As we approach the end of the week, we provide an update of our ongoing efforts to keep clients safe during this period of uncertainty across the community.
We continue to draw on our Covid Preparedness Plan within an environment that changes almost daily. As we are advised of new Directives issued under the Emergency Management Act and SA Health guidelines we adapt to comply with all Health and other regulator requirements.
Despite the ever-present threat of the virus and this week’s hot weather, it has been pleasing to see clients out and about as much as they, their families and Minda, feel is safe for their health and welfare.
While much of the community seems to be remaining indoors, it is very pleasing to see clients enjoying our beautiful grounds at the Brighton campus, being supported by a staff member wearing full personal protective equipment. It’s a visual reminder that our staff are prepared to endure the discomfort of wearing PPE on a hot summer’s day so a client can enjoy a walk, fresh air, and maintain some sort of normal routine.
We continue to experience staffing challenges just like all other disability, aged and healthcare providers. That challenge is also affecting supermarket supply chains and businesses right across the community. In line with SA Health guidelines, we have welcomed back staff after isolating because they were a close contact of someone with the virus. A number of staff have also returned after recovering from the virus.
As we see people return to work, others leave because of isolation requirements – creating a cycle that we continue to manage. This has meant allocating staff to backfill shift vacancies in houses they would not normally work in. Thanks to those families who understand that staffing pressure and show compassion to staff as they work to understand your loved one’s specific needs.
Rapid Antigen Testing (RAT)
Current SA Health guidelines require staff to undergo RAT 3 times each week prior to commencement of their shifts. While supply difficulties of RATs are a sector-wide issue, we have pre-paid a very large shipment and are working with suppliers to secure an ongoing supply. We are also in discussions with SA Health about securing additional government-supplied stock.
All staff, including non-client facing staff, are required to temperature check prior to commencing work and are automatically excluded from the site if their temperature is high.
If you can source a supply of RATs, it is worth keeping one or two at home so you can have a test before you come to visit your loved one for added peace of mind.
Minda staff continue to wear full PPE when supporting clients. Full PPE consists of a D95 facemask, face shield (or reusable goggles), gown and gloves. Wearing PPE is a proven first line of defence when it comes to avoiding spread of the virus and our teams have been trained on correct PPE use.
Galway care centre
Although hospitalisation numbers grow around Australia, with a particularly higher ratio of unvaccinated patients, that has not been our experience. No Covid+ clients or staff have needed to be hospitalised other than for short observation and have returned and are being supported by us. Early in the outbreak one young man was hospitalised for a couple of days as a precaution and, in line with Government protocol, he has now returned home. We also have access to SA Health’s mobile medical assessment team should we be concerned about a client’s health needs.
Over the last few weeks, a small number of Covid+ clients temporarily moved into Galway and our extensive efforts to prepare this accommodation option that enables positive clients living with others who are negative to still be supported by us, has proven to be a big success. As people progressively move through their isolation period, they have now been able to return home. As we previously advised, we have an SA Health exemption for Covid+ staff who don’t have symptoms to support clients who also have Covid. Staff wear full PPE at all times, travel directly to and from home and can only support clients who have the virus. These staff do not share meal rooms during their shift. We advise families of this support approach should their loved one need to relocate to Galway for a period because they have tested positive for Covid.
Our contact tracing team continues to also work hard. This has proven to be a critical approach to our infection control response and something that most other disability providers have not been able to do at the same level because they don’t have our skills or resources. We can quickly identify clients exposed to the virus and put monitoring and testing measures in place to keep them safe.
In fact, SA Health representatives have been keen to better understand our contact tracing and infection control and were highly impressed at the integrity of our systems and management. Being recognised as setting the gold standard and having our approach recommended to others as the benchmark is pleasing.
Thank you again for your support and we hope you all stay well.