Frequently asked questions
HOW IS MELBA KEEPING PEOPLE SUPPORTED SAFE?
Melba Support Services is committed to ensuring the safety and wellbeing of the people we support, our staff, and others who visit our sites and services. We are closely monitoring information and advice, about the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic, provided from various authoritative sources, including the World Health Organisation, the Australian and Victorian state health authorities, and have taken several steps to ensure that everyone at Melba remains safe and experiences the best possible health.
Melba has established a Pandemic Operational Unit to oversee implementation of our pandemic plan. We have well established occupational health and safety policies and procedures that we use to protect the people we support from infection, particularly illnesses like COVID-19. Melba also has strong infection control mechanisms and staff are specifically trained in infection control and will be supported to ensure adherence to all infection control directions. Any enquiries from staff about infection control or personal hygiene can be directed to our Practice Support Line, which operates on a 24/7 basis.
As you may be aware, Melba employs four health outcome specialists who are playing a very helpful role. Advice prepared by our health outcome specialists has been distributed to staff reinforcing key infection control messages, including:
• The importance of following and supporting all people to practice good personal hygiene and coughing/sneezing etiquette, such as frequently washing hands with soap and water and using alcohol-based hand sanitisers.
• Increased focus on regularly cleaning and disinfecting surfaces in each home.
• Practicing social distancing, such as supporting people to stay at home and self-isolate if they are unwell, avoiding non-essential visits and meetings at service locations wherever possible, and keeping 1.5 metre distance between people, whenever possible and encouraging the use of face coverings whilst out in the community as per current state-wide restrictions.
In providing support to people, there is often a need for support which involves person to person contact, for example, support with meals and drinks or to get dressed. In these circumstances, our staff have been trained to use appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE). In addition to regular hand hygiene practices all staff providing direct support are required to wear a surgical mask and face shields (eye protection) as an additional precaution. Staff will limit other person to person contact with supported people, for example, they will not shake hands. Melba staff will guide and encourage people supported as much as possible to minimise touching other people during this period.
As well as all the above, we always ensure that people are supported at the earliest opportunity to access their treating general practitioner (GP) if they are unwell and staff follow the treating GP’s medical advice to ensure best possible health for each person supported in Melba’s SIL services.
WILL MELBA ENSURE PEOPLE SUPPORTED ACCESS MEDICAL ASSISTANCE IF THEY ARE UNWELL?
Yes. Melba is committed to ensuring the best possible health of people we support. Our procedures ensure that an individual is always supported to access medical assistance when required, and we continue to do this as we usually do.
We are also monitoring and will follow guidelines from the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services as to the best way to support a person to access a medical professional if a person supported show symptoms of COVID-19.
WILL MELBA HAVE ENOUGH SUPPLIES OF ESSENTIAL ITEMS?
Yes. Melba has plans in place to maintain essential supplies at each of our group homes. Our current approach is:
• To ensure that each group home has enough essential supplies. We have allocated additional funding so that each group home has access to necessary funds to purchase these supplies. We continue to enable the people we support to choose their supplies and will do so for as long as possible in the current climate.
• To ensure that individuals we support have a good supply of any prescribed medications that they use.
We are also continually sourcing essential infection control supplies, including personal protective equipment, disinfectant, hand soap and alcohol-based hand rub
WHAT IF MY FAMILY MEMBER HAS BEEN TOLD THAT THEY NEED TO SELF-ISOLATE, HOW WILL MELBA SUPPORT THEM?
In supported independent living (SIL), including group homes, if a person supported has been told that they need to self-isolate they will be supported to do so either in their bedroom at the group home, at another purposefully set up Melba service location if possible or with family members if that is preferred.
People will be supported to understand why they need to remain in isolation and why certain personal protective equipment is required to be used. They will also be supported to engage in activities of interest while they are in isolation.
DO ALL PEOPLE SUPPORTED/STAFF/VISITORS NEED TO WEAR A MASK?
Face coverings are now mandatory when leaving the house under state-wide community restrictions.
In accordance with Victorian and DHHS requirements for disability services, all disability support staff and visitors must wear a face covering at all times when they are working or visiting Melba’s services in all regions.
Melba staff that provide direct care to supported persons are required to wear a surgical face mask and face shield (eye protection) whilst delivering care.
