Welcome to Melba Support Services   Click to listen highlighted text! Welcome to Melba Support Services

Coronavirus (COVID-19) FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

How is Melba keeping people supported safe?

Melba Support Services is committed to ensuring the safety and wellbeing of the people we support, our staff, and others who visit our sites and services. We are closely monitoring information and advice, about the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic, provided from various authoritative sources, including the World Health Organisation, the Australian and Victorian state health authorities, and have taken several steps to ensure that everyone at Melba remains safe and experiences the best possible health.

Melba has established a Pandemic Operational Unit to oversee implementation of our pandemic plan. We have well established occupational health and safety policies and procedures that we use to protect the people we support from infection, particularly illnesses like COVID-19. Melba also has strong infection control mechanisms and staff are specifically trained in infection control and will be supported to ensure adherence to all infection control directions. Any enquiries from staff about infection control or personal hygiene can be directed to our Practice Support Line, which operates on a 24/7 basis.

As you may be aware, Melba employs two health outcome specialists who are already playing a very helpful role. Advice prepared by our health outcome specialists has been distributed to staff reinforcing key infection control messages, including:

  • The importance of following and supporting all people to practice good personal hygiene and coughing/sneezing etiquette, such as frequently washing hands with soap and water and using alcohol-based hand sanitisers.
  • Increased focus on regularly cleaning and disinfecting surfaces in each home.
  • Practicing social distancing, such as supporting people to stay at home and self-isolate if they are unwell, avoiding non-essential visits and meetings at service locations wherever possible, and keeping 1.5 metre distance between people, whenever possible.

In providing support to people, there is often a need for support which involves person to person contact, for example, support with meals and drinks or to get dressed. In these circumstances, our staff have been trained to use gloves and ensure that they follow good hand washing practices before and after supporting people that require person to person contact. Staff will limit other person to person contact with supported people, for example, they will not shake hands. Melba staff will guide and encourage people supported as much as possible to minimise touching other people during this period.

As well as all the above, we always ensure that people are supported at the earliest opportunity to access their treating general practitioner (GP) if they are unwell and staff follow the treating GP’s medical advice to ensure best possible health for each person supported in Melba’s SIL services.

Will Melba ensure people supported access medical assistance if they are unwell?

Yes. Melba is committed to ensuring the best possible health of people we support. Our procedures ensure that an individual is always supported to access medical assistance when required, and we continue to do this as we usually do.

We are also monitoring and will follow guidelines from the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services as to the best way to support a person to access a medical professional if a person supported show symptoms of COVID-19.

Will Melba have enough supplies of essential items?

Yes. Melba has plans in place to maintain essential supplies at each of our group homes. Our current approach is:

  • To ensure that each group home has enough essential supplies. We have allocated additional funding so that each group home has access to necessary funds to purchase these supplies, and we are supporting people to access supplies through the dedicated shopping hour that is being offered by supermarkets. We continue to enable the people we support to choose their supplies and will do so for as long as possible in the current climate.
  • To ensure that individuals we support have a good supply of any prescribed medications that they use.

We are also continually sourcing essential infection control supplies, including personal protective equipment, disinfectant, hand soap and alcohol-based hand rub.

What if my family member has been told that they need to self-isolate, how will Melba support them?

In supported independent living (SIL), including group homes, if a person supported has been told that they need to self-isolate they will be supported to do so either in their bedroom at the group home, at another purposefully set up Melba service location if possible or with family members if that is preferred.

People will be supported to understand why they need to remain in isolation and why certain personal protective equipment is required to be used. They will also be supported to engage in activities of interest while they are in isolation.

Do all people supported/staff/visitors need to wear a mask?

No. Current advice from the World Health Organisation, Australian government and state health departments, is that wearing a mask is only helpful if the person who is unwell wears the mask themselves. Therefore, at this stage we do not require people who are well to wear masks. We are continually monitoring best practice advice in relation to this and will update our practices if this advice changes.

What happens if Melba’s support workers get sick or need to self-isolate?

Melba’s priority is to ensure that the people who purchase services from us, receive the support they need.

We are continually training staff and, if needed, we will ask them to work at other services. This will enable us to continue to cater for the needs of all people that we support.

