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 18 December 2020
As we have seen over recent days in NSW, we all need to remain vigilant, continue to social distance and practice hand hygiene as COVID-19 has the potential to spread in the community at any time.
New cases of community transmission of COVID-19 have been identified in the Northern Beaches area of Sydney. Greater Sydney is urged to be on high alert and wearing a face mask is recommended by health experts on public transport, areas where community transmission of COVID-19 is high or whenever physical distancing is not possible.
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.
Until further notice disability care facilities in the Northern Beaches Local Government Area should exclude all visitors. Staff in these locations must wear a surgical mask at work.
A number of aged care facilities, particularly in Sydney’s Northern Beaches Local Government Area may stop allowing visitor access until the latest rise in COVID-19 cases is under control. You can contact the Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN) on 1800 237 981, 6.00am to 10.00pm (AEDT) 7 days a week to discuss any concerns or visit https://opan.com.au/covid/
Carers NSW has developed a 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or phone Carers NSW.
As the first COVID-19 vaccine in Australia is expected in early 2021, Carers Australia have written to the Federal Health Minister, calling for carers to be included as a priority group to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. The letter outlines that primary carers are estimated to spend an average of 35 hours per week providing care and are often unable to socially distance from those they care for by virtue of this caring role.
Anglicare Australia recently published survey results showing that JobSeeker increases halved the percentage of people living on $7 a day, and left people with more income across the board. The survey also found:
- Before the jobseeker increase, three quarters of people (72%) skipped meals every week.
- Most skipped an average of 3-4 meals a week.
- Few people believe that Centrelink obligations are helping them find paid work.
- An overwhelming number of people feel their Centrelink activities are pointless.
- Most people (74%) said they would be willing to do Centrelink activities that are fair.
- Even more (75%) want to do activities that lead to work.
Research by the Salvation Army has found that:
- More than 8.1 million Aussies (41%) are feeling financially stressed this Christmas.
- One in three (32.7%) Australians have felt financial pressures and stress significantly impact their lives this year.
- 38% are more stressed about their finances compared to last year.
Specific information for carers of older people
The Australian Government accepted and has acted on all six recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety on COVID-19. The Implementation Progress Report on the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety report – Aged Care and COVID-19 – a special report is available on the Department of Health’s website. In conjunction with the tabling of the report, the Government announced it is investing a further $132.2 million to respond to the Aged Care Royal Commission’s recommendations on COVID-19.
The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission has released a new resource on Outbreak management planning in aged care. This resource provides practical guidance to assist residential aged care providers to support their workers, care recipients, families and visitors to prevent, prepare for and manage outbreaks of COVID-19.
Specific information for carers of people with disabilities
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.
The NSW Ministry of Health has changed the way they are communicating public health guidance for disability service providers. Instead of issuing weekly letters, the updated advice by the NSW Health Public Health Response Branch will be posted live on the NSW Health Disability Support Providers webpage.
NSW Health continues to acknowledge that for residents, the residential disability facility is their home. Providers should be encouraging contact between residents and their families and friends in line with this advice, including visits at their home, if that is the preference of the resident and their family/friends. More information from NSW Health is available here.
The Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability COVID-19 report was tabled in Australian Parliament on 30 November 2020. It cites that it was a “serious failure” that no Australian Government agency with responsibility for disability policy, including the Department of Health, made “any significant effort” to consult with people with disability or their representative organisations during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. It recommends the Australian Government “explicitly commit to ensuring that all agencies responsible for planning and implementing responses to the COVID-19 pandemic and any future emergencies establish and implement formal mechanisms for consulting with and involving people with disability and disability representative organisations in planning and giving effect to the responses.”
To assist with continuation of essential supports in a COVIDSafe manner, NDIS participants and providers in New South Wales will temporarily be able to directly claim the costs of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), including face masks.
Until February 2021, participants will be able to:
- Recover up to $50 per week to purchase Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) (specific dates apply to this based on your state)
- Access increased flexibility to purchase low cost assistive technology (AT)
- Access greater plan flexibility to ensure access to supports
- Plan and self-managed participants can purchase PPE and record and claim their purchases in the usual way. Agency-managed participants can purchase PPE through registered providers.
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 email@example.com.