All visitors entering a Melba house must wear a face mask during their visit. Use of a face mask (cloth or surgical) or other face covering is an important protective measure. If a visitor cannot wear a face mask due to a lawful exception (i.e. due to medical, communication or individual risk factors) they should use a face shield instead.
People we support are also required and will be supported to wear a face covering when leaving their home unless it is impractical or unsafe for them to do so for medical, communication or other individual risk factors.
Melba will continue to monitor and implement authoritative requirements and guidelines for the use of face coverings in all services across Victoria.
WHAT HAPPENS IF MELBA’S SUPPORT WORKERS GET SICK OR NEED TO SELF-ISOLATE?
Melba’s priority is to ensure that the people who purchase services from us, receive the support they need.
We are continually training staff and will redeploy staff from other duties if needed to maintain essential services.
ARE ALL OF MELBA’S SERVICES OPERATIONAL?
Following the Victorian Governments Stay at Home Directions in metropolitan Melbourne and regional areas. Melba’s approach to managing the pandemic, like that of the Victorian State Government, varies in different geographic areas given different levels of COVID-19 infection in different communities.
• Our SIL services continue to operate. In regional Gippsland, Central Highlands and Wimmera regions, the Government’s Stay at Home Directions (Stage 3 restrictions) continue to apply. For our SIL services in the metropolitan South and East regions, the Government’s Stay at Home Directions (Stage 4) are relevant. In each of these regions Melba is supporting individuals to abide by the relevant authoritative community-wide requirements.
• We are continuing to provide limited respite services to people who have urgent needs based on conversations we have with individuals and their families and our stringent infection control protocols.
• Similarly, for people who access
Individualised supports, we are continuing to provide one-to-one support services to existing participants in both regional and metropolitan areas subject to individual need and safety reviews.
• We are continuing to provide limited supports through our Arthur Creative program in Central Highlands, with a strong focus on maintaining physical distancing, and a continued focus on practicing excellent personal hygiene and infection control. We will not, however, resume group-based services in the Melbourne metropolitan areas for at least the period of the Stay at Home Directions. We will continue to discuss with individuals and their families what supports we may be able to provide in the absence of our normal Community Connections services.
Melba continues to carefully monitor progression of the pandemic across the state and, if necessary, will refine our service provision and recovery plans accordingly. We will continue to abide by Government directions and ensure that services are delivered safely to people we support and for our staff.
HOW WILL MELBA KEEP YOU INFORMED?
The situation and information are changing frequently, and Melba is committed to keeping the people we support, families or other nominated supporters informed as further information becomes available.
Any decisions taken that have the potential to impact you, our staff or other stakeholders will be communicated at the earliest opportunity. While Melba will email all important information to you, we will also provide important information and updates on our website. Melba’s communication team are available and committed to advising all concerned of any relevant developments in our response to the COVID-19 virus.
If Melba does not have your current email address, please send to firstname.lastname@example.org with a request we use your email address to keep you informed.
I STILL HAVE A QUESTION, WHO DO I CONTACT?
If you still have a question about Melba’s response to COVID-19, please call our dedicated pandemic hotline. The hotline number is 1300 MYMELBA (1300 696352). It is currently available during business hours, but its operating times will be extended as necessary. You can, of course, also contact the General Manager Outcomes in your area. Our four GMOs are:
GMO Central Highlands & Wimmera, Rachael Jones (email@example.com)
GMO East, Aaron Fry (firstname.lastname@example.org)
GMO Gippsland, Kerrie White (email@example.com)
GMO South, Angela Quero (firstname.lastname@example.org)
CAN I VISIT MY FAMILY MEMBER OR FRIEND WHO LIVES IN A MELBA SUPPORTED HOME?
If it is not essential that you visit, it is preferable that you don’t visit. While we value that people supported remain connected to their social networks, particularly during times such as this, we also understand the importance of physical distancing wherever possible.
We will therefore support you to maintain contact with your family member or friend through alternative interim contact arrangements such as phone calls, skype calls or Facetime.
If a visit is essential,
we request that family members and support persons call ahead for all visits. In accordance with the most recent directive from the Deputy Chief Health Officer for care facilities (including disability residential services), a supported person may have
one care and support visit from a parent, guardian, carer or support person (for example friend or sibling) per day. Children under 16 are not permitted to visit except with end of life care or where they are a sibling, child or grandchild of the person supported.
