Reminder: Client care questionnaire

HCO requires ALL Staff to complete this questionnaire and return it via email to mail@hco.net.au, by close of business Tuesday 21/04/2020.

COVID-19 Staff FAQ’s (17/04/2020)

How do I report a concern about a breach of duty of care or other issues?

HCO advises the procedures for reporting of incidents and or reporting breaches in the code of conduct or other inappropriate actions or behaviour, have not changed.

  • Incident reports can be found via the short cuts on HCO computer desktops and or via request from your Team Leaders, Coordinator or Manager
  • If you feel the incident or issue needs immediate action and or escalation, in the first instance, contact Team Leaders, Coordinator or Manager. In the event that you cannot contact anyone, please contact the office, on 8398 4400 and you will be put through to another available Senior Manager
What about PPE?

Since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, there has been a worldwide shortage of PPE caused by increased global demand, redirection of critical supplies to medical stockpiles, hoarding, panic buying, misuse and impacts on supply chain networks. Since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, there has been a worldwide shortage of PPE caused by increased global demand, redirection of critical supplies to medical stockpiles, hoarding, panic buying, misuse and impacts on supply chain networks.

Governments, industry and supply chain networks around the world have been working to boost production and secure allocations for critically affected and at risk countries. Here in Australia government agencies are working hard to secure PPE with individual states implementing strategies to ensure critical staff have the personal protective equipment needed to protect them at work.

HCO has actively been ordering PPE and essential cleaning supplies since the outset of the outbreak, however due to high demand and prioritization of key items to government medical stockpiles, until recently orders have not been filled. In addition to this HCO has registered with all government stockpile agencies and while we do not have any Staff or Clients with COVID-19, we do not fit the criteria to get access to these supplies. However, should our circumstances change, HCO has been assured that we will be provided with appropriate support and adequate PPE to ensure the health safety and welfare of our Staff and Clients.

HCO has recently:

  • Secured enough PPE to provide and distribute personal PPE packs for our large group of Community Support Workers
  • Sourced hand sanitiser and face masks from local Adelaide Hills businesses
  • Commenced preparation of Emergency PPE packs for our accommodation sites, in the event we have Staff or Clients who contract COVID-19

Please contact HCO on 8398 4400 or email mail@hco.net.au with requests for supply of PPE and or cleaning products.

What is HCO doing about Client movements?

HCO’s aim is to maintain normal business continuity at this time in line with measures announced by the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission, the NDIA and in accordance with the ongoing directives, advice and guidelines of the Federal and State Governments.

HCO is constantly monitoring the Australian Government’s and regulatory bodies direction and advice and is reassessing the provision of supports and services on an ongoing basis, implementing to programs, activities, services and supports in accordance with these directives and in accordance with HCO’s risk and pandemic planning. Changes implemented across our services include:

  • Day options programs delivered in home for our accommodation Clients
  • Investigating access to on-line shopping and or delivery services
  • Minimising outings and foot traffic in homes and HCO sites in accordance with government directives, guidelines and recommendations
  • Temporarily ceasing Weekenders and Out and Abouters
  • Implementation health screening questionnaires across our HCO community to ensure the health, safety and well-being of our Staff and Clients
  • Administration Staff working from home
  • Isolation of Clients and Staff who:
    are Symptomatic or unwell
    have had potential exposure to COVID-19
    recently travelled overseas and/or returned from interstate

What is the HCO contingency plan in the event of a Client or Staff contracting COVID-19?

HCO have been working diligently on our pandemic planning, risk assessments, preparation of documentation, communications and sourcing critical PPE to ensure we are prepared in the event a Client or Staff member contracts COVID-19. Information has been provided in these FAQ’s in relation to process in the event of Staff or Clients becoming unwell with and or supporting clients with COVID-19. The underlying and consistent message is that HCO will work closely with the health department and/or relevant health professionals and act in accordance with the advice and direction to effectively and safely provide services and supports.

In addition to this HCO has developed a number of flow charts, based on different scenarios, in relation to Clients in HCO accommodation that can be used as a guideline for Staff in event a Client/s become unwell. These flow charts will be distributed by your Team Leader in the coming days.

Should I or my Client/s be notified if Staff or Clients are in isolation and or test positive to COVID-19?

