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.
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.
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 2 October 2020
The Australian Department of Health has released an updated resource: Identifying the symptoms of COVID-19.
NSW has joined the federal pandemic leave scheme which provides residents with pandemic leave payments of $1500 during the 14-day period of self-isolation because of COVID-19.
The Australian Government's Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment is a lump sum payment to help you during the 14 days you need to self-isolate, quarantine or care for someone. If you need longer-term help, you may be eligible for other payments. The Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment is for people living in NSW who can't earn an income because they must self-isolate, quarantine or care for someone who has COVID-19. To be eligible, you must be directed to self-isolate or quarantine by NSW Health. Apply for the Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment.
From 28 September the rate of JobKeeper was reduced from $1,500 to $1,200 per fortnight for people who were working 20 hours or more per week, $750 per fortnight for people who were employed for fewer than 20 hours a week.
From 25 September 2020, the base rate of JobSeeker Payment plus the $250 per fortnight Coronavirus Supplement was reduced to $815.70 for single recipients with no dependents. People are also able to earn up to $300 per fortnight before their payment is affected which would bring their total income to $1115 per fortnight.
To be eligible for a part-payment of JobSeeker Payment a person’s income has to be below the income of $1257 per fortnight for singles with no dependents, subject to meeting other requirements such as residency and the assets test.
People receiving JobKeeper Payment at a rate of $1200 per fortnight may be eligible for a part payment of JobSeeker Payment of about $276 per fortnight including the Coronavirus Supplement bringing their total taxpayer funded income to $1476 per fortnight.
People receiving JobKeeper at the part time rate of $750 per fortnight may be eligible for a part payment of JobSeeker of about $546 per fortnight including the Coronavirus Supplement bringing their total taxpayer funded income to $1295 per fortnight.
Shadow Minister for Families and Social Services, Linda Burney, says up to 400,000 Australians could be forced to wait up to over three months before they can access JobSeeker, when the Government resumes the liquid asset waiting period.
- Under the liquid assets waiting period, singles with $5,500 in liquid assets must wait to access income support. Those with $11,500 or more will be required to wait 13 weeks.
- Liquid assets can include savings; a redundancy that is owed but not yet paid; loans to family members; or superannuation that has been accessed early.
- Linda Burney has raised her concerns that Australians will be expected to draw on their savings before they can access help.
Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business, Michaelia Cash and Minister for Families and Social Services, Anne Ruston say the Morrison Government will introduce a further step in the gradual return to mutual obligation arrangements for all job seekers from 28 September 2020, with the exception of Victoria where mutual obligation requirements will remain suspended. Elements of mutual obligation requirements for job seekers may include:
- participating in appointments with their employment service provider
- agreeing to a job plan
- participating in agreed activities where it is safe to do so
- looking for work
- accepting an offer of suitable work.
Services Australia has a range of online and phone based information for people in financial hardship to access, with more information specific to COVID-19 online at: https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/individuals/services/financial-information-service
On the 20th of March and the 20th of September each year, pensioners would ordinarily expect an increase to their payments – indexed to meet increases in costs and living expenses. For the first time in a quarter of a century however, the pension will not be indexed. 796,332 people in NSW will not receive an increase to their payments.
Minister for Government Services, Stuart Robert has confirmed that the pause on debt raising and recovery will be extended until 30 October 2020 in recognition of the ongoing pressure on people’s budgets during the coronavirus pandemic. The temporary pause, which was announced in April 2020 was originally scheduled to end on October 3 2020.
Millions of Australians will continue to receive medical care and support in their own homes with the Australian Government investing more than $2 billion to extend a range of COVID-19 health measures for a further six months, to 31 March 2021. Medicare-subsidised telehealth and pathology services, GP-led respiratory clinics, home medicines delivery, public and private hospital services will all be extended, as well as further investments in PPE. These health initiatives play a major role in detecting, preventing and treating COVID-19.
Specific information for carers of older people
There are no specific restrictions for people over 70 about self-isolating or staying home in NSW during the pandemic. However, people over 70 can have more severe symptoms if they contract COVID-19. NSW Health has developed top tips for safe gatherings for seniors.