Only one visitor may visit each day for a maximum duration of two hours.
If the weather is fine, we will support your family member to meet with you in a suitable outdoor space of their Melba Supported home. If the weather is inclement, we will support you to meet with your family member in the front most lounge room, or the person’s bedroom if no such lounge room is available.
All visitors will have their temperature checked and must sign the Health Attestation form to say they are well and not meant to be isolating. No one with a fever or symptoms can visit. Whilst at the Melba home, all visitors must wear a mask, keep up good hand hygiene and maintain physical distancing from all at the house including the person supported if possible.
If any person supported in our service is unwell, we may ask you not to visit. We will update you if this needs to happen.
CAN PEOPLE LIVING IN A MELBA SUPPORTED HOME STILL GO OUT AND ABOUT?
In line with the relevant government directions, Melba is supporting people to abide by community- wide restrictions.
For people supported living in and accessing Melba supports and services within
Metropolitan areas (South and East), the Victorian Stay at Home Directions apply (stage 4). In accordance with this direction, staff are supporting people to stay at home wherever possible. Under current restrictions there are only 4 reasons permitted to leave home. These include shopping for food, for work or study, to provide care for compassionate reasons or to seek medical treatment and for exercise. Under tighter restrictions a curfew was been introduced between the hours of 8pm till 5am. The only reasons you are permitted to be outside your house during those curfew hours are to get care, to give care or to travel to and from work.
For people supported living in and accessing Melba supports and services within Regional areas (Central Highlands, Wimmera and Gippsland) , the Victorian Stay at Home Directions (Stage 3)apply. The above same 4 permitted reasons to leave home exist as per Metropolitan areas, however regional areas do not currently have a curfew in place.
CAN MY FAMILY MEMBER VISIT OR COME STAY WITH ME FOR A PERIOD OF TIME AND THEN RETURN TO THEIR MELBA SUPPORTED HOME?
Melba is promoting and practicing all requirements advised for the community, and disability services specifically, by the Victorian Chief Health Officer and the Department of Health and Human Services.
For people supported living in the regional areas of Central Highlands, Wimmera or Gippsland the Victorian Stay at Home (Stage 3) Directions apply. In keeping with this direction, people supported living in the Central Highlands, Wimmera or Gippsland regions may leave their Melba supported home to visit friends, family and loved ones, if it is important for them to do so for their own and other’s health, well-being and social connection. However, all Victorians living in these regions are being asked to consider whether visits to family and friends are necessary, especially where people are more vulnerable. For people supported in Melba SIL services, consideration needs to be given to whether visits to family and friends are necessary or if video conferencing, phone calls, text message or social media can continue to be used to stay in touch with people.
For people supported living in the metropolitan areas of East and South (including the Mornington Peninsula) the Victorian Stay at Home Directions apply. In keeping with this direction, people supported are required to remain at home as much as possible and avoid all unnecessary transport and excursions. This includes ceasing nonessential activities in the community and physical visits to families and friends.
For the purposes of both the Victorian Stay at Home Directions, a person’s Melba supported home is considered that person’s normal place of residence. If a person is temporarily away from their Melba supported home, they should not return if they have clinical symptoms of COVID-19 (including any new fever, chills or breathing problems, specifically cough, sore throat or shortness of breath). These clinical symptoms are the clinical criteria for testing and people supported should be tested for COVID-19 if they have these symptoms.
People supported who have been notified by the Department of Health and Human Services that they are a close contact of a confirmed case should also not return to their Melba supported home anytime during their 14-day isolation period.
To keep all people living at the Melba supported home safe, we have implemented specific protocols to be followed where a supported person returns to their Melba supported home after being temporarily away visiting family or friends, either for a short visit or overnight stays. Staff will inform you of the protocol when you contact us to arrange for your loved one to visit.
DOES MELBA HAVE MASKS AVAILABLE FOR STAFF IF REQUIRED?
Yes, all staff are now required to wear surgical masks (and face shields) when providing care to supported persons. We have worked very hard to source masks from Australian and overseas suppliers and from government. As such we do have a supply ready to support our staff and supported persons.
