Discourage symptomatic visitors, even if they have minimal symptoms. Do this by communicating verbally and by signage, and consider designating a single entrance for anyone entering the facility so they will see the signage and traffic can be monitored.
Anyone, including staff and visitors, who has travelled overseas, disembarked a cruise ship or who has had contact with a confirmed case must not attend the facility for 14 days from the time they returned from overseas, disembarked the cruise or last had contact with a case.
Communication with clients
Providers should utilise existing communication tools and social stories to explain handwashing, and limitations on visitors and outings, for clients who have communication difficulties.
- Encourage everyone who is present in the facility to regularly wash their hands for 20 seconds with soap and water. This means:
- On arrival
- Before physical contact with other people or food, food preparation areas, medicines or medical or assistive technology equipment
- After physical contact with other people or food, food preparation areas, medicines or medical or assistive technology equipment
- On departure
- If alcohol-based hand sanitisers are available, ensure they are placed and used safely
- Consider signage to encourage regular hand hygiene. Refer to COVID-19 resources.
- Put in place systems to monitor symptoms of clients and staff.
- Until further notice, facilities should not permit:
- organised groups attending the facility
- group excursions into the community
- Providers should support clients to maintain physical distancing in the facility and community. This will be difficult for many clients. Suggested approaches include:
- Consider how to support ongoing connection with family and friends through video and phone
- Talk with participants, families and staff to assess what is essential support and what supports are non-essential and can be temporarily suspended
- Consider what other support participants may need at this time e.g. grocery shopping and medication supplies.
- Promote the annual influenza vaccine for clients and staff. More information is available from Department of Health and NSW Health. Residents’ family and friends who visit should also be encouraged to have an annual influenza vaccination.
- Providers should ensure enhanced infection prevention and control procedures are followed at this time. This should include:
- regular cleaning of surfaces especially of key areas such as door handles, taps, television remotes, phones, tablets, light switches and other surfaces including frequently used assistive technology/equipment (e.g. wheelchairs)
- working with residents, families and staff to consider how surfaces can be decluttered to support easy cleaning.
The Clinical Excellence Commission has infection prevention and control guidance available for different settings, including residential care facilities.
Providers should, where possible, reduce staff movements between different facilities. This is particularly important if a confirmed case is residing in isolation within a facility.
Personal protective equipment (PPE)
- NDIS providers and self-managing participants who can no longer access personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies through usual means can contact the National Medical Stockpile by emailing NDISCOVIDPPE@health.gov.au.
- If there is a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 within a facility and PPE stock has been exhausted:
- access to PPE should be sought through the National Medical Stockpile, as above.
- NSW Health may be able to facilitate access to PPE through the State Stockpile to meet the immediate needs for the client diagnosed with COVID-19 where they are to remain within the facility, as well as providing advice on use/rationing to address highest risk activities. Requests should be directed to: MOH-JamesCovid19Support@health.nsw.gov.au.
Due to the nation-wide shortage of PPE, it is critical that it is used wisely and consistently with the evidence. Providers should
- familiarise themselves with the advice on the appropriate use of PPE, available via the Clinical Excellence Commission
- monitor information and Provider Alerts published by the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission
- provide assistance to families or carers on how to access this PPE information.
If the client has fever or symptoms of an acute respiratory illness (sore throat, runny nose, shortness of breath, fatigue or cough), even if mild, request they stay in their room or support them to do so, and seek health advice (from their GP or by calling the National Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080) to exclude COVID-19 as well as to resolve any other health issues.
Provider staff who usually go into facilities should, where possible, consider providing virtual and telehealth support services to participants and staff.
Contact your local Public Health Unit immediately on 1300 066 055 if there is a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 in a resident or staff member.