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 7 August, 2020

The Centre for Social Impact has produced a series of COVID-19 related fact sheets, including:

  • Fact Sheet Two: Loneliness & Social Connection
  • Fact Sheet Three: Protecting People with Disability
  • Fact Sheet Four: Digital Inclusion
  • Fact Sheet Five: Community Services Responses to COVID-19
  • Fact Sheet Six: Home Learning and COVID-19
  • Fact Sheet Seven: Indigenous Financial Impacts and COVID-19
  • Fact Sheet Eight: Social Isolation, Ageing, and COVID-19
  • Fact Sheet Nine: Youth Unemployment and COVID-19
  • Fact Sheet Ten: Financial Wellbeing and COVID-19

Carers NSW launched the briefing, COVID-19 and carers: A review of the evidence. The briefing analysed studies and consultations undertaken to better understand carers’ experiences and support needs during the COVID-19 pandemic. The main challenges experienced by carers during COVID-19 have been described fairly consistently across the Australian and international sources examined and were divided into six main categories: health and wellbeing, service access, caring role, education and employment, finances, and technology.

New research from the UK has found that large numbers of carers seeking support with their physical and mental health during COVID-19 have not been able to access that support.

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.

The Australian Council of Trade Unions and Business Council of Australia have formed a rare alliance, writing an open letter to the Attorney General Christian Porter, requesting a broad, national paid pandemic leave scheme, ensuring all Australian workers can stay home if they're sick.

Mental health

The Australian Government will provide 10 additional Medicare subsidised psychological therapy sessions for people subjected to further restrictions in areas impacted by the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. These additional sessions will be available to people subject to public health orders restricting their movement within the state or territory, issued at any time from 1 July 2020 to 31 March 2021, and to people who are required to isolate or quarantine under public health orders. Patients will be required to have a Mental Health Treatment Plan and a review with their GP to access the additional sessions. This measure will commence on Friday 7 August and be available until 31 March 2021.

Emerging Minds has released a toolkit on supporting children’s mental health through COVID-19. The tools include:

  • A practical guide to working with children and families through telehealth
  • Supporting children during the COVID-19 pandemic – a printable summary
  • Using play to support children through the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Managing routines for children during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Talking to children about the COVID-19 pandemic

One Door Mental Health is partnering with South Western Sydney Primary Health Network and Beyond Blue to provide the NewAccess program to residents of South Western Sydney.  The program is a free mental health coaching program for anyone 18+ living or working in the South West Sydney region who feels stressed, anxious or overwhelmed about everyday life challenges, such as work, study, relationships, health and loneliness.

A recent article by Beyond Blue provides simple advice about filtering news about COVID-19.

Specific information for carers of older people

Residential aged care facilities are being reminded to ensure they have up-to-date contact details (including mobile and email) for the authorised representative of each resident living within the facility. These details should be readily available to facilitate prompt and regular communication with residents’ families in the instance of a COVID-19 case being linked to the facility. It is recommended facilities contact all authorised representatives to ensure contact details are up-to-date, and to remind them that they will be the primary contact. Authorised representatives will be encouraged to share the information they receive directly from providers about their loved one’s health and wellbeing with wider family and friends.

A new Department of Health fact sheet has emphasised that where residents of aged care facilities wish to leave the residential environment during COVID-19, families are responsible for their care and safety, including the use of PPE, with the option of facilities assisting with the provision of this equipment. They will be eligible for the Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP) support but not a high level home care package support.

The state’s Chief Health Officer has advised all NSW aged care facilities must ensure:

  • There is an infection control lead or champion at the facility
  • Staff are well trained and can demonstrate competency in infection prevention and control, particularly use of PPE
  • Sufficient stocks of PPE are held on site.

Given the current risk of COVID-19 now in the community, NSW Health has extended requirements for face masks and visitation restrictions in residential aged care facilities (RACF) across new local government areas.