HCO has an obligation and duty of care to ensure the health safety and well-being of all Staff and Clients. HCO also has an obligation and duty of care to maintain the privacy and confidentiality of all Staff and Clients. Managing these obligations and duties of care in any situation, including COVID-19 is of paramount importance as is maintaining trust and transparency with our Staff and Clients.

HCO assures Staff that any known potential exposure and or risk of COVID-19 in our HCO community has been actively and diligently actioned and monitored from the initial report through to confirmation of outcomes, noting, to date, no HCO Staff or Client has been identified as having contracted COVID-19.  Additionally, where there has been any potential exposure and or symptomatic Clients or Staff, the relevant actions, procedure and notifications have been implemented and followed up. In the event Staff or Clients have been exposed to potential risk to and or confirmed cases of COVID-19, the department of health will contact all relevant, Staff, Clients and trace contacts in consultation and cooperation with HCO.

Staff and/or Clients will not be notified if or when staff are required to self-isolate due to overseas or interstate travel mandated requirements directed by the government and or regulatory bodies or at the request of HCO due to risk factors including age and or health. These are precautionary measures ensure the health, safety and well-being of staff and the HCO community.

My hours have been reduced and or due to personal circumstances I have had to withdraw from shifts. What support can I get?

Please keep in contact with HR and rostering to discuss your roster and or any applicable leave entitlements available to you.
Please investigate the economic support packages the Australian Government has announced, for workers and households, including:

Why is there so much email communication and limited face to face communication?

HCO is committed the health, safety and well-being of our Staff, Clients and the wider community and to support and slow the spread of COVID-19, HCO is closely applying and adhering to the government directive and advice to ALL Australians regarding social distancing which includes:

  • avoid public gatherings and at risk groups like older people – with non-essential indoor and outdoor gatherings limited to 2 people
  • stay at home and only go out if it is absolutely essential
  • keep 1.5 metres away from others and 1 person per 4 square metres
  • avoid physical greetings such as handshaking, hugs and kisses
  • use tap and go instead of cash
  • travel at quiet times and avoid crowds

HCO acknowledges that face-to-face communication provides a much better platform to share information, discuss issues, ensure understanding and seek feedback, however in the current climate, HCO supports the social distancing recommendations and will continue to provide information and support though other platforms, including email, text message and the HCO website.

Team Leaders are working even more closely with rostering during this time to ensure best outcomes for Clients and with consideration to maintaining business as usual, where possible.  

Please feel free to contact your Team Leader, Coordinator or Manager via phone or email to discuss any work related issues or concerns. 

If you have any specific COVID-19 related concerns, questions or feedback, please email to covid19@hco.net.au

I am concerned about Staff not being able to wear a mask. What is the reason for HCO not providing this PPE?

Throughout this COVID-19 outbreak, HCO has consistently and diligently followed the government and regulatory directives, guidelines and advice, which includes the requirements for provision and wearing of PPE.

Further HCO and other disability service providers have been reminded of our obligation in relation to the Quality and Safeguards practice standards and code of conduct, including the human rights of the people we support, which includes assuming they are well until we know they are unwell.

HCO understand that there is conflicting information regarding COVID-19 and the wearing of masks and also understands that for some Staff, Clients and people in the community, wearing of masks makes them feel safer and more protected, however due to global shortages and limited access to this critical piece of PPE for critical workers such and doctors and nurses, HCO will continue to follow the government and regulatory directives, guidelines and advice, which stipulates that the sick person should wear the mask.

Please be assured, in the event of a Client or Staff member on shift becoming unwell, all persons involved will be supported by HCO, under the direction and advice of the health department and or appropriate health professionals, including the provision of ALL necessary and appropriate PPE.

How do we support our Clients and uphold our duty of care, whilst ensuring we are not in violation of our obligations in relation to human rights?

The COVID-19 outbreak is an unprecedented global event causing uncertainty, creating disruption and presenting many challenges in our personal and professional lives. This is true for you, your loved ones, your friends, your colleagues and the people we support. Under these circumstances it is more important than ever for HCO to maintain routines and keep our activities as normal as possible, in accordance with government and regulatory directives, guidelines and advice. Further it is essential that we demonstrate our HCO values, adhere to the quality and safeguards practice standards and uphold the human rights of our Clients.

