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.

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 Friday 15 May 2020

While some restrictions due to COVID-19 are being lifted in NSW, The Department of Health continues to encourage people 70 years or older, 65 years or older with chronic health problems, Indigenous Australians 50 years or older or with chronic health problems and people with compromised (weakened) immune systems to stay at home where possible.

The Australian Government's 3-step framework to create a COVIDSafe society with new ways of living and working is available here. The Underlying principles of the framework are

  • Maintain 1.5m distancing and good hygiene
  • Stay home if unwell
  • Frequently clean and disinfect communal areas
  • COVIDSafe plan for workplaces and premises

In NSW, the following will be allowed from Friday 15 May:

  • Outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people
  • Cafes and restaurants can seat 10 patrons at any one time
  • Up to five visitors to a household at any one time
  • Weddings, with up to 10 guests
  • Indoor funerals with up to 20 mourners, outdoor funerals can have up to 30 mourners
  • Religious gatherings/places of worship can have up to 10 worshippers
  • Use of outdoor equipment, with caution
  • Outdoor pools open with restrictions.

Finances

Curtin University and the Australian National University have each published reports about the social and economic impacts of COVID-19.  

The ANU paper provides a summary of COVID-19 on labour market outcomes, income, financial stress, social cohesiveness, political attitudes, wellbeing and psychological distress. It collected information from 3,155 Australians over the period of 14-27 April, 2020. To read the report, click here.

The NSW government has teamed up with both Foodbank and the Rapid Relief Team to deliver emergency relief packages and food boxes to people in need, and who:

  • have lost income or their job, or are on a low income, such as a pensioner
  • have little or no support from friends or relatives to help them with their shopping
  • are struggling with meeting their cost of living bills and affording food and groceries
  • are unable to access delivery services.

The packages contain two weeks of food and personal care items, such as pasta, long life milk, canned vegetables and toilet paper. Service NSW can contacted on 13 77 88 to arrange the Emergency Relief Package.

Assistance is available to aged care recipients who are having difficulty paying their fees. Care recipients who have experienced a reduction in income and/or assets should contact Services Australia on 1800 227 475 to request an ad-hoc review of their aged care fees, noting that a change in circumstances does not necessarily result in a change in fees.

Care recipients who have paid a partial lump sum deposit can have any remaining daily payments drawn from their lump sum balance to meet their accommodation costs and can request that other fees also be drawn down. Care recipients can receive assistance in understanding their aged care costs and options by contacting Services Australia’s free Financial Information Service (FIS). To make an appointment, phone 132 300 and say “Financial Information Service” when prompted.

Care recipients may be able to access the Pension Loans Scheme (PLS). The PLS is a voluntary reverse mortgage through Services Australia that offers older Australians a fortnightly income stream to supplement their retirement income. Care recipients can contact FIS for assistance. Care recipients who are not able to pay their fees may be eligible for financial hardship assistance. Further information is available on the My Aged Care website.

Legal Aid NSW is running webinars on a range of legal topics relating to COVID-19 on the topics below:

  • Family law and parenting in the time of COVID-19
  • Elder abuse in the time of COVID-19
  • Fines and Work and Development Orders in the time of COVID-19
  • Money problems in the time of COVID-19
  • Working with Aboriginal clients in the time of COVID-19.

Webinars which have already been broadcast can be accessed online.

Mental health

Mental Health Carers NSW has compiled a survey for families and carers of people living with a mental illness to see how the COVID 19 Pandemic has impacted them. Click here for more information and to take the survey.

The World Health Organisation has created a stress management guide for coping with adversity, Doing What Matters in Times of Stress: An Illustrated Guide. The guide aims to equip people with practical skills to help cope with stress. According to the guide, a few minutes each day is enough to practice the self-help techniques. The guide can be used alone or with the accompanying audio exercises.

The University of Queensland has developed a range of resources to help parents manage the changes that they are facing in these uncertain times. It provides handy information on:

  • How to talk to children about COVID-19
  • Dealing with emotions effectively in order to be a good role model for children
  • Maintaining and creating everyday routines for working at home and schooling children at home
  • Helping children to tolerate uncertainty.

Youth Action and YFoundations have developed a series of online resources for young people during COVID-19 and a downloadable poster with tips for life during COVID-19, including:

  • staying physically distanced, but socially connected
  • maintaining exercising routines at home or by going for walk
  • understanding that it’s okay to feel anxious and to consider using youth services that are available online
  • connecting with friends, but online only.  

Specific information for carers of older people

The residential aged care visitation code was released on Tuesday 12 May. The Code creates a nationally consistent approach that ensures residents can receive visitors while minimising the risk of spreading COVID-19.

Every person entering a residential aged care facility (RACF) now needs to have a flu vaccination. The Code will be reviewed in three weeks to address any implementation issues. To identify concerns with the Code, email AgedCareVisitorsCode@cota.org.au   

An amendment to the Aged Care Act and the Aged Care (Transitional Provisions) Act 1997 this week ensures that the family or consumer of residential aged care will not take on an unnecessary financial burden if they have passed the 52 day social leave arrangements. It also allows aged care homes to continue to receive subsidies if residents relocate for emergencies.

Emergency situations may include natural disasters, pandemics or other large-scale emergencies that may impact the safe provision of residential aged care and the safety of the resident. More information can be found here.

Leading Age Services Australia (LASA) and the Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN) have partnered to produce a short video series aimed at helping protect older people from COVID-19. Titled ‘Your health is in all of our hands – keeping older Australians safe from COVID-19’, the videos are hosted by Dr Norman Swan. More information can be found here.

The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) presented the findings of its national Aged Care COVID-19 Survey and acknowledged the efforts of aged care workers across the country to keep older Australians safe. A snapshot of COVID-19 survey found:

  • Up to 80 per cent of respondents reported no increase in care staff at their aged care facility to prepare for a COVID-19 outbreak.
  • 77 per cent of respondents reported that their employers had recently updated or implemented infection control procedures for staff.
  • Less than 40 per cent said their aged care facility was prepared for a COVID-19 outbreak.
  • Less than 30 per cent said that their aged care facility had enough supplies of personal protective equipment.

Specific information for carers of people with disability

The Summer Foundation is working to make Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) available for people with disability during COVID-19. Users will need to enter their NDIS number to receive:

  • Priority access to PPE stock
  • Reasonably priced PPE
  • A discount on delivery cost

Disability Ministers from all states and territories have welcomed the announcement of the allocation of an additional 500,000 masks for the disability sector. NDIS providers and self-managing NDIS participants can make requests for PPE from the National Medical Stockpile by emailing NDISCOVIDPPE@health.gov.au

The Department of Health has created Coronavirus webpages for people with disability - COVID-19 advice for people with disability

The Council on the Ageing (COTA) Victoria has released an eBook with ideas to keep you socially connected during the pandemic.

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.

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.