, or think may they have been in close contact with a confirmed case of coronavirus, are required to self-isolate for 14 days.

You can find further guidance on isolation here. If you have recently travelled, or plan to travel soon, there is more information available here about travel restrictions and biosecurity measures at the airport and in-flight.

Emotional support

If you are feeling stressed or overwhelmed about what is happening, help is available. You can phone the following numbers for 24 hour assistance:

  •    Lifeline 13 11 14
  •    Beyond Blue 1300 224 636
  •    NSW Mental Health Line 1800 011 511
  •    Mensline 1300 789 978
  •    Kids helpline 1800 551 800

Disability and aged care services

People who are elderly and some people living with disability are more likely to be vulnerable to the effects associated with COVID-19.

The Disability Reform Council is focused on ensuring appropriate planning and preparedness across the sector is a priority. The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) has encouraged participants and carers to talk to service providers and health professionals to develop a plan to ensure their personal health and safety over the coming months. If you have concerns about your services or require advice contact the NDIS Contact Centre on 1800 800 110.

NDIS participants, their carers and providers are encouraged to keep up to date with the latest information through the NDIA website, and via Facebook and Twitter. Disability Services Consulting has compiled COVID-19 resources for people living with disability, their families and carers.

NSW health and the Australian Department of Health have released information for families of residential care facility residents. Limiting visits to residential aged care facilities has been recommended where possible to minimise the risk to vulnerable residents. 

Planning ahead 

It is important to plan ahead in case you become ill and are no longer able to care, or it becomes more difficult for you or the person you care for to leave the house, access essential services or purchase essential items in the coming weeks. The Carer Gateway website has an Emergency Care Plan that may help you think through and capture key details.

Consider what alternative supports you could put in place for the person you care for if you were no longer available to care, or if care workers were unable to attend. Remember to note down the health care and medication needs of the person you care for, including what would happen if a change in circumstances prevented access to the pharmacy or doctor. And don't forget to account for your own health and wellbeing in planning ahead.

Medication

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), the national administrative body for pharmaceuticals in Australia, has advised that while it may be appropriate to have a two week supply of medications in case of quarantining, stockpiling of medicines is not recommended as it may impact on the ability of others to access medication they need. They have recommended that anyone who is concerned about the impact of COVID-19 on the supply of their medicines should discuss the ongoing management of their condition with their health professional.

Purchasing or accessing essentials

If you are having difficulty accessing essential items, you may need to ask a family member, friend, neighbour or colleague for support. Some supermarket chains are arranging special support for older people and people with disability that may assist.

Woolworths Supermarkets, Coles and some IGA stores will be opening from 7am to 8am to allow older people and people with disability to access newly stocked shelves so they are less likely to miss out on essential items.

Woolworths Supermarkets have also begun working with NSW Meals on Wheels volunteers to deliver toilet paper directly to older people living in the community, and Coles have recommended that those who are unable to get to a supermarket to buy essentials should contact their local Foodbank. Ask your local supermarket what they are doing to help.

Employment

WorkSafe Victoria has released a guide for employers, Preparing for a pandemic’, which SafeWork NSW also refers to. The Fair Work Ombudsman has provided information in regards to workplace entitlements and obligations if you are affected by COVID-19. 

More information

The Department of Health has released a fact sheet answering a number of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) or for more information please go to the NSW Health website.

The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) has published Easy Read information on Coronavirus, including a text only version, and frequently asked questions for NDIS participants, their family and carers.

If you require further information you can call the COVID-19 Federal Government Hotline: 1800 020 080.

If you require medical assistance call ahead to your GP or emergency department, or call Healthdirect on 1800 022 222.

 

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Carers NSW acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the land, Elders past and present and all Aboriginal people.