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 4 September 2020
Wearing a face mask is now recommended by health experts in areas where community transmission of COVID-19 is high or whenever physical distancing is not possible.
This fact sheet, Face Masks: how they protect you and when to use them explains the different types of face masks, what kind of protection they give the wearer, and who should use them.
The Australian Government has temporarily expanded eligibility for income support payments – including JobSeeker Payment.
In addition, the Coronavirus Supplement of $550 per fortnight is available until 24 September 2020. Beyond this date, the Coronavirus Supplement will be available at $250 per fortnight until 31 December 2020.
The JobKeeper payment as initially announced in July 2020 will be extended by 6 months to 28 March 2021. More information on the Job Keeper payments is available here.
Anglicare Australia’s Rental Affordability Update highlights the degree of difficulty many older Australians and people with disability are having in paying their rent. It also demonstrates how the pandemic has exacerbated many financial issues those receiving the Disability Support Pension or age pension experience with data showing that:
- An age pensioner can afford 0.8% of rental listings across Australia
- Disability support pensioner can afford 0.3% of rental listings across Australia
It is noted the Carer Payment is paid at the same level as the above pensions.
Feelings of anxiety and depression because of the COVID-19 pandemic are being shared across the country, according to data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). The Household Impacts of COVID-19 Survey was conducted in mid-August, at a time when daily new cases of coronavirus in Victoria led to strong restrictions in the State and extra caution across Australia.
The survey found 46 percent of Australians reported feeling nervous and that everything was an effort (41 percent) at least some of the time in the previous four weeks.
The Australian National University Centre for Social Research and Methods COVID-19 impact monitoring program took the views of over 3,000 people during August. The survey found a spike in anxiety and worry among Australians everywhere following Victoria's second-wave outbreak with more than three-in-five Australians (62.6 percent) feeling anxious or worried about the coronavirus - an increase from 57.3 percent in May. However, the survey also shows fewer Australians are following social distancing measures than before.
Specific information for carers of older people
The Australian Government will provide an additional $563.3 million to extend support for the aged care sector’s response to COVID-19. The funding is intended to support enhanced infection control capability, including through an on-site clinical lead. Funding may also be used to for increased staffing costs, communications with families and managing visitation arrangements.
Providers will be required to report how these funds were used for additional COVID-19 related costs through strict requirements in providers’ end of financial year returns. Providers will receive around $975 per resident in major metropolitan areas and around $1,435 per resident in all other areas and will be provided through Services Australia by early October.
NSW Health has provided updated advice for Residential Aged Care Facilities and Home Care Providers regarding the use of masks and visitor restrictions. Following recent cases in Sydney, there is a request for residential aged care facilities in metropolitan Sydney, Nepean Blue Mountains and Central Coast regions to implement visitor restrictions for the next two weeks. In addition, staff who work or live in these areas must wear face masks whilst at work. This temporary requirement will be reviewed in two weeks.
The NSW Chief Health Office has provided updated advice for Residential Aged Care Providers and Home Care Providers. Some updates include:
- Removal of Newcastle (LGA) from the list of impacted LGAs
- All visitors and staff to residential aged care facilities along the NSW border with QLD from Tweed Heads through to Woodenbong must wear a surgical mask while in the facility.
The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission has produced advice around nutrition during COVID-19. Keeping aged care consumers engaged and healthy is an ongoing priority for all aged care providers, and has never been more important than it is now, during the pandemic.
The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission is also undertaking assessments with residential aged care services through unannounced site visits to services. The focus of the site visits are to observe the service infection control defences to prevent transmission and to recognise and respond to symptoms of COVID-19. The Commission will not undertake these infection control site visits with services that have known positive cases of COVID-19.
The Health Services Union (HSU) is calling for "real change" in aged care, including:
- Immediate and significant pay rise for all employees & commitment to increases over the long term
- Two weeks paid pandemic leave for all workers
- Proper infection control training and Personal Protective Equipment
- Secure employment as a default, supported by finding arrangements that limit the use of exploitative arrangements
- Ongoing training and Professional Development which links to clear career progression and supports retention of a skilled workforce
- Adequate staffing and skill mix to deliver holistic care.
Specific information for carers of people with disabilities
Carers and people with disability who have experienced changes due to COVID-19 and need support in a language other than English can call the Disability Information Helpline on 1800 643 787 and ask for an interpreter, or call Translating and Interpreting Services on 131 450 and ask for the Disability Information Helpline on 1800 643 787. Information about the Disability Information Helpline is also available in 63 languages. Visit http://www.dss.gov.au/disabilityhelp for more information.
People with Disability Australia has published a new series of blogs about living with a disability during COVID-19.
Down Syndrome Australia is conducting a survey on how COVID-19 has impacted people with Down Syndrome and their families. There is a full survey and an Easy Read version.
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.