COVID-19 Archives - Afea Care Services

The COVID-19 precautions we’re taking to protect our Clients and staff

We’re committed to protecting the vulnerable from COVID-19.

We heard recently in the Disability Royal Commission public hearings about reports of support workers in Victoria exposing people with a disability to COVID-19. Stories like this concern us all. At Afea, we’re doing our best to minimise potential exposure of our Clients, Carers and staff to COVID-19.

According to the NDIS, we “have an obligation to make sure that any support or service that is required by a person with disability to maintain their health, wellbeing and safety is continued to be provided. It is expected that the way in which some supports and services are delivered will need to change.”

We have introduced the following precautions during this COVID-19 period:

  • We have been following all of the recommendations and requirements of the government. This includes self-isolation after travelling or if we’re showing any flu-like symptoms.
  • We have heavily invested in extra PPE such as masks, face shields and even full-body suits. In some cases, we are also using gloves and shoe coverings as an extra precaution. All of this extra PPE has been provided by Afea so our Carers or Clients aren’t out of pocket.
  • We have asked that all staff get flu shots, and we have reimbursed the expense.
  • We have created videos with instructions for Carers. Included in these videos are proper handwashing, using PPE correctly and social distancing.
  • We have provided compulsory COVID-19 training for Carers.
  • We now conduct initial assessments and meetings with new Clients remotely where possible.
  • We have introduced remote services and shopping on behalf of the client (particularly at the height of lockdown).
  • To ensure continuity of support for our clients, we’ve introduced A and B teams in the office and conduct most of our meetings remotely. We also check everyone’s temperatures and ask them to log their visit when entering the office.

We’re also very mindful of the impact this period is having on mental health. The isolation and health anxiety can take a toll on us all. Which is why we have introduced self-care measures for our Carers and staff.

Here’s what we’re doing to ensure the mental health of our staff, so our Clients remain in safe hands:

  • We have created a private Facebook group for Carers and office staff to connect.
  • Our leaders have conducted Facebook live streams to connect with Carers and answer questions on COVID-19. Included in these sessions were questions about how to look after your mental health and how to be mindful. We’ve also given suggestions on how Carers can deal with tough situations to make sure they’re looked after and are comfortable continuing services.
  • We’ve had complimentary mindfulness sessions for all Afea staff via Zoom.

In this time of uncertainty, we all must do our best to take all the necessary COVID-19 precautions and look out for each other.

Get in touch if you would like safe support from Afea Care Services.

For more information about updates, training, alerts, and resources for NDIS participants and providers, visit their website.

NDIS funds can now be used to pay for PPE

The NDIA has announced another update to the Price Guide to offer more flexibility and protection to its participants. From now until September, participants can claim up to $50 from their Core Supports funds to pay for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

NDIS participants in NSW and Victoria who receive an average minimum of one hour per day of face-to-face Daily Living supports may be eligible for the new item.

PPE that may be claimed includes face masks, face shields, and gloves however they may only be used within their face-to-face supports. Hand sanitiser and protective equipment for the use of participants outside of their homes and services are considered to be a personal expense and will not be reimbursed by the NDIS.

What this means for participants

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 breakout, many NDIS participants have put their non-essential services on hold to avoid risk of infection. Even ‘non-essential’ services have an impact on people with a disability. Clients should feel safe getting the supports they’ve previously received.

People who have services on hold may find themselves with surplus funding. Unfortunately, this could result in a reduction in the amount of funds they’re approved for in their next plan.

This PPE funding update not only provides participants with extra protection and reassurance during tough times. It also allows them to receive the supports they need and continue to do so in their next plans.

How to claim PPE expenses

Plan and Agency Managed participants

These participants must buy their PPE from registered NDIS providers, such as: Bright Sky and Confidence Club. Participants will need to give the details of their Plan Manager, or the NDIS Portal to the PPE provider so they can receive payment for the goods.

Self-Managed Participants

Participants with Self-Managed plans can buy PPE from any provider and claim the cost (up to $50) against their Core Funding. The process is the same with any other service or goods being claimed whereby they record the transaction and claim reimbursement from the NDIS Portal themselves.

It is important for Self-Managed participants to ensure they have adequate funding to claim costs against.

For more information about the update, visit the NDIS website here.

4 ways to support the elderly during Covid-19

By Esha Oberoi, founder and CEO of Afea Care Services

Founder & CEO
Esha Oberoi

There are now 17 nursing homes across Australia that have had nurses or residents diagnosed with COVID-19.

