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 27 August, 2020

Wearing a face mask in Australia is now recommended by health experts in areas where community transmission of COVID-19 is high or whenever physical distancing is not possible. A new resource is available called Do I need to wear a mask.

NSW Health now has new accessible resources in relation to COVID-19 providing accessible information on topics including:

  • What is COVID-19?
  • Getting tested
  • How to self-isolate
  • Going to hospital
  • Supporting people with disability
  • Information in other languages

Carers Australia has submitted their Pre-Budget Submission for 2020. One key recommendation has been for treasury to provide additional stimulus payments to all carers receiving carer payments across Australia. As part of this recommendation, Carers Australia highlighted the high economic impact of COVID-19 on carers, especially young carers and women in lower-paid, highly casualised sectors. As part of their recommendation, Carers Australia also called for the ongoing needs associated with carer payments are factored into COVID-19 Recovery considerations.  

The Government has confirmed at the Senate COVID-19 Committee that the Pension will not be indexed until March 2021. Most other payments, including the Disability Support Pension, Carer Payment and JobSeeker Payment, will not be indexed either. Following the indexation announcement, Council on the Ageing (COTA) is calling for an additional COVID-19 stimulus payment for pensioners.

New COVID related advertising is targeting young people in the 20-29 year age group as now the most likely to contract COVID-19, with young women more so than young men. Previously cases of COVID-19 have been reported across all age groups. However there is now a shift to younger populations.

The Federal Government is proposing cutting off HECS support for students who fail more than 50% of their courses. There are concerns this may disadvantage young carers struggling to balance caring with their studies.

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) is helping culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) patients access care from a GP during the COVID-19 pandemic. This comes following GP concerns about CALD patients avoiding medical care due to fear of the COVID-19 virus, while also bearing the brunt of the pandemic, including increased mental health symptoms, isolation and loneliness. The RACGP's Expert Advice Matters campaign is encouraging CALD patients to keep looking after their heath during the COVID-19 pandemic and consult their GP for any health concerns.

A website for patients has been translated into the most commonly spoken languages other than English, including Arabic, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Hindi and Vietnamese. The websites include practical information for patients on how they can safely access care from a GP, including telehealth and telephone consultations featuring free interpreters. You can view the website at www.expertadvicematters.com.au/

GPs are helping to spread the message by sharing videos of themselves speaking in different languages, urging patients not to delay routine healthcare and explaining how they can safely consult with their GP. You can find the videos on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLKg37k2DuVFPDvTWVer3SyZBK31R80BvE

Specific information for carers of older people

NSW Health has developed new information for families of people in residential aged care.

The Australian Medical Association has provided a submission to the Royal Commission calling for every residential aged care home in Australia to be urgently and comprehensively assessed for its ability to safely care for residents during the COVID-19 pandemic. Last week the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety held a hearing in relation to the aged care response to COVID-19. Transcripts will be made available online here.

Guidance is available to help residential aged care providers and their staff communicate with families when a resident tests positive for COVID-19.

The Commonwealth Department of Health has partnered with the aged care industry to develop the National Aged Care Emergency Response (NACER) Program. The initiative mobilises aged care staff from areas across Australia not experiencing community transmission, to assist in caring for people in aged care facilities impacted by COVID-19. While the initial focus is on supporting Victoria, it is a national program that can be expanded where and when it is needed. Ideally teams of six will be coordinated by the aged care provider and sent on placement for four weeks, followed by two weeks of quarantine.

The Australian Government released the review findings into the spread of COVID-19 at Sydney aged care facility Newmarch House on Sunday 24 August. Changes implemented in light of the findings include:

  • Ensuring early identification of all COVID-19 cases via immediate and repeated testing of all residents and staff as soon as the first case is identified;
  • Actions to reinforce compromised management;
  • Immediate engagement of advocacy group Older People’s Advocacy Network (OPAN) to ensure services and information are available to providers, residents and their families;
  • The provision of support from the Victorian Aged Care Response Centre (in Victoria) to improve communication, staff and management support;
  • Expansion of surge workforce providers for facilities affected by outbreaks;
  • Practical additional infection control training, including support from AUSMAT

There are two tiers of support available under the Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP) to support residential aged care clients who choose to temporarily move out of residential care due to COVID-19.

  • Tier 1 Clinical support for clients who relocate from a facility that is significantly impacted by COVID-19

Temporary clinical support (Nursing and Personal Care) is available to clients who have had to relocate from a significantly impacted residential aged care facility. This support is the equivalent to a Level 4 Home Care Package.

The client or their family can call OPAN on 1800 700 600 to discuss their care needs. OPAN will provide information on the services available, the process for transition to community care and can arrange for a referral to a suitable local provider to deliver clinical services in the home for up to eight weeks.