Our Clients have the right to choose, the right to make their own decisions and the right to be treated equally. HCO’s job and the job of other service providers supporting our Clients, during this time is to provide support and clear information in a way that encourages and supports our Clients to follow the directives, guidelines and advice of government and our regulatory bodies. When our Clients are accessing other services such as work or day options, our focus must be to encourage and support good hygiene and social distancing practises.

Will HCO keep a supply of PPE at the office so that we are prepared if this happens again?

HCO is reviewing the ongoing requirements for stocks of PPE and what stock holdings we may require in the future, however the COVID-19 outbreak is an unprecedented global event for which it is somewhat impossible to plan and prepare. This is demonstrated by global shortages in not only PPE but other essential items such as food, toilet paper, cleaning products and other household items due to increased global demand, redirection of critical supplies to medical stockpiles, hoarding, panic buying, misuse and impacts on supply chain networks.

In addition to this HCO must consider, in accordance with government regulatory directives, guidelines and advice, who, when and why PPE is required to worn and what protection. Other considerations for PPE include shelf life, used by dates and storage of bulk items

COVID-19 Staff FAQ’s (27/03/2020)

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

The symptoms of COVID-19 include:

  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty breathing

The virus can cause a variety of symptoms and it can take up to 14 days for symptoms to show after a person has been infected.

The 14 day period is based upon what is currently known to be the upper time limit of the incubation period for the virus.

While  is of concern, it is important to remember that most people displaying these symptoms are likely to be suffering with a cold or other respiratory illness – not COVID-19.

What do I do if I develop symptoms?
If you develop symptoms you should:

  • Stay away from work
  • Self-isolate at your residence
  • Contact: Health Direct Hotline – 1800 022 222 (24/7) or the Helpline – 1800 020 080
  • Contact your usual doctor by telephone and inform them of your symptoms and any recent travel history or contact you may have had with someone who may have COVID-19
  • Let your Team Leader, Rostering or HR know the outcome

To minimise the spread of infection, medical centres and hospitals should not be attended in person without phoning ahead.

Should I be tested for COVID-19?

Your doctor or other medical/healthcare professionals will advise you if you should be tested.

You will only be tested if your doctor or other medical/healthcare professionals decide you meet the criteria:

  • You have returned from overseas or interstate in the past 14 days and you develop respiratory illness with or without fever
  • You have been in close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case in the past 14 days and you develop respiratory illness with or without fever
  • Close or casual contact with a person with a confirmed case of COVID-19
  • Display of the COVID-19 symptoms described earlier in this FAQ
  • Work in particular defined industries, including but not limited to, healthcare, aged care

There is no need to test people who feel well and do not meet the criteria above.

It is important to remember that many people with symptoms similar to COVID-19 will not have the virus.

What happens if I have tested positive to COVID-19?

If you contract COVID-19, the state or territory health system is the first contact point.

The health department will be in contact with you to provide you information about what you and other people in your home should do.   

The health department will be in contact with you on a regular basis while you are at risk of infection to monitor you for symptoms.

You will be required to isolate yourself in your home for 14 days or until such time the health department advises you your isolation can cease.

If you are at high risk and extremely unwell you may be required to go to hospital. The health department will provide you and your family with information specific to your situation if this is necessary.

The health department in cooperation with yourself and HCO will contact all staff and clients where contact may have occurred whilst you were working in our service.

Someone I live with is getting tested for COVID-19. Should I self-isolate and get tested as well?
If you have had close or casual contact with a person who may have COVID-19, you must:

  • Contact: Health Direct Hotline – 1800 022 222 (24/7) or the Helpline – 1800 020 080
  • Contact your usual doctor by telephone and inform them of your symptoms and any recent travel history or contact you may have had with someone who may have COVID-19
  • Let your Team Leader, Rostering or HR know the outcome

To minimise the spread of infection, medical centres and hospitals should not be attended in person without phoning ahead.

What happens if a client I support is confirmed to have COVID-19?

If a client contracts COVID-19, the state or territory health system is the first contact point.

These situations will be dealt with on a case by case basis in consultation and as directed by the health department.

Any staff, clients or other people who have had close or casual contact with the client will be assessed by the health department. Where people meet the test criteria, they will be tested.

All people in contact with a confirmed case, will be required to self-isolate.

HCO will work closely with the health department and staff and clients impacted by the virus and act in accordance with the health department advice and direction.

Who will support a client who is confirmed to have COVID-19?

