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.
At the start of 2020 we would never have envisaged that the world would be so impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. We have been posting information on our website regularly, but we also wanted to take this opportunity to provide you with a further written update.
Focusing on health and well-being
Despite the fluid nature of this pandemic, our constant focus has remained on doing everything we can to ensure the safety and wellbeing of people we support and staff. We are pleased to confirm there still have been no positive COVID-19 cases among any people we support or our staff. While there are things we cannot control, we believe that our precautions, the infection control measures that remain in place, and the hard work of all our staff have helped to keep people safe over the past few weeks.
Keeping in touch has been as important as ever during this period. We have focused efforts on remaining in contact with those who are not accessing suspended services. This included recently making more than 500 telephone calls to those who use our support services to check on how they are going.
In addition, there have been wonderful examples of people we support and their support workers keeping in touch regularly by the use of technology such as video calls. It has been important to remain socially connected even when people could not be physically together.
Our focus on well-being also includes providing free ‘flu shots to our staff to keep them healthy, and to reduce risk of transmission of the ‘flu to people we support. Our own Medical Adviser, Dr Miranda Sandars, and one of our nurses, Courtney Brouwer, have started immunizing staff. It is already looking on track to be our best uptake ever.
We also want to acknowledge the generous assistance provided by two families – the Grahams and McAllisters – who through their businesses have helped us purchase additional stocks of Personal Protective Equipment for use as required. Additional infection kits with PPE are now being distributed to every one of our group homes.
DHHS advice about ‘Stay at Home’ Directions and testing
You may already be aware of the recent revisions to Department of Health and Human Services’ advice regarding ‘Stay at Home’ Directions. This advice notes that if you live in a long-term supported disability accommodation facility, this is your normal place of residence for the purposes and the full duration of the Victorian Government’s ‘Stay at Home’ Directions.
Leaving that normal place of residence to stay for any time at the family home and then returning to the supported accommodation facility carries a risk of transmission and should be avoided unless absolutely necessary.
Residents who have been residing elsewhere temporarily should only return to the supported accommodation facility if they are well, have no symptoms of COVID 19, and are not in a 14-day quarantine period. However, it should be noted a medical clearance is no longer required by the Department of Health and Human Services. Additionally, the department has advised that testing criteria have been relaxed and, as part of the recently announced commitment to test 100,000 Victorians in the next two weeks, staff and residents of group homes who have any symptoms, however mild, will be encouraged to participate in testing.
Planning ahead for the safe recommencement of suspended services
While it is great that infection rates have slowed dramatically, the Victorian Government’s State of Emergency is still in place until 11 May 2020. We are currently awaiting further advice from the Chief Health Officer about the emergency and what may change regarding existing restrictions. While we await this official advice, we are currently planning for the recommencement of suspended services to ensure it will be a smooth and safe process for all. We will provide more information to you and your loved one once we hear more from state health authorities.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Melba’s hotline number on 1300 MYMELBA (1300 696352). Please continue to check our website www.melbasupport.com.au for the most recent information including any important updates to the Frequently Asked Questions page.
Glenn Foard Hayley Dean
Chief Executive Officer Chief Outcome Officer
Previous CEO and COO COVID-19 (Coronavirus) updates: