Latest information and Updates
Letter dated: 27 March 2020
Dear Clients, Families and Carers,
I hope you are holding up during these stressful times and all staying home and safe as much as you can.
As you know, things are progressing rapidly as we deal with the fallout of the COVID-19 virus that is gripping the country and world right now. No one is immune from this fallout, including everyone here at MiLife-Victoria.
Although we have done everything we can to keep our doors open and provide group services to those who want and need it, the number of clients that have stopped coming in to us is now around 75%. This, together with further social distancing measures we are expecting to be put into place today and over the weekend, means that from 5pm today and until further notice, all group centre based and ACFE services will close. This has been an incredibly difficult decision I have had to make however, it is in the best interests of everyone’s health and safety that I take this action.
I am very aware that this decision will put many of you under enormous strain and in some cases more strain than you are already experiencing. Therefore, we will be calling every one of you later today and over the weekend to talk about your situation and look at ways of how we can possibly help.
We are in extraordinary times right now and this has been recognised by the NDIA through the recent release where people who do not have Support Coordination in their plans, can now use their core funding to get this service. I have attached this advice in case you have not seen it already.
If this is you, I am urging you to seriously consider this option. As the weeks go on, a Support Coordinator will be a necessary link for you to coordinate urgent supports now or in the future. This support will be necessary in circumstances where you, your person or a family member may get sick, if you cannot get out to buy essential items due to your extended care arrangements or you need a review of your plan as your funding has run down earlier than expected due to needing 1-1 supports that you otherwise would not have had.
MiLife-Victoria is a registered Support Coordination Service and we can offer this service to you if you would like it. Alternatively, if you would like to source another Support Coordination service independent of us, you can certainly do this also. Please let us know and we can forward their details.
When one of my team contact you, they will talk through your home situation now and discuss whether you would like to have Support Coordination and/or 1-1 support for your person at home. One to one support does not necessarily need to be all day or even every day, it may be for a few hours a day, in a week or even a fortnight. One to one support in home could be for engagement of your person in a specific activity (cooking, household skills, games, literacy/numeracy sessions etc), for social interaction or it could be for times where shopping is required, and you cannot take your person that the staff member could come in and be at home during this time. Please have a think about this so you are prepared when you get the call.
In the last week I have had to scale back much of our operations here at MiLife-Victoria to remain viable now and in the future. I want to take this opportunity to explain to you what these measures have been so that you are fully aware of everything humanly possible that we are doing to get through and be able to scale up (if we can) when this is all over.
To date the following has been done;
I am thankful to all those staff who have taken up the opportunity to be seconded to focus, as this will be their lifeline to continued employment until things improve. I am equally thankful to those staffs whom have been flexible to date and have shifted their hours to other days or times through the week. Both actions are a wonderful demonstration of their continued support of clients, families and the organisation during these difficult times.
This is a very stressful time for everyone so please do not hesitate to reach out if you need to talk or are worried about anything. We are in this together and we all need to stay focussed and as positive as best we can.
If you would like to talk to someone or have any questions at all, please do not hesitate to contact any of the following people at any time;
Terri Carroll, CEO on 0413018329
Ross Mackay, CFO on 0423 873 409
Kath Moodie, Pandemic Operations Manager on 0400 332 851
Kate Clipsham, Area Manager on 0432 667 995
Popi Goulas, NDIS Client Administration Manager on 0448 447 225
Ros Tindal, Assets Manager on 0423 873 409
Continue to stay safe and well.
CEO MiLife-Victoria Inc.
New measures to support NDIS participants and providers through COVID-19
The Hon Stuart Robert MPMedia Releases https://ministers.dss.gov.au/media-releases/5661
Additional information on the changes can be found at the NDIA website (see below).
In summary, the changes announced by Minister Robert involve:
- Assistance with Daily Life (excluding Supported Independent Living)
- Assistance with Social and Community Participation)
- Improved Daily Living
Official information sources and additional resources:
NDIA – Responsible for messaging to NDIS participants, people with disability and the general public on disability and Covid-19
NDIS Q&S Commission – Responsible for messaging to service providers on disability and Covid-19
Training module: Infection prevention and control for COVID-19
Provider alerts and communications
Links to government resources
Advice on use of trusted information sources
Commonwealth Department of Health - Responsible for messaging to the general public on Covid-19 (including general information about vulnerable groups)
Commonwealth Department of Social Services - Responsible for messaging to the general public on Covid-19 and financial support from the Commonwealth Government
Priority Assistance for Vulnerable People – Food and groceries
NDIA and NDIS Partners
Previous messages from the CEO
Dear Clients, Families and Carers,
As you know things are rapidly changing with more and more business closures because of the COVID-19 virus. It is expected that in addition to schools, cafes, clubs etc that have closed already, there will be further closures this week (except for essential services).
Please be assured that Disability Services like MiLife-Victoria are classed as essential services and do not fall under the category of schools or higher education. Therefore, we will be doing everything we can to stay open and provide our services in individual support at home, centre based activities and ACFE programs and as best we can, until otherwise told differently.
The COVID-19 virus is not going to go away any time soon. The aim is to flatten the curve so that the hospitals, other medical facilities and their staff are not overwhelmed with infections all at once. Therefore, we know that the situation that we are all in now, will go on for an extended period, likely for weeks and months to come.
Over the last week we have had at least a 45% decrease in attendance of people across all our services. This is largely from people whom live in community residential houses and from those whom have other family members at home that are in the high-risk category (ageing parents, grandparents, other known health and medical conditions). Whilst the decision to not send clients in is completely understandable, it has impacted us in that we are now having to reduce staff as we do not have the work available for them.
To avoid losing staff, I have been working with my fellow Dknet partner, Gail Foster from focus on a solution to ‘second’ any excess staff that we have, to them. This iniative will be in place before the end of the week and offered to affected staff. This opportunity will not only support focus in their accommodation services (where we know that getting staff was already a challenge) but, it will also help keep MiLife-Victoria staff employed (rather than stood down) during these difficult times.
The balancing act we have with this secondment initiative is that we need to ensure that we continue to have enough staff to deliver our own services too. It is therefore vitally important that you keep us informed of what your intentions are with respect to keeping your person at home now or in the future.
As I said earlier, this situation is going to go on for a very long time and whilst you feel okay now to support your person, this may change in the weeks and months to come. Therefore, if you have decided to keep your person home now but in time you do feel the need for a break, please do not hesitate to call us so we can talk through how we can help and reinstate part, or all your persons supports.
Further, please consider what measures you have in place if you are to become sick. This is particularly important for those of you who do not have other family who can step in and support you.
As always, please call if you have any concerns or questions. I will continue to provide updates as often as I can.
Continue to take care.
CEO MiLife-Victoria Inc.
Dear Clients, Families and Carers,
Thank you all very much for your patience and understanding over the last two days. It was terrific news to be able to report yesterday that our staff member was not exposed to the virus and that there is nothing for this person or us to be concerned about.
The time over the last two days was well spent. As reported previously, on Wednesday staff took the day to implement precautionary measures of cleaning all sites and vehicles from top to bottom.
At the full team meeting yesterday, I was able to talk through with to staff not only our pandemic plan and the measures we have implemented thus far, but also what we expect to implement over the coming weeks and months ahead. In addition, it was an opportunity to hear how they were feeling and the fears they have for their families and loved ones as well as their jobs now and in the future.
I was able to reassure staff that MiLife-Victoria along with other Disability Services, have been classified as an essential service and as such we are and will continue to provide supports to people for as long as we possibly can, albeit in a modified fashion.
It is important that all clients, families and carers understand this too. We want to stay open and continue to provide supports to those who want and so desperately need them. The COVID-19 virus and its impacts will be with us for many months to come so, we all need to be prepared for this. We need to pace ourselves, do exactly what we are being recommended to do in relation to social distancing, washing our hands frequently and before and after eating or using the toilet and not touch our faces wherever possible. This is a time where if we have an itch, we must avoid scratching it!
As an essential service, this means that you can and wherever possible should continue to send your person (provided they are well and have not been in contact with a person who has contracted the virus) to MiLife- Victoria. To reassure you that this is safe to do so, I want to explain the things we have and will continue to do, to provide a safe environment for your person.
Staff only working at one site – no cross contamination with sites
All staff and clients have been separated into smaller groups across 5 of our facilities, Cranbourne, Culburra, Langwarrin A, Langwarrin B and Frankston. No client or staff member will be able to access any other site until further notice.
Transport has been segregated too. All transport goes directly from home to the site and there are no drop offs to other sites whereas previously this occurred. Those who came in taxi’s together and were being dropped off to different sites have been separated too and now come in separate taxis to and from their own site.