HCO will work closely with the health department and act in accordance with the health department advice and direction.

The client , depending on the seriousness of their illness, may be required to be admitted to and cared for in hospital or it may be determined that they can self-isolate at home.

These situations will be dealt with on a case by case basis in consultation and as directed by the health department.

All relevant people involved with providing supports and services to the client will be consulted and provided the necessary information and support to determine their desire to continue to support the client during this time and in consultation with the health department, provided the appropriate PPE, instruction and training to do so.

I am well, is it still okay to come to work?

HCO has a legal and ethical obligation to continue to provide very important services and supports to our clients and people with a disability and their families. HCO are working extremely hard to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of staff and clients and provide safe and quality services in what is a very difficult time and will work closely with you and government and regulatory bodies to ensure the delivery of safe, quality services and supports.

If you are fit and well, you SHOULD attend work as per your normal roster.

If you have AVAILABILITY in addition to your normal roster, please contact Rostering ASAP to discuss additional shifts.

I am unwell, but I am not displaying the symptoms of COVID-19.

In the event you are unwell, they you should take Personal Leave as you ordinarily would and report your absence to your Team Leader and Rostering.

What does self-isolate mean?

If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19, you must stay at home to prevent it spreading to other people.

Staying at home means you:

  • do not go to places such as work, school, shopping centres, childcare or university
  • ask someone to get food and other necessities for you and leave them at your front door
  • do not let visitors in
  • only people who usually live with you should be in your home
Who needs to self-isolate?

All people who arrive in Australia from midnight 15 March 2020, or think they may have been in close contact with a confirmed case of, are required to self-isolate for 14 days.

All people returning to South Australia, from another Australian state, are required to self-isolate for 14 days.

You might also be asked to self-isolate if you may have been exposed to the virus or had contact with a confirmed case.

If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19, you must self-isolate at home to prevent it spreading to other people for a period of 14 days.

Further guidance on self-isolation can be found on the Australian Government – Department of Health website

It is impossible for me to maintain social distancing practices because my client requires personal care and close contact.

We acknowledge that people with disability may need to have close contact with their support workers, however wherever possible, we encourage you to reduce unnecessary touching, maintain hygiene and infection control protocols and ensure social distancing as far as is reasonably practicable.

Seek advice from your team leader about potential work arounds and further advice and support for particular circumstances.

What if I am in a high-risk category due to age or health?

HCO recognises that staff who have underlying illnesses or at risk conditions that make them more vulnerable to illness, including those with diabetes, chronic lung disease, kidney failure, people with suppressed immune systems and older people, are at a higher risk of serious illness if they contract COVID-19.

Accordingly, HCO strongly encourages staff who are in high risk groups, with any of the above and or other risk factors and or who identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, to consider their personal circumstances and contact HR to discuss options, which may include accessing available leave entitlements and implementing precautionary self-isolation.

Should I wear a face mask?

If you are well and your client is well, you do not need to wear surgical masks as there is little evidence supporting the widespread use of surgical masks in healthy people to prevent transmission.

If you or your client has tested positive or been in close contact with a person with COVID-19, the health department will provide advice in relation to infection control and PPE requirements.

To reduce the risk of spreading this or other conditions with similar symptoms, such as flu:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds;
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands;
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick; and
  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow or cover with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the bin
  • Encourage and support your clients to do the same
Does an employee need a medical certificate in order to come to work after self-isolation?
  • If you have been in self-isolation due to mandatory self-isolation requirements relating to travel, you are not required to provide a certificate
  • If you have tested positive to COVID-19 you will be required provide a certificate or confirmation from a relevant health professional that you no longer have the virus and are cleared to return to work
Will HCO services stop because of COVID-19?

HCO’s aim is to maintain normal business continuity at this time in line with measures announced by the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission and the NDIA and the ongoing advice and direction issued by Federal and State Governments.

HCO is constantly monitoring the Australian Government’s and regulatory bodies direction and advice and will assess supports and services on an ongoing basis and implement modifications to programs, activities, services and supports in accordance with these directives and in accordance with HCO’s risk and pandemic planning.  

The NDIS Commission has reminded providers of several relevant requirements under the NDIS Practice Standards and NDIS Code of Conduct. These obligations relate to the ongoing safe delivery of high-quality services and the management of risks associated with service provision.  

