Coronavirus Update

 

Monday 31 March 2020

Good afternoon all,

On behalf of our Board, Executive and Management Teams, I would like to thank everyone for their hard work, commitment and unwavering support of our participants, and each other, during these challenging times. I am continuing to hear wonderful anecdotes and stories of our staff and teams going ‘above and beyond’ for which I am greatly appreciative.

In response to further government restrictions being put in place, I would like everyone within our Mercy Connect family to be aware of the following directions, and safety advice.

1) Restrictions on public gatherings have now been reduced to two people, outside of family groups or groups that live in the one household. This applies to all our individual and group homes:
a) Individual participants of shared housing (group homes) may
travel outside with other participants from the same house, whilst
maintaining social distancing practices:
i. If multiple participants within shared house settings are with
others outside their home, they are only to gather with one
other person, which must be a Mercy Connect staff member.
ii. If individual shared housing participants are with others
outside their home, they are only to gather with one other
person, which may be one Mercy Connect staff member or
one participant’s family member.
b) Individual participants living in single accommodation must only
travel with one other person, whilst maintaining social distancing practices.
i. If the individual is with others outside their home, they are only
to gather with one other person, which may be a Mercy Connect
staff member or one of the participant’s family member.

2) All Mercy Connect staff who are over the age of 70 / have a diagnosed medical condition / immunodeficiency which puts them at a greater risk of any respiratory infections should consider going into isolation for their own safety. Please discuss this with your Team Leader / Manager who will then seek advice from People and Culture as to which leave provision options are available at the time.

3) Any Mercy Connect staff required to wear a facial mask, as part of PPE (in line with WHS requirements), must ensure their facial hair is able to fit completely within the mask when worn. The presence of lengthy facial hair compromises the ability to protect any individual through a mask, potentially exposing both the wearer and the recipient to unwanted infection
a) Those staff who have a strong cultural or religious reason for a
beard (beyond the length of a face mask) should consult with
People and Culture.

4) As at 30 March 2020, COVID-19 testing is recommended by NSW Health for a person with fever (greater than or equal to 38°C) or history of fever (e.g. night sweats, chills) or acute respiratory infection (e.g. cough, shortness of breath, sore throat) who meets one or more of the following criteria:
a) Close contact in the 14 days prior to illness onset with a confirmed case.
b) International travel in the 14 days prior to illness onset.
c) A cruise ship passenger or crew member who has travelled in the
14 days prior to illness onset.
d) A healthcare worker.
e) An aged care or other residential care worker.
f) In a geographically localised area with elevated risk of community
transmission.

5) As at 30 March 2020 testing is also recommended by NSW Health for a person with fever (great than or equal to 38°C) or history of fever (e.g. night sweats, chills) or acute respiratory infection (e.g. cough, shortness of breath, sore throat) in the following settings where there are two or more cases of illness clinically consistent with COVID-19:
a) Aged care and other residential care facilities.
b) Military operational settings.
c) Boarding schools.
d) Correctional facilities.
e) Detention Centres.
f) Aboriginal rural and remote communities, in consultation with the
local Public Health Unit.
g) Settings where COVID-19 outbreaks have occurred, in consultation with
the local Public Health Unit.

6) As our participants (living in shared homes) would likely be classed within the ‘residential care facilities’ definition, if a participant receives treatment by the NSW Ambulance (or similar), it is likely they will be tested for COVID-19. This does not mean that the unwell / tested participants has COVID-19; therefore, participant isolation and wider staff notification is not required until such times as a participant is formally diagnosed with COVID-19.
a) Recently, there have been a number of instances where staff
have contacted other staff / external agencies providing incorrect
information about COVID-19 causing undue concern and stress.
b) Please be assured that relevant staff will be contacted, and
advised accordingly, by management if confirmation is received
that a participant does actually have COVID-19.

7) COVID-19 safety materials (poster / booklet) have been developed by Gavin Rowell (Learning and Development Manager) for staff and participant awareness. These materials are in the process of being distributed to all Team Leaders. Each staff member arriving on shift will have to sign-off to collect their information bundle, where they will also receive a voucher for Aromas Café at Thurgoona Plaza.
a) ‘Taking care of yourself and participants’ – Staff Booklet.
b) ‘Hello my name is Coronavirus’ – Participant Booklet.
c) Infection Control PPE Poster.

As we navigate through these unprecedented events, I remain grateful that everyone is doing the best they can. It is essential that we accept that change, now and into the future, is inevitable. Any of the recent changes made are to ensure we all staff, and the participants we serve, are as safe as possible during this pandemic.

One important area I would like also to draw attention to is that of our Rostering Team, who are working hard as they possibly can under very difficult circumstances. I would be very disappointed to note any further instances of staff expressing discontent or frustration directly at them; this must not happen.

Please note they are, like everyone, working very hard to ensure that our staffing allocations continue to meet the needs of our organisation, at the direction of our Executive and Management Teams. If any staff are dissatisfied with their rostering allocations (or similar) they are to directly contact either Felicity Lawes, Darrin Richards, Jeff EdmondsonCarol Fee or Mark Peacock (Orange and Narrabri); not the rostering team.

As always, if any staff do find that they need further support, please be reminded that our dedicated Employee Assistance Program is available to you and your family members.

Together we grow.

Trent Dean
Chief Executive Officer