I AM A FAMILY MEMBER OF A PERSON SUPPORTED, WHAT HAPPENS IF THERE IS A CONFIRMED CASE OF COVID-19 AND I WANT/NEED TO VISIT?
Providing access to medical care for the people we support, whenever needed is our priority. If a case of COVID-19 was to be confirmed, people supported, families and nominated supporters will be notified as soon as possible when Melba becomes aware that a person supported may have been in close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case. To protect people’s privacy, details about individuals will not be communicated when this occurs.
CAN I GET HOME DELIVERY FROM SUPERMARKETS?
Yes. A new initiative was launched on Monday 6 April for NDIS participants to receive priority home delivery during the pandemic from most supermarkets. Every NDIS participant will receive an individual code via SMS or email which will give them access to the priority delivery offer. NDIS participants will be able to receive items home delivered. Supermarkets (Woolworths, Coles, IGA and Foodland IGA and Foodworks) will pick items and prioritise the delivery of orders. See NDIS webpage for more information.
Please note it may take up to one week for priority home delivery access codes to activate on supermarket websites. If an NDIS participant did not receive a code, he/she can contact the National Contact Centre on 1800 800 110 and request a new code.
HOW IS MELBA KEEPING PEOPLE SAFE IN OUR COMMUNITY CONNECTIONS GROUP-BASED SERVICES?
Due to increases in community rates of infection in metropolitan Melbourne areas and a return to Stay at Home Directions in these areas, at this stage, we will not resume group-based services in the metropolitan Melbourne region for at least the period of the Stay at Home directions. We will continue to discuss with individuals and their families what supports we may be able to provide in the absence of our normal Community Connections services.
WHAT ARE REQUIREMENTS FOR OTHER SERVICE PROVIDERS PROVIDING SUPPORT TO PEOPLE IN A MELBA SIL SERVICE?
Some people may choose to receive supports during the day in their Melba supported home from another provider, including individual NDIS core support or therapeutic support providers. Where a supported person elects to have another provider deliver supports to them in their home, Melba is working to ensure that physical distancing requirements and appropriate visitor screening and hygiene measures are maintained.
When another provider enters a Melba supported home, the person attending is required to abide by our stringent infection control measures, including hand washing and/or use of hand sanitiser when entering the home and during their visit, as well as maintaining a distance of 1.5 meters from other residents, wherever possible and wearing of a surgical mask and face shield when providing direct support.
Staff from other providers are not permitted to enter a Melba supported home, if they::
If any person supported in the Melba Supported home is unwell, we may ask other providers not to attend. If this occurs, we will update the person supported, their family/natural supporters and the other provider as soon as possible.
Have recently returned to Australia from overseas in the preceding 14 days, or
Have been in contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 (coronavirus) in the last 14 days, or
Have been tested for or are suspected of having COVID-19, or
Are unwell with a fever or symptoms of COVID-19 (particularly shortness of breath, cough or sore throat).
WHY IS MY TEMPERATURE BEING TAKEN AT A MELBA SUPPORTED HOME BEFORE I VISIT? (Updated 11 September 2020)
DHHS now require disability support workers to have their temperature checked AND to sign an Attestation form confirming that they are completely well and have no symptoms of COVID-19 before starting work at a Melba SIL or STAA service.
At Melba, we have decided these really important protections for the people we support should apply to ANYONE entering a Melba SIL or STAA service.
If anyone – staff, other workers, family, friends, or other visitors - has a fever or any symptoms they must not enter our home. We all need to stay at home - and get tested! - if we are at all unwell.
We also want to encourage only essential visits for now. We will happily discuss other ways to keep in touch and stay connected.
WHAT IS THIS HEALTH ATTESTATION FORM I HAVE TO FILL OUT BEFORE I VISIT AT A MELBA SUPPORTED HOME? (Updated 11 September 2020)
Along with having your temperature checked, Melba staff will help you fill out a quick form. It just double checks that you don’t have any symptoms of COVID-19 and that you are not meant to be isolating.
If anyone – staff, other workers, family, friends, or other visitors - has any symptoms they must not enter our home. We all need to stay at home - and get tested! - if we are at all unwell.
The form will be destroyed and shredded after 6 weeks – but it will help contact tracing if anyone gets sick in the meantime.
We know paperwork can be boring, but thanks for helping protect everyone at the Melba supported home.