Frequently asked questions

HOW IS MELBA KEEPING SUPPORTED PEOPLE 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 three 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 physical distancing, such as supporting people to stay at home and self-isolate if they are unwell, avoiding crowded locations, 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.
  • Wearing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) in line with current government directives. This means that in addition to regular hand hygiene practices all staff providing direct support can be required 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. More recently Melba has been working to encourage, support and facilitate people supported and staff to access the COVID-19 vaccine. The Central Highlands Wimmera region team partnered with Ballarat Health services to streamline access for supported people. In the East, South and Gippsland we engaged ASPEN medical to create pop-up hubs for staff and supported people and on-site opportunities for people best vaccinated at home. Melba is also continuing to look for ways to reduce barriers for people wanting to access vaccination.




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 Families, Fairness and Housing as to the best way to support a person to access a medical professional if a person supported show symptoms of COVID-19.




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?


Melba staff that provide direct care to supported persons in all services are required to wear a surgical face mask whilst providing support services. When advised from Government directives eye protection (face shield or goggles) will also be used. In accordance with Victorian government requirements for disability services, all visitors entering a Melba house must wear a surgical face mask during their visit. Use of a face mask 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 mask when leaving their home, in accordance with current community-wide restrictions, unless it is impractical or unsafe for them to do so for medical, communication or other individual risk factors. In addition, staff working in or anyone visiting a Melba office are required to wear a surgical mask.

Melba will continue to monitor and implement authoritative requirements and guidelines for the use of face masks 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?


Melba will continue to provide supports and services in line with the Victorian State Government directives:

• Our SIL services continue to operate. Melba will support individuals to abide by the relevant authoritative community-wide requirements. • We are continuing to provide 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 will continue to support those individuals who are most vulnerable and where centre-based support is essential.
  • During regional lockdowns Arthur Creative can offer support through online workshops and phone chats to families and individuals to help keep people connected to community and stay safe. We can discuss options and support for vulnerable individuals through 1:1 art workshops.
  • 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 melba@melbasupport.com.au 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, Jacqui McCowan (jacqui.mccowan@melbasupport.com.au) GMO East, Aaron Fry (aaron.fry@melbasupport.com.au) GMO Gippsland, Kerrie White (kerrie.white@melbasupport.com.au) GMO South, Angela Quero (angela.quero@melbasupport.com.au)




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 really preferable that you don’t visit. We want people supported to remain connected to their families and social networks, but this has to be balanced against the risks of spreading the coronavirus. We will support you to maintain contact with your family member or friend in other ways, such as phone calls, Skype calls or Facetime. But if a visit is truly essential, please call ahead for all visits. We need to make sure visits are timed well, and that there is enough room to keep everyone safe at the Melba home. Please be aware that the rules set down by the Chief Health Officer for care facilities (including disability residential services) do change at times. When you ring to plan a visit, we will tell you what the current rules and restrictions are and can check that everyone is well before they visit. Currently, up to two people (not including dependent children accompanying a visitor) can visit a supported person at a Melba supported home per day, for an unlimited time, to provide essential care or support for a person’s physical and emotional wellbeing. These two visitors can visit at the same time or separately in the day. When you visit any Melba Supported home, we all have to be careful. If the weather is fine, it is best to have that visit in a suitable outdoor area at the home. If the weather isn’t great we will support you to meet with your family member in a separate lounge room, or the person’s bedroom if no other space is available. All visitors will have to ‘check in’ using the Vic QR code displayed at the Melba supported home and complete a declaration to say they are well and not meant to be quarantining or isolating. . No one who has visited an exposure site in Victoria or interstate, has been identified as a close contact of a confirmed COVID-19 case, is awaiting a COVID-19 test result, or who has a fever or any COVID-19 symptoms can visit. Whilst at the Melba home, all visitors must wear a mask, keep up good hand hygiene and maintain physical distancing from everyone at the house including your family member or friend if possible. If any person supported in our service is unwell, we may ask you not to visit. Another reason to help us by phoning ahead to book and plan visits. We hope you can enjoy a great safe time together.




CAN PEOPLE LIVING IN A MELBA SUPPORTED HOME STILL GO OUT AND ABOUT?


People are supported to engage in the community, in line with current community restrictions. People will be supported to follow COVID-19 safe practices, including wearing a face mask when leaving home in accordance with current community-wide requirements unless it is impractical or unsafe for the person supported to do so due to medical, communication or other individual risk factors), diligent hand washing, and maintaining a 1.5 metre distance from other community members where practicable.




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 Families, Fairness and Housing. In keeping with the Victorian Stay at Home Directions, 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 the 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 symptoms are the clinical criteria for testing and people supported should be tested for COVID-19 if they have these symptoms. They should not return to their Melba home until they receive a negative test result.
  • They have been tested for COVID-19 and have not yet received the test result. They should not return to their Melba home until they receive a negative test result.
  • They have been notified by the Victorian Department of Health that they are a primary or secondary close contact of a confirmed case. They should also not return to their Melba Supported Home anytime during their 14-day isolation period.
  • They have visited an identified exposure site in Victoria or Interstate. If they have visited a listed tier 1 exposure site, they should not return to their Melba home until they return a negative test result and they have completed the required 14-day self-quarantine period. If they have visited a listed tier 2 exposure site, they should not return to their Melba home until they receive a negative test result.
  • Their family members or other people in their family’s household have COVID-19, have been tested, or have been told to isolate. The supported person should not return to their Melba supported home until their family members or other people in their family’s household have received a negative test result and/or completed their period of isolation.
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 PPE AVAILABLE FOR STAFF IF REQUIRED?


Yes, staff and people supported have access to Melba’s acquired Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) stock, which includes surgical masks and face shields.




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?


If a case of COVID-19 was to be confirmed, people supported, families and nominated supporters will be notified as soon as possible.

If a person supported at a Melba house is suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19, only essential visitors wearing full PPE will be able to enter the Melba home. Please make sure to contact Melba before visiting.

To protect people’s privacy, details about individuals will not be communicated when this occurs.




HOW IS MELBA KEEPING PEOPLE SAFE IN OUR COMMUNITY CONNECTIONS GROUP-BASED SERVICES?


We will continue to support those individuals who are most vulnerable and where centre-based support is essential.

  • During regional lockdowns Arthur Creative can offer support through online workshops and phone chats to families and individuals to help keep people connected to community and stay safe. We can discuss options and support for vulnerable individuals through 1:1 art workshops.

  • 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 COVID-19 screening and infection control measures are maintained.

When another provider enters a Melba supported home, the person attending is required to ‘ check in’ using the Vic QR code displayed at the service and complete a declaration to say they are well and not meant to be quarantining or isolating, and abide by our stringent infection control measures which includes 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.

Staff from other providers are not permitted to enter a Melba supported home, if they:

  • Have visited an exposure site in Victoria or interstate, 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

  • Live with someone from a Tier 1 and Tier 2 site,

  • Are unwell with a fever or symptoms of COVID-19 (particularly shortness of breath, cough or sore throat).

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.





Who can I call if I am worried and I think I have symptoms?

DHHS Coronavirus 24-hour Hotline number: 1800 675 398

National Coronavirus Helpline: 1800 020 080

Nurse On-Call: 1300-606-024

For Melba Community Only – the Melba Community COVID Hotline: 1300 696 352