We know that people over the age of 80 years and those with chronic diseases are the most vulnerable. For over 80’s, approximately 15% of those infected have died. That’s 3 in 20.

We need to be doing absolutely everything we can to protect our most vulnerable at this time.

For elderly persons considering the transition into an aged care home at this time, I would strongly recommend looking at in-home care options until the pandemic passes. Once an illness is caught by one patient within in a residence, the chances of others being infected is very high, as we’ve tragically seen with this virus.

Not everyone in an aged care home needs to be there. Some can manage with daily visits from a carer (support worker). A single carer is undoubtedly safer than a facility full of nurses, allied health professionals and visitors.

Businesses like supermarkets have fortunately been working to protect our most vulnerable through initiatives like a special shopping hour and online deliveries. Neighbours have been coming together to look out for each other and help with essential tasks that may require leaving the house. But everyone needs to do their part to protect those in need.

When people refuse to take this seriously and continue socialising in groups against the advice of the government, they are thinking of themselves only and the disruptions to their own life – not the very real threat their actions pose to those most at risk.

One of the biggest challenges for the aged care sector now will also be managing loneliness in the months ahead, which is already a major issue. Day trips for routine socialisation in groups have been cancelled, so we need to look to technology and one-on-one carers to provide emotional support and socialisation during this time. 

Like every healthcare business, this is a challenging period for us, but we are looking at ways we can help our clients and carers stay connected in the comfort and safety of their homes. Our employees are our family and we are doing everything in our power to maintain the jobs of our 500+ staff, while keeping them connected with the aged and disability care clients they have been carefully matched with based on factors like languages spoken, personal interests and so on.

We’ve introduced a number of new health and safety measures, as well as offering support from afar in the form of video-enabled connection with our care clients.

Here are 4 ways we can all support the elderly through this pandemic:

1. Stay home

The more of us that remain in our homes instead of out unnecessarily, the faster we can contain this virus and return to normality.

2. Offer your neighbours help – from a distance

Many aged and disability care clients need help to do grocery shopping and other tasks. Reach out to your neighbours and see if anyone needs help.

3. Have an emergency plan in place for if main support person falls ill

This should detail medications, tasks requiring support, emergency contact numbers and so on. If the client is with Afea we will have this detailed in our notes for a handover.

4. Ensure any support people are taking additional safety measures

Our carers will all receive an influenza vaccine, complete an online learning module on safe hygiene specific to coronavirus, wear additional personal protective equipment and will not be permitted to work if they exhibit any cold or flu like symptoms or have come into contact with anyone returning from overseas. Check that your carers are doing the same.

What’s it like to work from home and home school?

Meet Ammee who is juggling both

There has been a lot of news coverage of the situation many concerned parents find themselves in, or about to be in. However, juggling full-time work and home schooling  children isn’t all bad says Afea Care Coordinator Ammee, who is enjoying the extra time with her family.

“I’ve been working from home for nearly a month, and we work on a roster of one week in the office, one week at home. I feel I am more productive when I work from home, I am more relaxed because I have stopped chanting my daily mantra “Hurry up! Get moving! I need to catch the metro in time!”

I can move freely in the apartment and choose to either work from the dining table, kitchen benchtop or my daughter’s favourite study table. I also get a shoulder massage, which is very rewarding. The best thing about working from home is that I am physically and mentally present for my children during a time when they need to feel a sense of security.

There are some challenges of working from home though, I miss my work family, the laughter and the chit chats! Having to juggle work and being part of the home-schooling journey with my kids is also a challenge. I was never an ‘A’ student during my school days so having to teach my two children at home has been difficult.

I am lucky my children are 10 and 14 so are at an age where they understand the restrictions and are compliant with it. The present situation makes them nervous as well, so they are happy to follow the rules.

Although they are happy to be at home most of the time, they do miss their friends and being outdoors. The only reason they miss school itself is because there is less class work compared to home schooling, and of course, they don’t get allocated chores by me when they’re at school.

The first week very tricky as we were all getting used to the concept. However, my children connect with their friends and keep in contact with their teachers via email to stay on track, this helps me focus on my work.

