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 Thursday 25 June 2020

Information released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) indicates that 835,000 Australians are now unemployed. In two months, the percentage of people aged 15 and over employed in Australia decreased from around 62.5 percent to around 58.7 percent.

The ABC has reported that the jobseeker payment is poised to be increased by the Federal Government, recognising that the jobless rate is likely to remain uncomfortably high for quite some time due to the ongoing impact of the coronavirus restrictions. Treasurer Josh Frydenberg is set to make an announcement in July when the mini-budget is released.

The Grattan Institute has published a report on the inequity experienced by disadvantaged school students due to disrupted learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. It discovered that students tend to learn less when their schooling is done remotely, rather than in the classroom. The longer they are away from regular classes, the worse the damage can be. According to the report, Australian teachers believe that students learn at only about 50 to 75 percent of their usual pace during the COVID-19 lockdown. Disadvantaged students, who were already falling behind before the pandemic, will have slipped further back.

Specific information for carers of older people

The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) has provided updated advice about restrictions on entry into residential aged care facilities (RACFs) during COVID-19. AHPPC considers the personal welfare and mental health of residents to be of vital importance. Key changes to the recommended advice on visitor restrictions include:

  • Permitting children of all ages to visit residents.
  • Allowing visiting service providers such as hairdressers, diversional therapists and allied health professionals to enter RACFs, where these services cannot be provided through other models of care.
  • Not limiting the number of hours a spouse or close relative can spend with a resident.

External excursions for groups of residents are still not recommended. However, residents should be permitted to leave the facility to attend small family gatherings.

AHPPC continues to advise that only visitors and staff who have been vaccinated against influenza may enter a facility. RACFs should also continue to undertake health symptom screening of all people entering the facility. Here is an updated fact sheet for families and residents.

A new Emergency Leave period for permanent aged care residents will last from 1 April to 30 September 2020, with residents being able to take leave without impacting their social leave balances. It outlines:

  • Residents’ social leave balances for 2020-21 will start at 52 days as of 1 October, 2020.
  • Fees paid by residents for exceeding their 52 day social leave limit between 1 April and 30 September 2020 will be reimbursed by their provider.
  • Aged care homes will continue to be paid residential care subsidy when residents are on Emergency Leave.
  • A payment system solution for the new Emergency Leave is being designed by Services Australia for a late June 2020 release.

The Australian Department of Health is beginning to take careful steps to ease some of the restrictions that have helped to suppress the spread of the virus. Updated guidance is available from the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee on establishing COVID-Safe ways of living and working, including:

Leading Age Services Australia (LASA) is asking for nationally coordinated health system protocols to protect aged care residents and staff from COVID-19. They advocate that the protocols must be supported by government and health authorities with adequate staffing, funding and personal protective equipment to maximise the safety of older people from COVID-19.
LASA is requesting that:

  • People in aged care facilities who test positive must be permitted to transfer to hospitals, where lifesaving care and infection quarantine facilities are available.
  • In the event that a resident tests positive to COVID-19, consideration must be given to the risk of infection to other residents and staff and the option of transfer to hospital for treatment and quarantine control.

The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety will resume hearings next month after a break to protect hearing participants and staff during the initial stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. The suspension has also allowed those working in the aged care sector to focus on managing the impact of the pandemic on their delivery of aged care services.

NSW Health has released two resources for older adults:

  •  Stay Connected poster – which contains information on how to stay in touch with family and friends while staying at home, giving examples of how people can make video and phone calls and keep medical Telehealth appointments during the COVID-19 pandemic.  
  • Stay Healthy poster – which contains information on making healthy choices to stay well and happy at home, giving examples of eating healthy food, staying active at home, sitting less and moving the body at home.

Manchester University has developed a booklet to support older people during COVID-19. This has been adapted by the NSW Agency for Clinical Innovation (ACI) to reflect current conditions and restrictions in NSW. It includes information on: being active at home, how to exercise at home safely doing strength and balance exercises, seated exercises, standing exercises and nutrition tips.

Specific information for carers of people with disability

People with disability can complete a ‘Coronavirus (COVID-19) hospital passport’ form and provide it to frontline health workers to ensure they understand their needs. It includes:

  • personal details
  • details of key support people (i.e. carers)
  • best form of communication
  • health information
  • medicine information

A Risk Management Plan for students with disability returning to school has been released. This form may help parents and carers to plan with schools how to manage COVID-19 health risks. It encourages parents and carers to seek medical advice from the student’s doctor, and consider a three-way conversation with the student’s doctor and school.

A Coronavirus (COVID-19) Fact Sheet for families of a person with an intellectual or developmental disability during the COVID-19 pandemic has been updated. It provides information on how families can assist their family member to use preventative measures, such as physical distance and good hygiene, access testing and treatment if any symptoms of COVID-19 develop, based on advice from the Australian Government and state and territory governments.

The NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission have created an information pack for NDIS participants. The pack explains how COVID-19 may affect some services and supports they receive, and what they can expect from their support workers.

An ABC Life article has highlighted the challenges facing people with disability during eased lockdown restrictions, pointing out that for many Australians living with a chronic illness or disability, social isolation is still their main way of staying healthy and safe, and how the challenges posed by COVID-19 are far from over for them.  

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.