There is a pandemic hotline to respond to questions and queries from our Melba community. The hotline number is 1300 MYMELBA (1300 696352). For all other community members, if needed please contact the DHHS Coronavirus 24-hour Hotline number: 1800 675 398.
Today’s announcement from the Victorian Premier, which followed last Friday’s announcement by the Prime Minister, is an important COVID-19 development. Accordingly, we wanted to write to you as soon as possible. In doing so, we can continue to confirm we have not had any person we support or staff member test positive to COVID-19, but as we all know complacency at this time would be a mistake. We want to continue to do all we can to protect the health and safety of people we support and our staff, noting that the State of Emergency in Victoria is continuing to at least 31 May 2020.
The need for a cautious and staged recovery In response to the Premier’s announcement and the slight easing of restrictions, we are implementing a cautious and staged recovery, while continuing to adhere to the advice from the relevant state authorities. In accordance with our pandemic plans, we can now start to provide a select range of supports to more individuals and their families, in addition to the services we have been providing to our most vulnerable individuals since the start of the pandemic emergency.
Our goals during this recovery process will be to:
Return to providing responsive, individually-tailored supports to individuals and their families over time;
Protect the safety and wellbeing of people we support and our employees; and
Ensure effective communication throughout the recovery.
Through careful preparation, a staged recovery will enable:
Responsiveness to those who are most vulnerable and those in the greatest need of immediate support;
The continuation of our practices and protocols to deliver continued optimal hygiene and safety for all people; and
A safe approach that cannot be defined as ‘business as usual’ but delivers progressively more services given relatively low rates of infection.
We will continue our practice and protocols about hygiene, safety and physical distancing. And as noted, we will continue to rely on the advice from Victoria’s Chief Health Officer along with our own Medical Adviser and our Practice, Quality and Safeguards team.
The initial next steps for the staged recovery Providing additional respite (Short Term Accommodation Assistance) services will be an important next step. Following on from the phone calls we have already made to check in with families who access this service, in the coming days we will be contacting those individuals identified as requiring immediate support. There is no need to contact us at this stage.
Our plans also allow for the gradual and safe recommencement of individual support services. Just like the recent government announcements, our recovery steps will involve a staged resumption of individual services, beginning with those most in need. We will draw on the information gathered during recent phone calls we made to check in with these families and contact those most in need. Again, there is no necessity to contact us at this time.
Close assessment of group-based services As you would understand, there are significant challenges relating to maintaining physical distancing when providing group-based services, as well as offering support in settings that meet the social-spacing requirements. That is why, as part of this cautious and staged return, we plan to recommence group-based services at a later stage of this recovery process.
Easing of restrictions: visitors to a residential home Today’s announcement included a first, cautious step to reduce restrictions on visits to family and friends.
But the advice from the Victorian Premier also included the importance of making the right decisions about our visits so that we can still protect the safety and wellbeing of others. The message remains stay at home if you possibly can. The Premier said he won’t be visiting his elderly mum. Similarly, Glenn’s made the decision, to protect the safety of his own parents who are living in an aged-care accommodation setting, to not visit and instead catch up using FaceTime. Technology is a second-best option, but it helps keep people safe.
We would like to continue our existing visiting protocols at Melba that state if it is not essential that you visit, it is preferable that you don’t visit your family member’s group home.
While we know how important it is that people supported remain connected to their social networks, particularly during times such as this, we also understand the importance of social distance. We will continue to 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 call ahead before any visit.
This will help us balance how we manage visitors to group homes safely, in accordance with social distancing requirements, while still allowing people we support to feel as connected as possible to their friends and family.
Flexibility will be key Importantly, our recovery plans will be flexible. While the safe recommencement of suspended services may not look like ‘business as usual’, we will aim to be creative and responsive to the most urgent needs of people we support.
We know we are not out of the woods in relation to the pandemic. We will carefully monitor any increase in infections and, if necessary, we will refine our recovery plans accordingly. We will be ready to revert to previous stages of the pandemic response if required by government or a resurgence of COVID-19. Our need to be flexible will be as important as ever.
If you have any questions or concerns at this stage, please do not hesitate to contact your regional general manager by email
Aaron Fry – East: firstname.lastname@example.org
Angela Quero – South: email@example.com
Kerrie White – Gippsland: firstname.lastname@example.org
Rachael Jones – Central Highlands & Wimmera: email@example.com
Or, if you prefer, you can call Melba’s hotline number on 1300 MYMELBA (1300 696352).
Glenn Foard Hayley Dean
Chief Executive Officer Chief Outcome Officer
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