We now have a routine that we’re starting to settle into, I am up before the kids and I use this peaceful time to meditate. Once the children get up and we all prepare and have breakfast.  After we are ready, I log into my work and the children get on with their online schooling. We break for lunch and enjoy a meal together and catch up on school chats and facetime with my sister (who was in isolation for 14 days). Back to work again till 5pm.

After work, I facetime with my sister in the evening. Some days, the children and I will play basketball on the mini hoop that we have in the apartment or play board games, some evenings we go for a walk, ride a bike/scooter/skateboard, other evenings we exercise our facial muscles by arguing with each other! After dinner is cooked, we eat our meal together, relax in front of the TV and practice the last pose of yoga, Savasana (lying down) for a fair few hours.

Looking after myself is important for my whole family, so I have a few strategies. First and foremost, I stay away from people. I catch up on sleep and allow myself to slow down, which has been a big reward. I have started practicing yoga after a very long time which I am thoroughly loving!

My tips to other parents in my position: embrace each day as it comes, keep affirming, I CAN DO IT and ALL IS WELL! Don’t overly concern yourself with what is going on in the news and the rest of the world, try to focus on your present situation to maintain your sanity!”

We’re all affected in one way or another by the COVID-19 pandemic. Without forgetting the tragic loss of life that has resulted, it is a good opportunity for us all to find comfort in the things closest to us. Our families, our friends, the roof over our heads; the time we now have to think about what is truly important in life, and how we can change our world for the better, from the inside out.

How can NDIS and HCP funding help people during COVID-19 lockdown?

The core purpose of both the NDIS and Home Care Packages is to help people achieve their goals and live independently. During a pandemic such as we are experiencing now with COVID-19, where people are restricted to their homes and have limited to no interactions with others, it can be difficult for people to maintain health and quality of life.

The wellbeing of our clientele is just as important as their physical health. That is why we are continuing all current in-home services, as well as revolutionising the way we provide basic supports to our clients. 

We’ve put together some ways of putting funding from NDIS and Home Care Package to use to maintain positive mental and physical health during this time.

Shopping

Buying groceries has been a challenge for everyone during this time due to panic buying. The crowds that have been observed in grocery stores pose a risk to everyone, but especially those in the community who are already vulnerable. Luckily, there are a number of options available to the elderly and people with a disability to get groceries.

Shopping by List

An Afea Carer can take a shopping list created by the client or their family, shop for them, bring the goods back and pack them away. Meal preparation can be added to this service so clients need not worry about making meals themselves. 

Shopping Assistance

Shopping Assistance

This has always been a common service for us, and that hasn’t changed. However, what has is that large supermarkets have dedicated hours for vulnerable people, and we can help clients get there during those times to avoid crowds and have first pick of stock.

Online Shopping Assistance

Our Afea Carers can assist clients to create a log in and order goods online. At this time, Coles and Woolworths have suspended online shopping, but have promised to roll out priority service for the elderly, people with a disability and people in quarantine soon.

Cleaning and Disinfecting

Afea Carers can provide disinfecting services if clients are worried about the virus being brought into their home by visitors. This can be organised as a daily, weekly, fortnightly, or once off service depending on clients’ circumstances. So clients can continue to receive needed services, we can add personal domestic assistance before and after each regular service to take special precautions.

Remote Services

Loneliness will be one of the biggest challenges we will need to overcome as a society in a world where we cannot see others or interact with the community. Afea is about to roll out remote services so clients can remain social, without any risk of infection. Clients and Carers can talk, watch movies or even play games together without being in the same place.

Connection to Support Networks

As a part of a face-to-face service, Afea Carers can help clients learn to use technologies that will allow them to connect with their support networks. This could be family, friends, counsellors or any other allied health professionals.

Exercise

Although there are restrictions on the amount we’re allowed to go out, and the reasons for it, we are still able to leave the house for exercise in groups of two or less. If a client wishes to get some fresh air and stretch their legs, Carers can accompany them for a walk around the neighbourhood, whilst practicing social distancing.

Regular Services

The supports provided by our Carers are vital to the lives of many, therefore we are not stopping any essential services. In particular, supports such as domestic assistance (cleaning), medication assistance, exercise and personal care are vital to the health of many of our clients and will continue.

We have rolled out COVID-19 training, provided extra Personal Protective Equipment, ordered 5,000 more masks, and are asking Carers and clients to communicate if they are unwell before any service.

Please get in touch if you would like to know more about any of the above on 1300 65 11 33 (option 2) or hello@afea.com.au.