The NSW Chief Health Officer has added the local government areas of Waverley, Woollahra, Randwick and the eastern part of the City of Sydney to the list of regions required to implement increased protective measures for residential and home care providers. The measures include:

  • Any visitors to any residential aged care facility (RACF) who have been in the following local government areas in the previous 14 days should be excluded from the facility: Waverley, Woollahra, Randwick, the eastern part of the City of Sydney, Parramatta, Bankstown, Fairfield, Liverpool, Campbelltown, Camden, Wingecarribee and Wollondilly.
  • All aged care staff who reside in the above LGAs or a NSW/VIC border community must wear a surgical mask while in the facility.
  • Staff and visitors who have visited any of the locations on the same date as a COVID-19 case (see updated list of venues and dates) should be excluded for a period of 14 days since their visit to the listed location.
  • All residential aged care staff who work in RACFs located within the above LGAs and in communities along the NSW/VIC border must wear a surgical mask while in the facility
  • RACFs in the above LGAs should not allow any visitors (visitors performing essential caring functions may be allowed but must wear a mask). In exceptional circumstances, providers should seek advice from their local NSW Health public health unit on 1300 066 055.
  • Home Care Service providers who either live or work in any of these designated local government areas must also wear face masks while providing services.

The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commissioner, Janet Anderson has written to aged care providers regarding their obligations to implement all necessary steps to mitigate the risks of COVID-19. The Commission will shortly be undertaking unannounced checks of aged care services to observe infection control practices and ensure that everyone is adhering to safe personal protective equipment (PPE) protocols and infection control arrangements. The Commission acknowledges the ongoing efforts of all aged care providers.

A new set of resources, ‘Six Steps to Stop the Spread’ are available to remind aged care workers, residents, families and visitors of the simple things they can do to prevent COVID-19 outbreaks in residential aged care facilities:

The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF), is calling for paid pandemic leave to be extended to all those working in aged care who need to get tested and self-isolate if they have symptoms of COVID-19, are a close contact of someone infected with COVID-19, or are required to self-isolate or quarantine.

A new report from the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) has found that older people are the most isolated during the COVID-19 pandemic. The keying findings of the report reveal that many people (37 percent) found it difficult to connect with family members living elsewhere, though most (93 percent) made the effort. The families who kept up the best connection with other family members often lived close by or made creative use of technology. Many older people struggled with video calls and still depended on face-to-face visits for contact and support.

AIFS has released a second report in their series on Staying connected when we’re apart. This report focuses on keeping in touch with elderly loved ones, and reveals older Australians are among the most isolated from family and friends during the coronavirus pandemic. Key findings include:

  • Many people (37%) found it difficult to connect with family members living elsewhere, though almost everyone (93%) made the effort.
  • The families who kept up the best connection often lived close by or made creative use of technology
  • Many older people struggled with video calls and the like, and many still depended on face-to-face visits for contact and support.

The LGBTI Health Alliance has released a report on the impacts of COVID-19 on older LGBTI Australians.

Specific information for carers of people with disabilities

NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission has published an information pack for NDIS participants and a number of COVID-19 fact sheets in Easy Read, Auslan and 11 other languages

The Australian Government has released new resources on wearing a mask in Easy Read.

First Peoples Disability Network continue to update and publish COVID-19 resources online for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living with disability and their carers.

Down Syndrome Australia wants to hear how COVID-19 has affected people with Down Syndrome and families so they can advocate to Federal Government and provide the right information and support. There is a full survey , and an easy read version can be found here.

NSW Health has information for disability support providers, which contains current recommendations about wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and guidance for continuing to support people with disability, as individuals who receive disability, home care or other personal care support services are more vulnerable to serious complications if they become infected, depending on the nature of their disability and other medical history.

In recognition of the changing environment, the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care has developed new resources to support health service organisations to provide safe care for people with cognitive impairment during COVID-19.

The National Disability Insurance Scheme continues to update their FAQ’s page Your Health and Safety which contains answers to questions about recently announced PPE provisions.

Researchers from the Disability and Health unit at the University of Melbourne and UNSW Canberra conducted an online survey of 357 disability support workers (DSWs) between late May and June 2020 about working during the COVID-19 pandemic. The key findings relate to physical distancing, COVID-19 infection control training, purchase of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), COVID-19 testing, support provided, and financial and psychological stresses experienced by workers. 90 percent of disability support workers said they were not able to physically distance at work. 53 percent provided support with tasks that require close personal contact, like feeding and brushing teeth. 23 percent of workers had not received any COVID-19 infection control training and 69 percent of those wanted more training. More information here.

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.

You can also provide feedback and your views by completing the Carers NSW online Policy Advice Form survey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/policy_advice_form or email Carers NSW on contact@carersnsw.org.au.

 

 

 

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