Coronavirus Update


Tuesday 2 June 2020

Good morning all,

Please find the following information providing staff with an update on the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pandemic Restrictions:
As NSW / Victoria commence easing pandemic restrictions, Mercy Connect staff may be asked (or in fact even be asking themselves) why we have not advanced relaxation of our own restrictions in a similar way?

For your reference, the NSW Government has recommended additional precautions for those in residential care and for those who are classed as vulnerable.

Importantly, people living with disability have been classified as part of this vulnerable group.

Therefore, we believe that we need to progress slowly and carefully in easing the restrictions that are now in place by following the recommendations of the Commonwealth and State governments and their health experts to minimise the risk to the participants we support.

It is recommended that in order to protect yourself and others (our participants) you should:

  • avoid unnecessary travel.
  • avoid close contact with anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms.
  • consider having your groceries and medications delivered to your home.
  • clean and disinfect surfaces regularly.
  • frequently wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • cover your nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing with a tissue or a flexed elbow.

Precautions if you are living in a residential care facility (Our Group homes and Communities):

  • limit visits to short duration (e.g. Shopping centres).
  • no large group visits or gatherings, including social activities or entertainment (including school groups of any size).
  • visits should be conducted in the outdoors, or in a specific designated area, rather than in communal areas.
  • all visitors must practice physical distancing where possible, including maintaining a distance of 1.5 metres.

To support our staff and participants, you will find a newly developed poster (check your work / personal email for the poster) which provides a clear, visual / written list of ‘what’ is currently allowed, and not allowed.

Further to my COVID-19 communication last week, please note that, from 29 June 2020 (Accommodation – Phase 2), DSW team meetings may recommence, with small groups and social distancing maintained, in our St John’s Chapel. For any clarification of this direction, please contact Felicity Lawes, Executive Leader – Operations ([email protected]).

Official Community Visitors (OCV):
OCV regularly visit Mercy Connect group homes, Their role is to promote the rights of the people with disabilities and raise any issues of concern they may identify with the service that is being provided.

Over the past two months, OCVs have been undertaking mainly ‘virtual visits’ through phone calls to group homes.

From Friday 5 June 2020, the OCV will again visit group homes in person.

In order to minimise risk to participants, they will be following a number of precautions. These include:

  • not visiting if they are unwell.
  • checking with the home whether anyone in the residence is unwell or has been in contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19.
  • using hand sanitiser on entering and exiting the home.
  • practising social distancing during the visit.
  • if 1:1 time with a participant is required, attempting to do this outside where there can be a greater distance between people, and
  • where possible, only visiting one site each day to minimise cross contamination.

It is vital that we support this important program while continuing to keep participants safe by ensuring precautions outlined are implemented.

Please be aware that JobKeeper nomination forms (check your work / personal emails for the form) are still open, and can be submitted until 30 September 2020.

Thank you to those who have already sent in their nomination forms.

Whilst the closing date for funding to be applied from the beginning of the scheme was 31 May 2020, nominations can still be received up to 30 September 2020, for as long as the JobKeeper scheme is offered by the Government.

As previously identified, there are a number of eligible staff who have not yet nominated for JobKeeper and who benefit by receiving the top-up payment and Mercy Connect is eager to support these employees.

As mentioned previously, while the impacts of COVID-19 on Mercy Connect may not be obvious to some, a reduction of funding across SILS and Day Programs, which is why Mercy Connect is eligible for the JobKeeper Scheme.

The wage subsidy program was introduced to support employees and businesses affected by Coronavrius to cover the cost of their employees’ wages, so that more employees can retain their job and continue to earn income.

It will enable Mercy Connect and employees to receive funding and to lay foundations for business continuity and a stronger economic recovery once the Coronavirus crisis passes.

Your support to Mercy Connect and yourself as an employee would be greatly appreciated.

Completed forms can be emailed to Rochelle Taylor, Payroll Officer ([email protected]).

Together we grow.

Trent Dean
Chief Executive Officer