November 2023: Strategic Approach to Navigate the Ongoing COVID-19 Challenge
In the midst of the eighth wave of COVID-19, intensified by low vaccination rates and communication fatigue, the nation faces a critical juncture. Given these circumstances, healthcare providers must promptly review and communicate updated COVID-19 safety plans to their staff.
Current COVID-19 Surge
The eighth wave of COVID-19 is actively advancing through communities and is projected to culminate around the Christmas period. Health authorities are alarmed by the risk of neglecting the serious, enduring consequences of infection due to communication fatigue.
Key COVID-19 Insights:
- Risk Management Recommendations:
- Social distancing of 1.5 meters indoors, emphasizing correct hand hygiene, and reinforcing standard and transmission-based precautions through resources such as factsheets and posters.
- Adequate stocking of facilities with essential supplies, including soap, sanitizer, Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs), and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
- Reviewing risks to staff in close-contact environments and considering the adoption of N95 masks, with guidance provided by the National Disability Services (NDS).
- Improving indoor ventilation through proper positioning of air scrubbers, monitored for servicing and cleaning.
- Actionable Steps for Symptomatic Staff:
- Ensuring staff familiarity with organizational policies on COVID-19 testing and isolation.
- Checking COVID-19 leave grant guidelines for staff who have exhausted all leave.
- Revisiting communications and agreements with participants about their involvement in activities when COVID-19 positive or symptomatic.
- Vaccination Strategies:
- Encouraging staff to receive their eligible COVID-19 vaccinations as a crucial risk management strategy.
- Sharing up-to-date information about vaccination doses and eligibility with people with disabilities, their families, or carers.
- NDIS Guidelines:
- NDIS has issued a newsletter emphasizing the importance of staying COVID-safe.
- Highlighting options for accessing additional funded assistance for COVID-19 vaccinations as part of participants’ plans.
- Reminding individuals that Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) can be purchased as part of core supports.
- Additional Resources:
- Referring to NDS COVID-19 Risk Management resources, including Australian Government outbreak management and guidance for disability settings.
- Accessing the free online COVID-19 kit for support coordinators developed by The Growing Space and other support coordination providers.
Low Rates of COVID-19 Vaccinations
The country is currently experiencing a significant shortfall in COVID-19 vaccination rates, prompting health authorities to strongly advocate for employers to actively encourage all staff to receive their eligible COVID-19 vaccinations. Emphasizing the importance of this as a pivotal risk management strategy, authorities aim to minimize the health risks associated with infection.
In order to mitigate the risk of infections and subsequent hospitalizations, it is crucial for providers to disseminate current information regarding COVID-19 vaccination doses and eligibility to individuals with disabilities and their families or caregivers.
As of November 20, ATAGI has identified additional vaccine options. It’s important to note that while these options are available, there have been no changes to dose and eligibility requirements. Detailed information can be accessed on their dedicated COVID-19 booster vaccine advice webpage.
For those seeking COVID-19 vaccination providers, the Service Finder on healthdirect offers a comprehensive directory for easy accessibility.
NDIS COVID-19 Information for Participants
Providers should be informed that the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) has dispatched a newsletter to reinforce the significance of maintaining COVID safety among individuals with disabilities, their families, and caregivers.
The newsletter outlines the available options for incorporating additional funded assistance for COVID-19 vaccinations into participants’ plans. It also serves as a reminder that Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) can be procured by individuals with disabilities as part of their core supports.
In response to the current situation, The Growing Space and other support coordination providers have collaboratively designed a comprehensive, free online COVID-19 kit tailored specifically for support coordinators.
Recognizing the collective benefits, the effective management of COVID-19 risks is crucial for the well-being of all staff, individuals with disabilities, and the broader community. Moreover, addressing known workplace risks is an integral responsibility for providers in this context.
Effectively managing COVID-19 risks is paramount for the well-being of staff, individuals with disabilities, and the wider community. Providers must stay informed, revisit their emergency and disaster management plans, and actively encourage vaccination to mitigate the impact of the ongoing pandemic.
Our Support Services
At Wisdom Care, we pride ourselves in helping you implement your NDIS plan: by providing tailored services, experienced support workers and connecting you to suitable Allied health professionals.