Coronavirus (COVID-19) latest information for carers

Coronavirus (COVID-19) latest information for carers

Carers NSW is closely monitoring the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation, the ongoing government response and the wide ranging impacts it has on carers. Below is our latest COVID-19 information and resources for carers.

If you need individual information or support, please phone Carers NSW on 02 9280 4744 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm) or call Lifeline at any time on 13 11 14 for 24-hour emotional and crisis support.

General information

The Australian Government Department of Health website provides daily updates, Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), the latest news, current facts and figures, travel advice and contact details. Visit www.health.gov.au for more information.

NSW Health provides the latest information and advice on the coronavirus (COVID-19) on their website at www.health.nsw.gov.au

The NSW Department of Communities and Justice have information for seniors, people with disability and carers on their website.

Carers can visit these websites 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.

Latest information from 23 April 2020

There are ongoing calls requesting an immediate increase to the Disability Support Payment (DSP) and Carer Payments and for the Government to increase the Carer Payment by $550 per fortnight, in line with other payments.  

Mind Australia and Caring Fairly is undertaking proactive advocacy to ensure the Australian Government's response benefits and supports carers during the pandemic.  To inform their campaign they have developed a national survey to capture unpaid carers’ experiences of the crisis. Questions cover potential economic impacts such as lost work or income and increased costs, mental and physical wellbeing, changes in access to support and services and changes to the amount or type of care provided.  

The survey is open for a period of two weeks from Tuesday 21 April to Tuesday 5 May and is available to complete here https://survey.mindaustralia.org.au/index.php/354933?lang=en

Service NSW is increasing its resources to help NSW residents with issues relating to COVID-19. The hotline’s staff are helping people access all types of services and supports. They can be contacted on 13 77 88.

Relationships NSW’s Time2Talk telephone service (1300 022 966) is for anyone experiencing difficulties relating to families, households, or their personal situation during COVID-19.

Mature age workers can now access funded training more easily and quickly to help them find work under changes to the Career Transition Assistance (CTA) program. The CTA program assists mature job seekers aged 45 and over with training and support to improve their digital literacy, job opportunities and identifying transferrable skills.

The National Debt Helpline delivers resources for debt and financial issues associated with COVID-19 which are available at ndh.org.au/debt-problems/covid19/

BusinessConnect has a range of resources to assist small businesses in adapting to the challenges of COVID-19: www.business.nsw.gov.au/support-for-business/businessconnect

Federal and state energy regulators are keeping an eye on payment plans, hardship, disconnection and credit collection figures as energy businesses are called upon to put customers first during the current global health crisis. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has granted new interim authorisation for an expanded range of measures allowing participants in the gas and electricity markets to work together to help safeguard Australia’s energy supply during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Specific information for carers of older people

The National Cabinet advised it is not acceptable, fair or compassionate for any residential aged care facilities to ban visits from carers and families.  They reconfirmed the principles announced on 18 March 2020 which includes that visits should be limited to a short duration, a maximum of two visitors at one time per day, and conducted in line with social distancing practices. This is designed to limit the spread of COVID-19 in residential aged care facilities.

All Governments are committed to protecting and supporting elderly and vulnerable Australians and are working together, with aged care providers, to manage infection control. The National Cabinet advises infection prevention and control measures must be balanced against the needs and best interests of residents. Aged care providers are best placed to make these assessments on a case by case basis.

National Cabinet also reiterated that the following visitors and staff (including visiting workers) should not be permitted to enter the aged care facilities:

  • Those who have returned from overseas in the last 14 days
  • Those who have been in contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the last 14 days
  • Those with fever or any (even mild) symptoms of acute respiratory infection (e.g. cough, sore throat, runny nose, shortness of breath)
  • Those who have not been vaccinated against influenza (after 1 May).

Family members who may be concerned about the care being provided to loved ones in residential aged care facilities are encouraged to contact the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission on 1800 951 822 or visit https://www.agedcarequality.gov.au/

The Department of Health provided further advice to residential aged care providers regarding the direction to maintain respite access where possible. Service providers are encouraged to accept clients in need of respite where safe to do so, all services must comply with social distancing measures. 

The Safe Visitor Access campaign has been launched to help older people in our community throughout the COVID-19 crisis. This involves a call for the State government not to be allowing aged care providers to unilaterally declare "voluntary lockdowns". It calls for funding for specialist Visitor Concierge services to be introduced in aged care facilities – which would involve registered nurses testing staff and visitors to ensure they don't pose a health and safety risk to residents. It also calls for mental health workers and official community visitors to be employed to help older people combat loneliness and provide crucial oversight of the industry.

A new hotline for older Australians during COVID-19 pandemic has been launched. Council on the Ageing (COTA) Australia, National Seniors Australia, Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN) and Dementia Australia are working together, supported by the Commonwealth Government, to create the National COVID Older Persons Information Line. Older people and their carers are encouraged to call 1800 171 866 to speak to friendly, specially trained staff from a senior’s advocacy organisation.

People aged 65 years and over are eligible for a free flu shot and should contact their GP to find out when these will be available.

The NSW Government is supporting the Biggest Online Seniors Workout.  The workout session is available for seniors of all levels of fitness and will take place on Wednesday 29 April.

Specific information for carers of people with disability

Children and Young People with Disability Australia (CYDA) have a range of webinars coming up in May for families of people with disability:

National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) providers should not be refusing to provide services, even where there is a case of suspected or confirmed COVID-19. NDIS participants or their representatives should contact the NDIS Quality and Safeguards commission if this occurs on 1800 951 822 or visit https://www.agedcarequality.gov.au/

National Cabinet reaffirmed its commitment to ensuring the well-being of Australians with disability are considered as the coronavirus pandemic unfolds and endorsed the Management and Operational Plan for COVID-19 for People with Disability.

The Plan ensures a national approach to protecting and supporting people with disability, their families and carers during the pandemic by providing guidance on a range of factors that need to be considered in managing and preventing the transmission of COVID-19.

The NDIA Quality and safeguards commission has summarised the plan, the key points are:

  • the Management and Operational Plan for people with disability will supplement the Australian Health Sector Emergency Response Plan for Novel Coronavirus which guides the Australian health sector response
  • the Plan identifies risk factors that may place people with disability at greater risk from COVID-19.
  • the Plan also sets out the roles and responsibilities for protecting the health of people with disability from COVID-19.
  • the Department of Health will oversee the Plan’s implementation.

Carers are recognised throughout the plan with references to:

  • the Carer Recognition Act (Cth) 2010
  • ensuring information is adequate and appropriate for carers
  • ensuring carers can access information and guidance on infection control
  • contingency planning to ensure continuity of supports where carers may not be available
  • prioritising disability workforce who may come into contact with people with disability and carers for COVID testing as safe and effective methods become available
  • considering exemptions from social isolation directions to ensure support can be provided for those requiring greater than 1:1 support in the community
  • implementing a surge workforce to assist with the health care needs of a person with disability if a carer has a confirmed case of COVID 19.

The Department of Social Services (DSS) has published new easy read health resources:

Carers and service providers are invited to raise issues for carers and suggest solutions by completing our online Policy Advice Form survey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/policy_advice_form or emailing Carers NSW on contact@carersnsw.org.au. This information will help us in adjusting our service delivery and advocating for carers’ needs during the coronavirus pandemic.

 

 

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