Will all of Melba’s services be maintained?

No. We are closing some services to ensure we can continue to support the most vulnerable people we support.

Social distancing is an important part of the health strategy to slow the community spread of COVID-19. To give effect to the social distancing requirements, Melba has made the decision to make the most vulnerable people we support our first priority – for example, the individuals who require our support for critical daily living activities such as getting out of bed, eating, and using the bathroom and who have no other family supports. This, of course, includes the individuals who receive our essential services in group homes and our other Supported Independent Living services. Melba is therefore not considering stopping any Supported Independent Living Services during this period.

As the number of people with COVID-19 grows, we are also very mindful of the increased risk to people we support and our staff that results from having larger numbers of people at our service sites. We have therefore, made the decision to close some of our other support services for at least the duration of the state of emergency that has been declared in Victoria, including our Community Connections Services and our Arthur Creative program. Respite bookings will be cancelled to ensure that our respite services are available for the most vulnerable people we support who have no family or informal support. Individual support arrangements will be reviewed on an individual basis.

Melba staff and management will work closely with the people we support, families and other nominated representatives during this time to provide as much information as possible about these closures.

How will Melba keep you informed?

The situation and information are changing frequently, and Melba is committed to keeping the people we support, families or other nominated supporters informed as further information becomes available.

Any decisions taken that have the potential to impact you, our staff or other stakeholders will be communicated at the earliest opportunity. While Melba will email all important information to you, we will also provide important information and updates on our website. Melba’s communication team are available and committed to advising all concerned of any relevant developments in our response to the COVID-19 virus.

If Melba does not have your current email address, please send to melba@melbasupport.com.au with a request we use your email address to get you informed.

I still have a question, who do I contact?

If you still have a question about Melba’s response to COVID-19, please call our dedicated pandemic hotline. The hotline number is 1300 MYMELBA (1300 696352). It is currently available during business hours, but its operating times will be extended as necessary. You can, of course, also contact the General Manager Outcomes in your area. Our four GMOs are:

GMO Central Highlands & Wimmera, Rachael Jones (rachael.jones@melbasupport.com.au)

GMO East, Aaron Fry (aaron.fry@melbasupport.com.au)

Acting GMO Gippsland, Christina Melrose (christina.melrose@melbasupport.com.au)

GMO South, Angela Quero (angela.quero@melbasupport.com.au)

Can I visit my family member or friend who lives in a Melba supported home?

If it is not essential that you visit, it is preferable that you don’t visit. While we value that people supported remain connected to their social networks, particularly during times such as this, we also understand the importance of social distance.

All Victorians, including people supported, family and friends, are subject to the Stay at Home Directions. We will therefore 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 for all visits. In accordance with the most recent directive from the Deputy Chief Health Officer for care facilities (including disability residential services), a supported person may only have one care and support visit from a family member or friend each day, with no more than two persons and for no longer than two hours.

If the weather is fine, we will support your family member to meet with you in a suitable outdoor space of their Melba Supported home. If the weather is inclement, we will support you to meet with your family member in the front most lounge room, or the person’s bedroom if no such lounge room is available. We will ask you to follow strict infection control measures, including hand washing and/or the use of hand sanitiser, and to maintain a distance of 1.5 meters from your family member during the visit.

If you or the family member/s or friend/s intending to visit, you will be asked if you:

· Have recently returned to Australia from overseas in the preceding 14 days, or

· Have been in contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 (coronavirus) in the last 14 days, or

· Have been tested for or are suspected of having COVID-19, or

· Are unwell with a fever or symptoms of COVID-19 (particularly shortness of breath, cough or sore throat).

You are not allowed to visit your family member until your self-isolation period has ended or until you are well (as relevant).

If any person supported in our service is unwell, we may ask you not to visit. We will update you if this needs to happen.

Can people living in a Melba supported home still go out and about?

In line with authoritative guidelines, Melba is supporting people to stay at home wherever possible, except to support people to exercise and participate in some recreational activities (adhering to community wide restrictions, to attend a medical appointment, to visit friends, family and loved ones, and/or to purchase essential supplies (where a person wants to be involved in this activity and is not in a high-risk category).

