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 23 October 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.
The Australian Government has released the Federal Budget for 2020-21. Carers in receipt of the Carer Payment, Disability Support Pension and Age Pension will receive another $500 stimulus payment between December 2020 and March 2021 in two $250 instalments.
The Federal Government will commit $74 billion to the JobMaker plan, identified as a key element in the Government’s Economic Recovery Plan. Through the JobMaker Plan, businesses will be paid a hiring credit for up to 12 months to encourage the employment of people on JobSeeker aged between 16-35 years old. The hiring credit will be paid at the rate of $200 per week for employees under 30, and $100 per week for employees aged between 30-35.
$25.2 million will be committed to amending workforce participation requirements, making it easier for young people on Youth Allowance or ABSTUDY to prove independence.
Over the next four years, the Australian Government will invest $630.4 million in the national headspace network, increasing it from 124 services to 153 services nationally by 2022.
The Australian Government is providing an additional $5 million in Food Relief funding to give a boost to the sector to continue delivering services throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
Victim-survivors of domestic and family violence and those who have been impacted by COVID-19 will benefit from new funding to the community legal assistance sector. Attorney General and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence Mark Speakman announced the allocation of $5.43 million in Commonwealth funding to community legal centres delivering frontline services to people experiencing disadvantage and discrimination.
During for National Carers Week, Westpac’s The Davidson Institute published an article highlighting the financial issues carers face, touching on an issue that Carers NSW has found to be particularly critical for carers during COVID-19.
CarerHelp, a new website to support people caring for someone at the end of life, has a number of COVID-19 specific resources for carers.
The Australian Government has strengthened a number of digital and telehealth support services available to assist people with mental health issues during COVID-19. These resources include support for vulnerable people and those with severe and complex needs. This factsheet outlines a number of available supports for mental health during COVID-19.
Nationally, since 16 March, there has been a 15% increase in the number of Medicare subsidised mental health services delivered (7.4 million services provided and $819 million paid in benefits)
Anyone worried about their mental health, loneliness, finances, family, or other circumstances can contact the Beyond Blue Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service for free advice and counselling on 1800 512 348 or online.
Specific information for carers of older people
The Department of Health is continuing to publish a weekly national data snapshot of COVID-19 outbreaks in residential aged care facilities across the country. The latest data snapshot, shows that of the 217 residential aged care facilities that have had a case(s) of COVID-19, 96 facilities or 44 per cent have a single case of COVID-19.
An additional $746.3 million was announced at the 2020-21 Federal Budget to support the aged care sector’s response to COVID-19. A Budget fact sheet on the Aged Care COVID-19 pandemic response can be found here.
A $217.6 million COVID-19 supplement payment is being made available by the government to assist residential aged care providers with the additional costs of preparing for and responding to COVID-19 from October 2020. This follows the first payment of the COVID-19 supplement in June 2020. This funding is made available to providers to assist with the additional costs of preparing for and responding to COVID-19, including costs associated with facilitating and managing visitation arrangements for residents, infection prevention and control (IPC) and additional staff costs.
The Australian Government is investing $12.4 million in a Grief and Trauma Response Package to ensure support is available for those affected by COVID-19 across the aged care sector. The package will:
- provide direct support to aged care residents and their families through improved advocacy assistance, grief and bereavement counselling and for aged care residents, home care recipients and their families.
- ensure aged care staff have access to training in trauma-informed care, including advice on self-care, and post-COVID-19 support for aged care residents living with dementia and those experiencing adverse physical, social and psychological impacts.
There are three organisations charged with delivery of the Grief and Trauma Response Package:
- The Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement will provide specialist information and support to residential aged care and home care recipients and their families who have been affected by COVID-19.
- Phoenix Australia – Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health will deliver a sector-wide trauma-informed care package that provides trauma training and resources for aged care residents, their families and aged care staff, including through the establishment of a dedicated website.
- Dementia Support Australia will implement a proactive engagement program to help alleviate the impacts of lockdown on aged care residents living with dementia.
The Six Steps to Stop the Spread information sheet has been translated and is now available in 63 languages other than English. The translations are available for:
Dementia Australia has released four Help Sheets on COVID-19 which have now been translated into 38 languages:
- Tips for people living with dementia – outlines the coronavirus COVID-19 symptoms, hygiene tips, the importance of having a good support network, ideas to remain active and engaged while in self-isolation, and where to go for help
- Tips for carers, families and friends of people living with dementia – outlines the coronavirus COVID-19 symptoms, hygiene tips, helpful tips for primary carers, as well as for family, friends or neighbours, ideas for remaining active and engaged while in self-isolation, and where to go for help
- Tips for residential care providers – outlines the impacts coronavirus COVID-19 may have on residents, tips on alternative activities and how to support continued engagement with families and carers
- Tips for home care providers – outlines the impacts coronavirus COVID-19 may have on a person living with dementia, tips to reduce heightened anxiety and where to go for help
Specific information for carers of people with disabilities
The National Disability Insurance Agency will be extending the following support measures due to the continuing risk of COVID-19 in the Australian community until February 2021:
- ongoing increased access to support coordination
- low-cost assistive technology
- one-off deep cleaning for support worker related COVID-19 diagnosis
- personal protective equipment (PPE) for certain participants living in restricted areas
- PPE for certain providers delivering support in restricted areas
- cleaning services and additional self-isolation and COVID-19 diagnosis supports in supported independent living arrangements.
The NDIA will not be extending the priority home delivery service for NDIS participants. Participants with an active code can continue to use the service. New codes will no longer be issued.
In states most affected by COVID-19 outbreaks, funding of personal protective equipment (PPE) for participants (up to $50 a week) and workers will also continue, with the ability to claim PPE in Victoria until at least the end of November and in NSW until the end of October.
New research published by the CSIRO has found that COVID-19 can remain infectious for significantly longer time periods than was previously considered possible - up to 30 days in some instances, placing people who utilise Assistive Technology at greater risk. Wheelchair users touch their wheels more than 1000 times per day - exposing them to multiple germs and pathogens and making them some of the most vulnerable people during the pandemic. In addition to this, many people with a disability have reduced immunity and often struggle to spatially distance if they require support to assist with daily living.
NSW Health has released updated advice for residential disability services. The update contains further directions on guidelines for visitor access.
- Allow no more than two visitors per resident at a time – this does not mean only the same two people can ever visit a resident.
- Residential Disability Care facilities located outside of the areas listed above should be allowing residents to receive visitors. Allowing visits while maintaining appropriate screening and infection prevention measures will improve the health and wellbeing of your residents.
- Residents can leave their facility, including for group excursions. Residents should not visit the areas listed above and should avoid meeting with people who have visited those areas in the previous 14 days. Residents in a facility in one of the areas listed above are asked to limit their excursions to essential visits.
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.