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COVID-19 FAQS

Frequently asked questions

HOW IS MELBA KEEPING PEOPLE SUPPORTED SAFE?


FAQ updated on 24/11/2020 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. 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.




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?


FAQ updated on 06/01/2021 Melba staff that provide direct care to supported persons are required to wear a surgical face mask and face shield or goggles (eye protection) whilst providing support services. In accordance with Victorian and DHHS requirements for disability services, all visitors must wear a surgical face mask at all times when they are visiting Melba’s services in all regions. 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?


FAQ updated on 24/11/2020

Melba will continue to provide supports and services in line with the Victorian State Government directives. As all of Victoria has now moved into the Last Step of the Victorian roadmap for reopening, these are the current services that are operational:

• 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 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. At this stage we have not resumed group-based services in the metropolitan Melbourne. 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, Rachael Jones (rachael.jones@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?


FAQ updated on 24/11/2020

Yes, visits are permitted but please call ahead. 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, there are no restrictions on the purpose, number or time limits for visitors to Melba’s SIL and STAA services. Because many more people could be visiting, it is vital that you ring and plan your visit with us so that we can ensure that density limits are adhered to. Let us know how many people are coming, and please stick to the time that works best for everyone.

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 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 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?


FAQ updated on 08/12/2020

Yes, there are no restrictions on reasons to leave home. All Victorians can now travel the distance they choose within the state.

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 as outlined via COVIDSafe Summer restrictions (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?


FAQ updated on 24/11/2020

In line with the current state-wide restrictions, people supported can leave their Melba supported home to visit friends, family and loved ones. There is no limit on the length of time a person can visit, and they can stay overnight.

All Victorians are being asked to consider whether face to face visits with family and friends are necessary, especially where people are more vulnerable. Melba will continue to support people to connect with friends and family via video conferencing, phone calls, text message and/or social media.

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.

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.




DOES MELBA HAVE PPE AVAILABLE FOR STAFF IF REQUIRED?


FAQ updated on 24/11/2020

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?


FAQ updated on 24/11/2020

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?


FAQ updated on 24/11/2020

At this stage, Melba has not resumed group-based services in metropolitan Melbourne. 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.

We continue 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.




WHAT ARE REQUIREMENTS FOR OTHER SERVICE PROVIDERS PROVIDING SUPPORT TO PEOPLE IN A MELBA SIL SERVICE?


FAQ updated on 30/10/2020

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 complete a Health Attestation, have their temperature checked 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 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).
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.




WHY DO I NEED TO HAVE TO SIGN AN ATTESTATION FORM BEFORE I VISIT A MELBA SUPPORTED HOME?


FAQ updated on 24/11/2020

DHHS requires that all visitors and workers to Melba supported homes have their temperature checked AND sign an Attestation form confirming that they are completely well and have no symptoms of COVID-19 before entering a Melba SIL or STAA service.

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 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.

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.





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

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