Can my family member visit or come stay with me for a period of time and then return to their Melba supported home?

Melba is promoting and practicing all social distancing requirements advised for the community, and disability services specifically, by the Victorian Chief Health Officer and the Department of Health and Human Services.

In keeping with the Victorian ‘Stay at Home Directions’, people supported are required to remain at home as much as possible and avoid all unnecessary transport and excursions. This includes ceasing nonessential activities in the community and all daytime activities (including day programs where physical distancing cannot be maintained).

As at midnight on 12 May 2020, people supported can leave their Melba supported home to visit friends, family and loved ones, if it is essential for them to do so for their own and other’s health, wellbeing and social connection.

For the purposes of the Victorian Stay at Home Directions, a person’s Melba supported home is considered that person’s normal place of residence. If a person is temporarily away from their Melba supported home, they should not return if they have clinical symptoms of COVID-19 (including any new fever, chills or breathing problems, specifically cough, sore throat or shortness of breath). These clinical symptoms are the clinical criteria for testing and people supported should be tested for COVID-19 if they have these symptoms.

People supported who have been notified by the Department of Health and Human Services that they are a close contact of a confirmed case should also not return to their Melba Supported Home anytime during their 14-day isolation period.

To keep all people living at the Melba supported home safe, we have implemented specific protocols to be followed where a supported person returns to their Melba supported home after being temporarily away visiting family or friends, either for a short visit or overnight stays. Staff will inform you of the protocol when you contact us to arrange for your loved one to visit.

Does a staff member need to wear a proper surgical mask?

Most of the time – no. Surgical masks are for sick people – for example, on their way to hospital or to get tested – to stop them coughing the virus onto people around them.

Surgical masks are also to protect staff caring for those people who are genuinely suspected of having COVID-19 or have definitely got COVID- 19. When staff are in close contact with that person, a mask is an important part of their Personal Protective Equipment. This is in addition to frequent, regular, thorough hand washing.

But if everyone is well, routine use of a surgical mask doesn’t protect you from anything and uses a mask we are likely to need when people are sick.

Does Melba have masks available for staff if required?

Yes. There is currently a severe shortage of masks. We are working very hard to source masks from Australian and overseas suppliers and from government, but it is very difficult. But we do have a limited supply for use when people are sick to protect staff, along with other Personal Protective Equipment. These will be made available when needed.

Using our current stocks when they are not needed wastes an important resource that would otherwise help protect staff and people we support when required.

I am a family member of a person supported, what happens if there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 and I want/need to visit?

Providing access to medical care for the people we support, whenever needed is our priority. It is important to note that, as at 13 May 2020, we have not had any confirmed cases of COVID-19.

If a case of COVID-19 was to be confirmed, and a person supported remains under medical advice at a Melba SIL service, then we will implement best practice guidelines in line with the CDNA National Guidelines for the Prevention, Control and Public Health Management of COVID-19 Outbreaks in Residential Care Facilities in Australia (updated 30 April 2020) and the DHHS COVID-19 Plan for the Disability Services Sector (updated 25 April 2020).

People supported, families and nominated supporters will be notified as soon as possible if Melba becomes aware that a person supported or a staff member working directly with people supported within the services your family accesses has been confirmed as having COVID-19. To protect people’s privacy, details about individuals will not be communicated when this occurs.

Can I get home delivery from supermarkets?

Yes. A new initiative was launched on Monday 6 April for NDIS participants to receive priority home delivery during the pandemic from most supermarkets. Every NDIS participant will receive an individual code via SMS or email which will give them access to the priority delivery offer. NDIS participants will be able to receive items home delivered. Supermarkets (Woolworths, Coles, IGA and Foodland IGA and Foodworks) will pick items and prioritise the delivery of orders. See NDIS webpage for more information.

Please note it may take up to one week for priority home delivery access codes to activate on supermarket websites. If an NDIS participant did not receive a code, he/she can contact the National Contact Centre on 1800 800 110 and request a new code.

Who can I call if I am worried and I think I have symptoms?

DHHS Coronavirus 24-hour Hotline number: 1800 675 398

National Coronavirus Helpline 1800 020 080

Nurse On-Call: 1300-606-024

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