The Older Persons COVID-19 Support Line helps older people, their loved ones and carers stay connected and continue to receive services they need during the pandemic. The support line offers practical help and advice. You can learn about coronavirus restrictions, getting information about aged care support services or talk to someone about mental health. People with concerns about themselves, a friend or family member living with dementia, can speak with a trained Dementia Australia advisor on the support line. The free telephone service is open Monday to Friday, except public holidays, from 8.30am to 6.00pm. You can call the support line on 1800 171 866. More information is available in the Updated factsheet: Help for older Australians.
Emergency access to the Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP) assessment and referral pathways have been extended to 31 June 2021. During this period, access to CHSP services may be provided to older Australians in COVID-19 affected areas without an aged care assessment where there remains an urgent need. In addition:
- CHSP providers who have delivered emergency COVID-19 support to clients for eight weeks without an aged care assessment, and where the client requires ongoing services, must now support these clients to be assessed by a Regional Assessment Service.
- All clients in receipt of services are required to be registered with My Aged Care, regardless of whether they have received an aged care assessment.
Emergency leave provision for permanent aged care residents has been extended until 30 June 2021. Aged care homes will continue to be paid residential care subsidy when residents are on emergency leave, ensuring neither residents nor providers are disadvantaged. Residents who take Emergency Leave must continue to pay their basic daily fees, means tested care fees and daily accommodation payments. A fact sheet for residents is available here.
- Tier 1 Clinical support is available for residents who temporarily re-locate from an aged care home that is significantly impacted by COVID-19. This support covers personal care and nursing services equivalent to a Level 4 Home Care Package. No fees will be charged. It is accessed by contacting OPAN on 1800 700 600.
- Tier 2 Entry-level services are available for all people who decide to temporarily return to the community from their aged care home during the pandemic. This support covers a range of care tasks including with meals, transport, shopping, health services, low level nursing etc. Client contributions may apply. It is accessed by contacting My Aged Care on 1800 200 422.
The Australian Medical Association and Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation have written to the Prime Minister calling on the Federal Government to take urgent action to prevent further COVID-19 outbreaks in aged care. Together, they are calling for:
- The immediate establishment of the nationally-agreed Aged Care Health Emergency Response Operations Centres (ACERC) to help prevent outbreaks
- Adequate access to PPE, training in infection control, and reviewing infection control procedures
- National paid pandemic leave arrangements
- Increased funding for home care packages
- More transparency and accountability in how aged care providers spend Government funding.
The Department of Health has published two new video resources from Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer Allison McMillian to assist aged care workers who are required to wear face shields:
The Australian Government has published recommended minimum requirements for the use of masks or respirators by health and residential care workers in areas with significant community transmission. The Australian Government has also updated infection control guidelines for residential aged care facilities.
At the National Cabinet on 18 September 2020 there was an update on the work being done to boost aged care preparedness at the provider, local, state and national level. Within each jurisdictions’ public health response structure, a dedicated aged care emergency response team has been established and key personnel identified at the state and Commonwealth level.
Specific information for carers of people with disabilities
The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) has published a new information pack ‘Support for participants with coronavirus (COVID-19)’ which is available here.
The NDIA has created a new page for parents and carers of children remote learning which provides FAQs around NDIS supports and education during COVID-19. They also note that parents and carers should
- reach out to the Local Area Coordinator if your child is seven years of age and above, or the Early Childhood Partner if they are under seven years of age, if their child’s support needs have changed.
- talk to your school or school principal in the first instance if they have school specific questions.
A new four part webinar series will provide community, health, and disability service providers who provide support and services to people with disability in the community, and their managers guidance on responding to emergencies:
- Webinar 1: Person-Centred Emergency Preparedness Toolkit (20 October) Register: https://lnkd.in/gpNa8UG
- Webinar 2: Disaster Management and Recovery Toolkit (3 November) Register: https://lnkd.in/g7DJmeY
- Webinar 3: Understanding your role in times of disaster (17 November) Register: https://lnkd.in/ghaeWkF
- Webinar 4: Inclusive and collaborative working together in times of disaster (1 December) Register: https://lnkd.in/gjePQaX
An interesting US article on 5 things people with disability need to make it through COVID-19 highlights the role of the wider community in protecting those who may be more vulnerable.
If you need individual information or support, please phone Carers NSW (Monday to Friday, 9.00am to 5.00pm) 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.