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 Thursday 19 November 2020
Wearing a face mask is recommended by health experts on public transport, in areas where community transmission of COVID-19 is high or whenever physical distancing is not possible.
Carers NSW is hosting a free Zoom workshop Caring through Crisis: COVID-19 on Tuesday 8 December 2020 from 10.00am-11.30am. Workshops are interactive providing an opportunity for carers to connect, discuss and share strategies around a number of focus areas. You can register for the session here.
Carers NSW has developed a new Caring thorough Crisis: COVID-19 handbook which will be provided to workshop participants. The Caring thorough Crisis: COVID-19 handbook can also be downloaded as a stand-alone resource. For more information please email email@example.com or call 02 9280 4744.
Parliament has passed the Legislation Amendment (Coronavirus and Other Measures) Bill 2020, which will enable approximately 5.1 million Australians, including those receiving the carer payment, Disability Support Pension and the Age Pension, to receive two separate $250 Economic Support Payments with the first to be paid progressively from 30 November 2020 and the second from 1 March 2021.
Minister for Social Services, Anne Ruston confirmed the coronavirus supplement will be extended beyond December 2020 until 31 March 2021. The rate of supplement will be reduced to $150.00 over that 3 month period. Eligibility criteria will be expanded to cover people who are sole traders, people who are self-employed, those that have been stood down but remain connected to their workplace, people who are in isolation and people who care for somebody in isolation.
A recent report by the Tenants Union on landlord/tenant relationships during COVID-19 has found while some tenants were able to temporarily cope due to the JobKeeper and JobSeeker financial support packages provided by the government, many had still requested financial assistance from their landlords.
A new report analyses the circumstances of Australian renters during the initial phase of the COVID-19 lockdowns. Almost 40% of Australian tenant households surveyed for the report could not afford essentials such as bills, clothing, transport and food, after paying rent, because their incomes had reduced significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A recent report from Carers UK's, Caring Behind Closed Doors: 6 months on looks at the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on over 5,900 carers current and former carers. The key findings from the report show:
- 4 in 5 unpaid carers (81%) are currently providing more care than before lockdown
- More than three quarters (78%) of carers reported that the needs of the person they care for have increased recently.
- Most carers (64%) have not been able to take any breaks at all in the last six months
- More than half (58%) of carers have seen their physical health impacted by caring through the pandemic, while 64% said their mental health has worsened.
An organisation called Gayaa Dhuwi has developed a number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander specific resources on managing the challenges of COVID-19, which are available at https://www.gayaadhuwi.org.au/
Recent Medicare data showed a 15% increase in Medicare-subsidised mental health services since 16 March, with 7.4 million services provided. The Federal Government announced it would double the Medicare-subsidised mental health sessions for Australians from 10 to 20 sessions. To access these sessions, see your GP to get a referral and a Mental Health Treatment Plan (MHTP).
National Cabinet has commissioned a new Mental Health National Cabinet Reform Committee which will deliver a new National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Agreement by November 2021. The Committee will oversee and provide advice to National Cabinet on the implementation of the National Mental Health and Wellbeing Pandemic Response Plan which guides jurisdictions’ responses to COVID-19. This work builds on all jurisdictions’ efforts to scale resources and investment to support Australians’ mental health and prevent suicide during the COVID-19 outbreak.
The COVID-19 trauma and grief support line (1800 222 200) connects individuals immediately to a counsellor, psychologist or social worker who will listen and respond appropriately to what the individual needs and may provide information, referrals or counselling with a bereavement practitioner via telehealth or telephone. While current services are focusing on COVID-19 related grief and bereavement – those who are experiencing prolonged grief and bereavement or have experienced an exacerbation of their grief or bereavement due to COVID-19 are also encouraged to access support through this line.
Specific information for carers of older people
- Have in the last 14 days been in a location of interest in New Zealand
- On or after 7 November 2020 have been in a contact tracing location in South Australia
As restrictions are easing at different rates in NSW, it is recommended older Australians consider their own risk factors, along with the number of COVID-19 cases in their area, and assess what activities are important to them and how much risk those activities carry.
The Federal Government has committed an additional $2.5 million investment to extend and expand the Older Persons COVID-19 Support Line on 1800 171 866 until 30 June 2021.
The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission has a range of translated resources available to assist aged care providers, the aged care workforce and aged care recipients. The video How to stay safe from COVID-19 is available in 15 different languages. The poster What to expect during a COVID-19 outbreak is also available in 15 languages.
At the recent National Cabinet Meeting, all states and territories provided assurances that their Aged Care Emergency Response Centres can be stood up within 48 hours. The Victorian Aged Care Response Centre has supplied to all jurisdictions its extensive suite of resources for use or adaption as required.
The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission continues its program of infection control site visits to residential aged care facilities in all jurisdictions to monitor and assess aged care preparedness. The Commission is distributing summary reports of its spot check visits to each jurisdiction to enable targeted focus on areas for improvement.
Specific information for carers of people with disabilities
NSW Health has released their updated guidance to residential disability care facilities and in home services, noting two new additional groups should be excluded from accessing facilities or providing services, including those who:
- Have in the last 14 days been in a location of interest in New Zealand
- On or after 7 November 2020 have been in a contact tracing location in South Australia.
There are seven new short video interviews about COVID-19 available on the NSW Health website featuring Ella Darling from the Council for Intellectual Disability (CID) interviews Dr Jan Fizzell, Senior Medical Advisor with NSW Health. The new videos are available here and the topics covered are:
- Who can catch COVID-19?
- If I’m not feeling well should I get tested for COVID-19?
- If I have COVID-19 what are the rules?
- Dating and hanging out with friends during COVID-19
- Can a family member visit me if I need to go to hospital?
- How is NSW Health protecting people?
- How can we take care of our mental health?
The NDIS Quality and Safeguard Commission has developed a fact sheet with advice from the Australian Government Department of Health, ‘Coronavirus (COVID-19): Managing behaviours of concern and new or increased restrictive practices during COVID-19 isolation’, which provides guidance on:
- preventing the escalation of behaviours of concern and the use of restrictive practices
- using psychotropic medications to manage behaviours of concern during COVID-19 isolation.
The Summer Foundation has released new information on PPE for people with disability, workers and families: https://www.summerfoundation.org.au/ppe-info-covid-19
A PPE supplies portal provides information about PPE for industry and the community in NSW-https://buy.nsw.gov.au/news/2020/ppe-supplies-portal-for-industry-and-the-community
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.