Saturday 14 August 2021
Good evening all,
Following today’s NSW Government announcement, the whole of NSW will be under a seven-day lockdown (stay-at-home) order, commencing from 5pm Saturday 14 August 2021.
In response to this urgent and escalating situation, I would like everyone within our Mercy Connect family to be aware of the additional steps now being actioned:
Day Program and Accommodation Services:
- All Mercy Connect Day Programs, across all sites, will be closed from Monday 16 August 2021.
- By Sunday evening (15 August 2021), all Community Inclusion staff who are rostered to work on Monday (16 August 2021) will receive written or verbal notification of where they will be working during the coming week.
- It is likely that all Day Program staff will work a 10am-3pm shift from a shared / group home, instead of their usual place of work.
- There will be no change of location for those who currently work in accommodation sites, and their shifts will continue as normal; this situation will be monitored and is subject to change.
- Mercy Connect owned / managed homes will be closed to the public for the duration of the seven-day lockdown period.
- This includes, but is not limited to, family members / carers, external contractors and suppliers. Exceptions to this directive will be at the sole discretion of the CEO Office and Executive Leader – Clinical Services.
- Participants will not be permitted to attend any external Day Program facilities / activities during this time, with Day Program activities only to be offered within the Mercy Connect owned / operated home.
- Participants of shared (group) homes may individually travel outside (with only one Mercy Connect staff member), whilst maintaining social distancing practices / wearing a mask (unless a mask exemption applies), only for the following ‘essential’ reasons shopping for essential items, medical care, and outdoor exercise.
- Individual participants living in single accommodation may travel outside (with only one Mercy Connect staff member or one participant’s family member), whilst maintaining social distancing practices / wearing a mask (unless a mask exemption applies), only for the following ‘essential’ reasons shopping for essential items, medical care, and outdoor exercise.
- A communication will be sent out to families and guardians this evening to let them know of these directives.
- We will also be seeking input from families / guardians on the best way to maintain contact with participants during this time.
Corporate and Central West Offices:
- Both Albury (St John’s / Thurgoona) and Orange (Illamatta Way) offices will now be closed to the public. This includes, but is not limited to, participants, family members / carers, external contractors and suppliers. Appropriate signage will be placed on all access points informing visitors of this. Exceptions to this directive will be at the sole discretion of the CEO Office.
- Albury and Orange office-based staff, by agreement with their relevant Executive Leader, may choose to either:
- Work remotely outside of the office environment:
- Staff are to use either their allocated ICT equipment (e.g. laptop, Wi-Fi dongles or other loaned ICT equipment) in line with the Mercy Connect ‘Working from Home’ Policy.
- Continue working within the office environment.
- Social distancing practices must be complied with and face masks must be worn at all times.
- No face-to-face meetings of more than two people at a time.
- No communal eating within the kitchen areas or other locations onsite.
- Managers will confirm with teams how a ‘rotating’ approach may work, to ensure continuity of critical business functions i.e. one staff member in office, one staff member working remotely, and vice versa.
- Office locations / desk placement may change during this time to reduce the close proximity of staff.
- If staff are unable to work effectively from home (and wish to be at home, either from self-isolation or sickness), then they are able to take annual leave / sick leave / carers leave / leave without pay, depending on their circumstances (please refer to People and Culture team if further clarification required).
- Any Mercy Connect staff aged over 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.
Please note, these decisions have not been taken lightly, with participant and staff health and safety of paramount concern at this time.
Staff are kindly reminded not to discuss health information about specific participants, staff or situations (outside of their normal working duties / teams). It is vital that staff alerts and critical information is strictly controlled and shared by the CEO Office.
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.
We continue to review and update our Infection Control Policy and procedures, in line with ongoing governmental health notifications, and will ensure that our staff have access to suitable personal protective equipment (PPE).
If any additional support is needed during this time, please contact your Team Leader / Manager, or Mercy Connect’s confidential and free counselling service – AccessEAP on 1800 81 87 28.
Whilst this remains a challenging time for our participants and staff, which will no doubt be causing varying levels of anxiety and stress, I know that each of us will continue to actively live the values of Mercy Connect.
Now is the time to openly demonstrate to our communities what Mercy Connect stands for, as we continue to support people in need to live fulfilled lives.
Together we grow.
Chief Executive Officer