These actions are to prevent any opportunity for cross infection. It also means that if there is an infection, not all the sites will need to close as we had to on Wednesday. The blessing of having facilities like we do allows for even better separation.
Staff instructed on extreme measures for infection control
All staff are aware of the standard infection control procedures and follow these on a daily basis. However, in light of the coronavirus we have stepped up our response by doing the following;
1. All staff across the organisation have been instructed to complete an online course for infection control prevention.
2. We have also spoken to our cleaner and arranged for additional deep cleans across the sites during the week. This is in addition to rosters being created for staff during the day to clean (with disinfectant) before, during and after activities. This cleaning involves surfaces, door handles, glass, window sills and any equipment that is used.
We have sufficient supplies for now and are in constant contact with our supplier for this to be maintained. We are buying from other major stores any additional supplies that we need and can get hold of. I am also in discussions with other community providers to potentially buy their excess supplies as they have been closed until further notice.
No visitors or outside consultants will enter centres
The centres are closed to all outside visitors and only staff and clients of MiLife-Victoria will have access. This means that there will be no therapists of any types allowed to come on site to meet with clients. Behaviour Support professionals will be able to hold phone meetings with staff however, they too will not be able to come on site.
The only exception to this will be contractors whom may need to access a site such as an electrician plumber etc if there is a major problem that urgently needs fixing. If any contractor is needed we will be restricting their contact to the site to out of hours wherever possible and ensuring that they too are well and following all protocols for infection control.
Spaces for people to go if feeling unwell
As the centres will have people within them and everyone will be spread out as much as possible, we have identified the non-transport vehicles (i.e. those that were used for Community Access) to be the place where staff will take and support a person if they show symptoms or are feeling unwell.
In the event that a person does present with symptoms at any time during the day, they will be taken by a staff member to a dedicated vehicle to sit quietly and comfortably and immediate arrangements will be made to transport the person home.
Following this, the site will be closed, all families contacted in person, the site and the vehicle will be deep cleaned and all people in contact at that site will be required to self-isolate for as long as advised.
Programs and activities
I will reiterate again that we have a wonderful staff group at MiLife-Victoria whom are all motivated to keep the services going. They have bought to the table some fantastic and innovative ideas to ensure people have fun and are engaged in activities whilst being totally centre based.
The teams have been collaborating on pulling together a new program of activities for clients (with the exception of Frankston which will run their modified ACFE timetable). The Managers will be emailing the modified timetables for each site to you by the end of the day so please keep a look out for this.
There will be modifications to the timetables needed to be made on any given day to reflect absences of both staff and clients however, hopefully these will be minimal and all activities that have been planned will go ahead.
I would like to reiterate that you can have the confidence that your person will be safe and well cared for and that all precautions are in place for minimal contact of the virus. I absolutely understand peoples need and desire to keep their person and other loved ones safe and this may involve keeping them at home however, we have been classified as an essential service and as such we are staying open. The Government recognises that families and carers still need to work and/or need to have a break and wherever possible you should continue to send your person in. The COVID-19 virus is going to be with us for a very long time and everyone at MiLife-Victoria wants and to take care of you and your person during these trying times.
I hope this update provides you with the necessary information to feel confident that we have good plans in place and that we can continue to provide the support to your person during this pandemic crisis. If you would like to talk to me further about any of the content in this update, talk through your concerns or need other assistance, please do not hesitate to call.
I hope you all have a great weekend
CEO MiLife-Victoria Inc.
Dear Clients, Families and Carers,
I have just received some wonderful news that our MiLife-Victoria staff member that I wrote you about the other day, has confirmed with us that they have NOT been in contact with a person suspected of having the COVID-19 virus. The person that was showing symptoms has been tested and the results have come back negative! This is fantastic news for the person and our staff member.
We will be resuming centre-based activities tomorrow and everyone is looking forward to getting on with our ‘new normal’.
As always, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call me.
Until my next update, take care.
CEO MiLife-Victoria Inc.
Dear Clients, Parents and Carers,
I have received advice today that a MiLife-Victoria staff member may have been in contact with a person suspected of having the COVID-19 virus. The person is currently undergoing testing however, the MiLifeVictoria staff member is showing no signs of being symptomatic and although cannot be tested for the virus, they are self-isolating as per the Department of Health protocols.
As a precautionary measure, and because we cannot guarantee that contact across all clients and sites has not been made with the staff member, we are closing all sites and transport down tomorrow to conduct a deep clean of not just the site at which the staff member worked, but of all sites.
As already reported, we are closing on Thursday to meet with all staff and this will still go ahead. Therefore, there will be no centre-based activities tomorrow or Thursday. I expect that we will resume our ‘’new’’ normal activities at the centres from Friday.
I have enclosed a very handy self-assessment summary from the Department of Health and Human Services for your information and guidance. The summary is what we will be following to the letter with regards to any reported contact with the virus.
From Friday we will have all clients allocated to specific sites/buildings, transport will be direct to and from those site/buildings and staff will be allocated to one place to work and will not work across sites. Doing this will ensure that if there is a risk of infection and quarantine, only one group will be affected, not the entire organisation.
I am very sorry that this is late notice and will cause many of you some difficulty and if there was any other option I would take it but, there isn’t. We must take these precautionary measures now so that we can successfully resume activities on Friday.
I will provide a further update once I have received it from the impacted staff member however, in the meantime if you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact myself, Ross Mackay or any of the Managers on 97757333 or my mobile 0413 018 329.
Pandemic Plan update
Dear Clients, Parents and Carers,
I am writing to provide a further update to our planning regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.
Before I do though, I would like to apologise for some information that I distributed in my letter on Sunday. I, like so many others fell victim to believing and forwarding on information that was incorrect. In situations like these, it is natural to look to anything that may help us stay safe and prevent getting the virus however, sadly some take the opportunity to provide the wrong information. This then means that well intentioned people like me are fooled into believing it and pass it on. Please disregard the last page of my letter and from this point forward I will only pass on information from the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission, Every Australian Counts Campaign and of course The Department of Health.
Now to what we are doing internally.
Yesterday we bought forward the date to cease all Community Activities. This will mean that activities that involve using a community facility or where community members gather, we will not go to.
There have been numerous questions come in about walks and trips around the block, to parks and gardens. In some circumstances these will be allowed however, these trips will be restricted to only those people who really need to get out for walks and time away from the larger group. Where these trips do occur, they will be staggered and limited in time to avoid potential exposure to others who may also be frequenting these places too.
The Management team are meeting again today to fully discuss our staged approach and to work through any issues identified for individuals, transport and programs in general. I will be addressing the entire team on Thursday to work through the plan with them and to address any concerns they may have as they continue to work face to face with people. Following this, I will be meeting with the Board on Thursday evening to hold discussions about our next steps should the situation get worse and they will continue to meet weekly until such as time as the pandemic has flattened and the crisis is under control.
As I indicated in my letter over the weekend, we will be doing everything in our power to remain open and keep activities going for as long as we possibly can. It will not be business as usual but, you can be assured the care and dedication to your person that we provided prior to the pandemic outbreak, will be the same care and dedication we will provide through it. We have a fabulous team at MiLife-Victoria and everyone is committed to continuing to provide support to clients in the safest way possible.
Please do not hesitate to call or contact me at the office if you would like to talk through in more detail any part of our plans or decisions we are making along the way. I would like to thank all of those who have taken the time to send us a message of thanks and support, it has been well appreciated and given a lift to all our spirits in these troubling and uncertain times.
For further information and the latest updates on the virus please go to the Department of Health at www.health.gov.au .
A Coronavirus frequently asked questions fact sheet can be accessed at either our website www.milife-victoria.org.au or the Every Australian Counts website at www.everyaustraliancounts.com.au
I hope you have a great day.
Dear Clients, families and carers,
Due to the evolving nature of the COVID-19 virus outbreak and measures imposed by the Government to minimize the spread, we have determined that we need to bring forward our plans to cease running activities within the community.
This means that from tomorrow and until further notice, we will no longer be providing group or individual supports in the community. As previously advised, all clients will be offered alternative activities at our centres at our Langwarrin, Cranbourne, Culburra and Frankston.
We will continue to keep you up to date and informed as to what the next steps are, but as you can imagine, we are all are facing some unprecedented and challenging times ahead as we all do our best to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
If you have any questions or queries in relation to this letter please don’t hesitate to call the office and ask to speak with either myself or Ross Mackay, MiLife-Victoria’s CFO or any of the Area Managers.
Dear Clients, families and carers,
The Corona Virus (COVID-19) is now considered a pandemic with the incidences of contraction and casualties increasing not just across the world, but now in Victoria.
In order to ensure the health and safety of our clients and staff, we have responded with our own Pandemic Plan that outlines the steps we are taking to minimise the risk of spread.
The rate at which the virus is spreading means that we are already at Stage 4 of our own pandemic plan, now that there are confirmed cases in Victoria. As part of our response, we have no option but to consider altering supports and implementing some service closures.
The Quality and Risk Committee has met several times over the last week to determine what essential services will be maintained and what services will need to cease until further notice.
We have identified our essential services to be;
• Those supports provided to our clients receiving in-home support where that support is essential for their survival;
• Our finance and client administration support to ensure we’re able to respond to the commercial challenges the virus will bring with it;
• Our IT infrastructure to support the likelihood of staff having to work from home or other virus-free location;
• Our communications support to ensure we’re able to keep everyone up to date with the latest news – particularly in relation to the virus and our services. Public Relations (communications, media management, staff management and volunteer recruitment etc).
In terms of managing closure of services, we will implement the following phases as and when required;
1. Services that will be considered first for closure will be:
• Group and Individual Support in Community
• Individual Support clients receiving support at home if there is a risk that they have contracted the virus
2. Services that would be considered second for closure will be:
• Our Specialised Transport Service to and from our Learning Centres
• Affected Centre Based services (including ABC weekends)
3. Services that would be considered third for closure are:
• Support Coordination and non-essential administration staff (all to be redeployed)
In line with the response of the State Government and larger Institutions, from Monday 23rd of March, we will be implementing closure of the first group of services.
From this date we will not be running any group or individual community activities or support. In addition, where an individual support person still receiving support in the home and presents as unwell or infected with the virus, supports will cease. All clients receiving Individual Support will be contacted directly next week to discuss changes (if any) to their supports.
Whilst I am fully aware that this will impact a number of individuals and families, we will be running additional activities at our Centres for those people this closure impacts. Wherever possible, if we can provide the support and avoid people having to stay home, we will.
We have capacity across our facilities to accommodate more centre based group activities. The Langwarrin and Culburra clients will continue to use Langwarrin A and B for their activities, and Cranbourne activities will be spread between our Cranbourne and Culburra sites. ACFE groups and some local community group activities will use our Frankston site in Young Street.
We will continue to run our Transport and Centre Based activities for as long as we can unless otherwise advised by the relevant Commonwealth and State Departments or in the case of an outbreak at one of the Centres, we will be forced to close.
Our goal is to continue to provide services to as many people as best we can. As you know we are already challenged with attracting and retaining enough staff for our normal service delivery and the pandemic will make this even more difficult. Given this, there is likely to be further changes and modifications to groups and activities with very short notice. I hope you will understand and be patient with us when this occurs.
Controlling the risk of infection is a responsibility we all share. We are doing our bit, and looking for your assistance as well. We need you to follow some very basic guidelines.
Avoiding events or places where crowds gather and present a high risk of you or your person contracting the virus;
Supporting your person to understand and practice good hygiene habits by reminding or helping them to wash their hands prior to and after eating or going to the toilet;
Using a tissue or the crook of their elbow to cough or sneeze in, disposing the tissue immediately and washing their hands again;
Most importantly, if your person is not well or if they have come in contact with a person who has the virus, they will need to stay home until they have been cleared to return.
It is vitally important that if you and/or your person have travelled to or through any of the nominated affected countries over the last two weeks, that you do not send your person to MiLife-Victoria for a further 2 weeks.
It is also vitally important that we understand you and your family’s future travel plans as this may affect attendance back at MiLife-Victoria for your person.
In order to communicate our plans to staff and have time to develop new centre-based programs to replace current community programs for those who need it, all services (other than those who require it for survival) will close for one day, being next Thursday 19th of March.
Updates will be provided on our Social Media platforms and all-important resources related to the virus and it’s impacts on MiLife-Victoria will be added to our website at www.milife-victoria.org.au
I apologise for any inconvenience that this may cause, I hope you understand that it is a necessity.
In closing, I have including some information below that I received from a colleague which I think is useful for all of us to know. The source is an academic whom has spent a great deal of time researching how to manage and understand the virus.
If you have any questions please do not hesitate to call the office and speak to either myself, Ross Mackay, MiLife-Victoria’s CFO or any of the Area Managers.