  • Tier 2 Entry level services for clients who voluntarily decide to return to the community

Clients of residential aged care facilities that are not eligible for the complex clinical support above, but still choose to return to the community, may contact My Aged Care on 1800 200 422. My Aged Care will provide information on the services available, the process for transition to the community. They can arrange for a referral to access some entry-level home support services (including Meals, Transport, Unaccompanied Shopping, Social Support Individual, Nursing, Personal Care and Allied Health and Therapy Services) for up to eight weeks through the CHSP.

More information can be found in the COVID-19 & the CHSP- Information for clients, families and carers fact sheet.

Dementia Support Australia (providers of DBMAS and SBRT) has developed advice to help aged care providers deliver the best possible support for people experiencing Behavioural and Psychological Symptoms of Dementia during the pandemic. Dementia Training Australia has also produced two new resources:

  • COVID -19 An Informative Resources Guide: practical information links on COVID-19 including tips for supporting people with dementia
  • Dementia Discovery: micro-courses (as quick as 15 minutes) giving introductory level education about dementia, including communication strategies in care settings.

Specific information for carers of people with disabilities

NSW Health has produced a new website with simple information and resources about COVID-19 for people with disability.

An Easy Read version of the Guidelines on the rights of people with disability in health and disability care during COVID-19 is now available.

Additional funding has been allocated to the COVID-19 Disability Information Hotline which is now available 8am-8pm Monday to Friday. The hotline has received over 2,700 calls since April 2020.

Call 1800 643 787 or visit the website at http://www.dss.gov.au/disabilityhelp.

The National Disability Insurance Agency has released new Early Childhood Intervention resources in Easy Read and translated in language for families and carers

Resources are also available in other languages at https://www.ndis.gov.au/languages

The Specialist Intellectual Disability Health teams of SLHD and SESLHD, in partnership with Central and Eastern Sydney PHN, have developed a series of four accredited workshops aiming to increase awareness of how to better care for people with intellectual disability in general and allied health practice. Recorded sessions now available in their video library include:

The Australian Human Rights Commission developed the Guidelines on the rights of people with disability in health and disability care during COVID-19 to assist health care, disability services and support workers take a human rights-based approach to decision-making during the pandemic.

A new report Left Out and Locked Down released by Every Australian Counts asked more than 700 NDIS participants and their families about the impact COVID-19 and the lockdown on their lives during the first wave of the pandemic, how they coped, and their views on changes made to the NDIS during this time. Findings included:

  • People said they felt forgotten and ignored by government and by the community during the pandemic – despite the very real challenges that they faced.
  • 32% said their costs had gone through the roof, and many were struggling to make ends meet. Almost 50% of people with disability were already in already living in poverty before the pandemic began.
  • Many people were stressed, anxious and stretched almost to breaking point.
  • And while changes made to the NDIS during this time helped some, others found themselves unable to get what they needed.
  • Confusing, inconsistent and changing information contributed to people feeling even more overwhelmed and unsure of where to turn or what to do.
  • For some the complicated NDIS processes and lengthy delays were exhausting and frustrating – but not life threatening. But for others continued delays threatened their very health and wellbeing.
  • Despite all of this, there was, and remains, very strong support for the NDIS amongst people with disability and their families. They fought for it, they believe in it. They desperately want it to work.
  • And they want to be partners in making that happen – they want the NDIA to talk less and listen more. They want to check changes before they are made to make sure they will work for them. And they want a simpler streamlined scheme so they can get on with their lives.

The Disability Royal Commission has released a special edition of their newsletter focusing on the recent public hearing on the impact of COVID-19 on people with disability, features include

  • Transcripts
  • The opening statement from Chair Ronald Sackville who noted ‘‘in one sense we are all in this together … but we have not all been affected equally’.
  • An overview of topics covered in the hearing, including –
  1.  a lack of protective equipment for carers and people with disability exposing them to the risk of infection
  2. financial hardship
  3. extremely high levels of stress among people with disability and their families.

The Disability Royal Commission hearings on COVID-19 recently raised the following issues:

  • Social isolation – including increased isolation for carers due to increased caring role
  • Reduced opportunities for the identification or reporting of abuse of people with disability due to reduced social contact
  • Reduced support workers, community access or contact with health professionals reduced opportunities for people with disability to speak out where they have experienced abuse
  • Advocates not considered a worker or visitor in congregate settings – could not have in-person contact with existing and new clients where abuse may be occurring
  • Many DFV services (especially online) are not accessible or appropriate for some people with disability.
  • Lack of coordinated national response for people with disability
  • Limited or delayed information and guidance for people with disability as well as disability service providers
  • Coordination of PPE – initially unclear about funding and access which made it difficult for people with dis/carers to source
  • Limited consideration or planning of continuing support for people with disability in congregate settings (ie. residential aged care, group homes, ADE, etc.), cutting them off from the rest of the community and their circles of support.
  • Challenges faced by people with disability who are not accessing NDIS (e.g. unable to access priority delivery or fund through NDIS funding).

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.