 HCO will always consider the health, safety and wellbeing of our staff, clients, families and the community as being of paramount importance when decisions about HCO services and supports are being made. Any changes to HCO supports and services as a result of COVID-19 will be communicated promptly to staff.

Is HCO aware of limits on indoor gatherings and meetings?

Yes, HCO has already and will continue to make changes to the way we are delivering services and supports in accordance with the latest directives from the Federal and State Government and with considerations to our regulatory obligations.

HCO will be encouraging staff and clients to minimise outings and activities in enclosed spaces and recommend a strong focus on appropriate outdoor activities and outings and in home activities.

HCO will continue to be guided and act on the recommendations and advice of government and regulatory bodies in relation to this issue.

I work for another agency or employer. Do I need to tell HCO?

You do not have an obligation to tell us if you work for another agency or employer, however you do have an obligation to ensure your own health and safety of yourself and others.

In the light of the current COVID-19 crisis, HCO would appreciate you communicating with them about any other employment you have, so we can work with you to assess and minimise any potential risks to your health and safety and that of our staff and clients.

 

If you would like provide information about your work circumstances, please contact HR.

What are my leave entitlements in relation to COVID-19?

HCO acknowledges there are many uncertainties in relation to COVID-19 and we are highly aware of the importance supporting the ongoing health, safety and wellbeing of our staff and clients.

If you are unwell and it is not related to COVID-19 follow the normal process of taking personal leave and advise your Team Leader or Rostering.

If you are unwell, wish to self-isolate, are directed to self-isolate, or test positive to COVID-19, you should:

  • In the first instance, discuss your situation with your Team Leader or HR
  • If your Team Leader or HR determines that you are unable to undertake your normal or alternative duties, HCO has approved access to all available leave entitlements you may have
  • In the event you have no leave entitlements, HCO will discuss alternative options available with you
  • Further information is available via the Australian Government Services Australia website
As a HCO employee, what support is available to me?

HCO recognises and appreciates the significant contribution that all our staff make to the success and performance of our organisation and as such HCO has implemented a number of special provisions to support staff in direct relation to the impact of COVID-19.

We want you to be well, we want you be safe and we want you to continue to work for HCO, now and into the future.

In the event you are impacted by any of the following circumstances, please ensure you communicate with HR in relation to your particular circumstances and situation:

  1. If your shifts / rosters are cancelled by HCO due to COVID-19, or are unable to be performed because you:
  • have been directed, by your doctor or other medical/healthcare professionals, to self-isolate or been tested and awaiting results
  • have been confirmed as having contracted COVID-19
  • have a medical certificate/diagnosed medical condition/risk profile requiring you to be absent from the workplace because of COVID19-related risks
  • will be required to submit your timesheet in the usual way, accompanied by any related documentation (i.e. a medical certificate where available), for approval
  1. In the event HCO is required to cease non-essential supports and services, commencing from the date of the cessation of non-essential supports and services.
  2. Staff who are self-isolating as a result of caring for a member of their household who has COVID-19. After this period, you can access available paid leave entitlements or unpaid carer’s leave where you are caring for a member of your household in accordance with HCO’s leave policy and award arrangements.
  3. All staff are eligible to access any available leave entitlements as necessary.

Should you voluntarily choose to cancel your availability to attend active shifts and self-isolate, you will be able to access any available accrued leave entitlements or take leave without pay. Please ensure you communicate with HCO in relation to your particular circumstances and situation.

For further information in relation to people affected by COVID-19 and their employment, visit the Australian Government Services Australia website.

I am feeling anxious and stressed about the situation, what should I do?

If you are feeling anxious about the impact of COVID-19 please contact the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) Employee Assistance Program  for confidential counselling or advice.

Appointments are available from Monday to Friday, 9.00am – 5.00pm and can be booked by calling (08) 8410 2342

  • Provision has been made for consultations to be conducted remotely, for more information contactEmployee Assistance Program (EAP)
  • If you are feeling unwell, contact the Health Direct Hotline –1800 022 222 (24/7) or the  Helpline – 1800 020 080
  • In an emergency call 000

Further questions and information

If you have any further questions or concerns, please:

  • Email HCO COVID-19 Communications at: covid19@hco.net.au
  • Call HCO Administration, where you will be referred to the appropriate person, on: 8398 4400

Further information about COVID-19 is available on: