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Carers ACT response to Coronavirus outbreak

 


Information published Thursday 26th of March 2020

CEO Message

Dear Carers

These are extremely stressful, anxious and concerning times we find ourselves in. It is so difficult to maintain calm when it feels like the fabric of what you know is in tatters. As we face the first of this type of threat in our generation it is difficult to know what to do and what is going to happen next. As carers supporting people you love who are particularly vulnerable your space is particularly difficult at this time.

I would like you to know that you are not alone in facing this crisis. We will continue to be here with you to lend an ear, provide support and connection and assist where this is possible. Whilst we need to keep physical distance we can still connect socially and help maintain wellbeing. Carers ACT is a family and we are in this with you.

The health and wellbeing of carers and our staff is first and foremost in my mind and the mind of the Board of Carers ACT. Over the past 72 hours as the information from health specialists and the government has evolved, we have been deliberating on the impact for carers and our programs. We have made the heartbreaking decisions at this point to change the way we deliver supports through our Cottage and Hub programs.

From today we will no longer be operating the Cottage as a group-based program for people who are frail aged. Instead we will be offering carers and the participants of the Cottage with one on one support in-home or in safe ways within the community (going for a walk for example).

From today we will also no longer be operating the Hub as a group-based program for people who are living with intellectual disabilities. Instead we will be offering participants and their carers with one on one supports and we will be using technology to enable the participants to continue to connect with each other.

We have also made the decision to close the office building at Holt. From today all of our staff are working from home. The building will not be open to carers or members of the public.

We are continuing to provide support to carers over the phone, email or online. We are continuing to book respite and in-home service supports and provide information and assistance. We are continuing to help you work through the issues and access counselling.

We are looking at a range of ways to provide you with ways to overcome the social isolation you may be experiencing and ways for you to access contact with other carers, education and information.  As a starting point we:

We will be placing more and more information on our website and through social media and emails daily. We are searching for links for ways to distract and ways to support. My favourite today and I am watching as I write this is the live webcam of penguins at San Diego Zoo (https://zoo.sandiegozoo.org/cams/penguin-cam)

If you need assistance accessing services, information or technology please let us know.

I encourage you all to keep an eye on our webpage, social media and emails for more updates and information. I encourage you to reach out and make contact with us, even if it is just to say hello. I encourage you to reach out to each other and say hi. You are not alone, I am not alone, we are not alone.

Please take care of yourselves and your family

Lisa Kelly

CEO

 


Information published Thursday 19th of March 2020

Carers ACT would like to assure our clients that we have your safety and well-being at the centre of our practice at all times. In addition to our already high-standard of hygiene practice, we have introduced extraordinary measures at our Head Office, Deakin Cottage and The Hub, to ensure vigilance during this uncertain period.  Some of the new measures we have introduced include:

Should you cancel in-home services?

We are working with our brokered service providers to ensure that they are following Department of Health recommendations around hygiene and working with vulnerable people and we are keeping abreast of any updated recommendations. Our client’s safety is of paramount importance to us and our brokered service providers. We believe that at present, with good hygiene practises in place; it is fine for in-home services to continue. However, it is your choice whether you continue to receive services in your home.
It is important that you ask anyone coming into your home to ensure that they wash or sanitise their hands on arrival.
You should also check with the worker that they do not have any cold or flu-like symptoms. If they do have symptoms, please ask if they have a medical clearance to work. If they do not, please ask them to leave and contact us immediately to advise us of the situation and request a replacement worker.

What is happening with our Cottage and Hub services?

We are following Department of Health recommendations around the operation of these programs and have contacted carers personally by phone or email to explain what we are doing.
The services are still operating at present. However, a number of clients have chosen not to continue attending at this time. We are limiting the numbers attending in an effort to maintain social distancing and a hygienic environment. We are also restricting access to visitors and have arranged for drop-off and pick-up to occur at the entry of the Cottage and Hub.
Importantly, we ask all people to wash or sanitise their hands on arrival, and we ensure that all present wash their hands frequently throughout the day. We also ensure that we practise good coughing & sneezing hygiene.
We check that our workers do not have any cold or flu-like symptoms before they are permitted to work with the clients.
We have cancelled social outings to limit the risk of possible exposure. Hub clients are spending a lot of their time outdoors enjoying the parklands that surround our building.

What is happening with our Carer Group Activities?

We are following recommendations around social distancing, and this has meant that we have cancelled most of our group activities. We are endeavouring to provide some group activities using technology solutions.

What is happening with Counselling?

We are following recommendations around social distancing, and this has meant that we are now only offering counselling sessions over the phone or using Skype.

What is happening with Support Coordination?

The number of face-to-face meetings with NDIS participants is being reduced in line with the Australian Government’s advice in the COVID-19 national health response plan.
Participants, families and carers can request alternatives to face-to-face meetings if participants are concerned about their exposure.
Both scheduled plan reviews and first plan meetings can be completed over the phone, if:

What is happening with Advocacy?

Generally, our advocacy support will be limited to phone-based service. We can arrange teleconference meetings with multiple attendees. If required, we will attend in-person crisis meetings. However, we will seek confirmation that all attendees do not have flu-like symptoms or have come into contact with anyone with coronavirus COVID-19 before attending.

How can you help prevent the spread of Coronavirus COVID-19?

Practising good hand and sneeze/cough hygiene and keeping your distance from others is the best defence against most viruses. You should:

Lifeline has the following recommendations for managing your health and wellbeing during coronavirus COVID-19

The outbreak of the coronavirus COVID-19 has impacted people in varying ways on an international scale. It is understandable that during times like this, people may be feeling afraid, worried, anxious and overwhelmed by the constantly changing alerts and media coverage regarding the spread of the virus.

While it is important to stay informed, the following are some mental health and well being tips and strategies to continue looking after ourselves and each other during these difficult times.

Manage your exposure to media coverage as this can increase feelings of fear and anxiety.  Be mindful of sources of information and ensure you are accessing good quality and accurate information. We have provided some links below.

Follow a “calm yet cautious” approach – do your best to remain calm and be mindful not to contribute to the widespread panic that can hinder efforts to positively manage the outbreak. Ensure you are following directives issued by the Government, medical advice and observe good hygiene habits.

Show compassion and kindness to one another – these times of fear, isolation (both physical and social) and uncertainty are when it is most important that we strengthen our sense of community by connecting with and supporting each other. Remind ourselves that we can manage this much better together in solidarity, and that COVID-19 doesn’t discriminate – it can affect anyone regardless of age, gender, nationality or ethnicity.

Actively manage your well-being by maintaining routines where possible, connect with family and friends (even if not in person), staying physically active, eating nutritious foods and seeking additional support by contacting Lifeline or further professional support as required.

Strategies to cope with social distancing, self-isolation or quarantine
Going into a period of social distancing, self-isolation or quarantine may feel daunting or overwhelming, and can contribute to feelings of helplessness and fear. In addition to the above, we encourage the following;

Staying connected through this period

Research after the SARS pandemic in Hong Kong in 2008, provides evidence of the significance of connection through epidemics. It found that residents in Hong Kong experienced increased social connectedness, which offset the negative mental health impacts of the pandemic.
As connection is so important during this time, here are some tips on staying connected to others. Remember – we are all in this together.
If there is someone you think may struggle through social isolation, it is important to reach out to them and let them know you care:

We encourage people to get creative with how they interact; here are some ways to stay connected if self-isolating:

The Lifeline telephone, text and webchat services will continue as normal throughout this period. To contact Lifeline call 13 11 14.

More information

While coronavirus is of concern, it is important to remember that most people displaying symptoms such as cough, sore throat or tiredness are most likely to have a cold or other respiratory illness—not coronavirus.
For the latest advice, information and resources, go to www.health.gov.au
Call the National Coronavirus Help Line on 1800 020 080. It operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you require translating or interpreting services, call 131 450.
If you have concerns about your health, speak to a doctor.

Carers ACT would like to remind all our carers of the importance of looking after your mental health during these difficult times.
For immediate access to a session to reduce stress and contain emotions please call Lifeline or Beyond Blue through the phone numbers below:

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