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Coronavirus (COVID-19) latest information for carers

Mon, 18 Jan

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

NSW Health provides the latest information and advice on the coronavirus (COVID-19) on their website at www.health.nsw.gov.au

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 Monday 18 January 2021

Wearing a face mask is now required in certain indoor settings in Greater Sydney, and it is recommended to wear a face mask in any settings if it is hard to maintain 1.5 metres of physical distance from others or if you have COVID-19 symptoms.

In Greater Sydney (including Wollongong, Central Coast and Blue Mountains) face masks are mandatory in the following indoor settings:

  • shopping (retail, supermarkets and shopping centres)
  • on public/shared transport and waiting areas for public/shared transport
  • indoor entertainment (including cinemas and theatres)
  • places of worship
  • hair and beauty premises
  • visiting an aged care facility.

Face masks are also mandatory for all staff in hospitality venues, gaming areas in licensed premises (including casinos) and for patrons using gaming services. For more information on wearing a face mask visit the NSW Health webpage.

NSW Health provides updates on the latest COVID-19 case locations, where people should self-isolate and get tested immediately or monitor for symptoms.

Anyone even with the mildest of symptoms is urged to get tested and isolate at home until the test results are confirmed negative.

Carers NSW Education and Training team is hosting a session, Caring through Crisis: COVID-19, on Tuesday, 19 January, 2.00pm – 3.30pm. Caring through Crisis: COVID-19 provides carers with an opportunity to connect, share experiences and strategies in caring through COVID-19. The session will focus on:

  • Key messages in keeping COVID -19 safe
  • Identifying and implementing strategies for self-care
  • Identifying and addressing barriers to service delivery
  • Building confidence in getting back into the community
  • Strategies to address the needs of the person being cared for in the current environment
  • Awareness of what and where to access up to date information and supports when needed.

You can register for this event here.

At the end of the session participants will also receive a copy of the Caring thorough Crisis: COVID-19 handbook. The handbook provides general information on staying safe and taking care of your physical and mental health. For more information please email education@carersnsw.org.au.

The Federal Government has developed a COVID-19 Vaccine National Rollout Strategy which identifies the priority populations for vaccination and the phases they will be provided in Australia. The vaccine rollout is expected to begin in Australia next month and will progress in five phases. Included within the first phase is quarantine and border workers, frontline health workers, and aged care and disability staff and residents. Elderly Australians, people with disability and underlying medical conditions, and key health workers will be included in the second phase.

Specific information for carers of older people

New South Wales Health has issued updated advice to residential aged care providers and home care providers, including:

  • All staff and visitors must wear a surgical mask whilst in a Residential Aged Care Facility (RACF)
  • All RACFs in the Northern Area of the Northern Beaches, City of Wollongong, Cumberland City Council or the Canterbury Ward of Canterbury Bankstown Council must exclude all visitors, except those performing essential caring functions.

All aged care workers and providers have been reminded of the need to consistently follow Commonwealth guidance, and state and territory government requirements and directions on Personal Protective Equipment use. NSW related directions are available here.

Anyone living in an aged care facility, their family or carers who needs support regarding visitor restrictions should contact the Older Person’s Advocacy Network on 1800 700 600.

The Australian Government has strengthened a range of resources to support the social connection, mental health and wellbeing of senior Australians, including the Government’s free digital mental health gateway, Head to Health. These services include:

  • HeadtoHealth – www.headtohealth.gov.au
  • BeyondBlue (1800 512 348) – www.coronavirus.beyondblue.org.au
  • Lifeline (13 11 14) – www.lifeline.org.au
  • On the Line for the Suicide Call Back Service (1300 659 467)
  • Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN) – www.opan.com.au
  • Older Australians and their families and aged care staff who require grief, loss and bereavement counselling can contract the Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement has a free telephone service available on 1800 22 22 00.
  • Dementia Australia delivers the National Dementia Support Program (NDSP) which includes the National Dementia Helpline. The Helpline is free and provides information and advice including caring for people living with dementia and how families and carers can look after themselves. The Helpline is available Monday to Friday, 8.00am to 8.00pm (AEDT) by phoning 1800 100 500. It will be closed on the following public holidays - 25 and 28 December 2020, 1 and 26 January 2021.
  • Dementia Support Australia delivers the free Dementia Behaviours Management Advisory Service (DBMAS) and Severe Behaviour Response Teams (SBRT).These services can assist carers when behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia are affecting a person’s care or quality of life. These programs are available 24 hours a day by phoning 1800 699 799.

Specific information for carers of people with disabilities

Official advice from the NSW Health Public Health Response Branch for residential disability care providers and home care service providers continues to be updated on the NSW Health Disability Support Providers webpage.

NSW Health has recently published a new document Alternative approaches for COVID-19 testing for people with disability. The purpose of the paper is to identify challenges faced by people with disability in accessing COVID-19 testing and propose solutions to improve their access to testing and reduce the risk of transmission. The advice is for people with disability, carers, services providers, primary care physicians (GPs), health services, public health units and peak disability groups.

The Disability Information Helpline provides information and referrals for people with disability who need help because of COVID-19. The Helpline is available from Monday to Friday 8.00am to 8.00pm (AEDT) by calling 1800 643 787 and can refer people to advocacy, counselling, and other supports they may need. More information about the Helpline, as well as a range of accessible COVID-19 resources, is available at www.dss.gov.au/disabilityhelp.

NDIS Participants purchasing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) has advised that Participants who receive an average of at least one hour a day of face-to-face daily living supports can access up to $50 per week from their budget for PPE for their use when their support worker is supporting them. This support is currently available in NSW and Victoria until 28 February 2021.

NDIS participants are encouraged to access NDIS services either online or over the phone. Participants can phone the NDIS Contact Centre on 1800 800 110 and select option 5 for COVID-19 enquiries.

If you need individual information or support, please phone Carers NSW 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 www.surveymonkey.com/r/policy_advice_form or email Carers NSW on contact@carersnsw.org.au.