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Letter dated: 18 May 2020


Dear Clients, Families and Carers,


As you will have all heard there has been a number of restrictions eased in Victoria that came into place last week. People are now able to have more people in their homes, gather outdoors and can participate in some recreation activities such as golf and fishing. However, regardless of the easing of the restrictions, full social distancing and hygiene practices remain in place.

We have been working through what this means for us and what the potential implications of these eased restrictions might have on what we do and the supports we provide. The most immediate issue that comes to mind is that the more contact we have with people, this means a greater risk of coming in contact with the virus and therefore greater risk of contracting it and transmitting it on to clients and their families.

On the positive side, the easing of restrictions may give you more confidence to resume supports and as such we will need staff available to provide this support. To this end, as of Monday, 25 May, all staff whom have been in hibernation will be returning to work.

In light of the increased risks, before we go introducing more face to face programs and activities, we will be implementing some new measures as well as revisiting some old ones starting Monday, 25 May. Such measures are contactless thermometer testing for all staff and clients prior to entry and throughout the day, audit checks for cleaning and maintaining social distancing measures, training and re-training on topics such as infection control, incident reporting, journal notes, just to name a few. Protocols for how the testing will be conducted will be sent out to you all prior to their introduction.

It is vitally important that we all do our very best to make sure we continue to stay safe and avoid putting ourselves in a situation where we could contract the virus and give it to someone else. To this end, I encourage you all if you have not done already so, to download the COVIDSafe app onto your phone.

All staff have strongly been encouraged to get the flu vaccination as I strongly urge you to do also. Every opportunity we can take to keep safe, we must take it.

The following were reminders sent out to staff today as they work with your person. Many are as applicable to you as it is for them;

    1. Wash your hands with soap and water as soon as you enter your workplace and regularly throughout the day. Use hand sanitiser if you cannot use soap and water.

    2. Avoid touching your face

    3. Bring your lunch to work, including cup and utensils

    4. Carry a full spare set of clothes in your car should you need it

    5. Ensure all social distancing measures are followed including encouraging clients to maintain their distance with you and each other

    6. Remove the tea towels from the kitchen and use paper towels

    7. If you have a temperature or are not feeling well, do not come to work

    8. Avoid spending time with people outside of work and where you are doing this, keep to the rules and keep your distance.

The implications of the COVID-19 pandemic are going to be with us for a very long time to come. We are working hard to build back up our programs and activities and as such we must ensure that we continue to keep people safe.

We fully understand our obligations to provide and maintain not only a safe environment for your person but, that we are keeping ourselves safe at all times too. The risks of contracting the virus are going to be much higher now that the restrictions are easing and this means we have to step up our vigilance. We appreciate you continuing to support us and keep up your vigilance too.

I hope you continue to stay safe and well, if you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me.

Kind Regards,


Terri Carroll


CEO MiLife-Victoria Inc.

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Advice for people with disability

The Australian Government Department of Health’s new webpage explains how people with disability can protect themselves from COVID-19, manage their mental health, and access important services like telehealth and prescription medications.

Key points

  • The Department of Health’s new webpage helps people with disability exercise choice and control over their health during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • We encourage you to share the information on this webpage with the NDIS participants you support.
  • We have also developed resources for people with disability, and we continue to share these, and resources developed by the Australian Government, with you and your NDIS participants.

Australian Government Department of Health webpage for people with disability

The Australian Government Department of Health has created a webpage containing COVID-19 advice for people with disability.

The webpage explains how people with disability can protect themselves from COVID-19, including through good hygiene, physical distancing, avoiding public gatherings, isolating if they are sick, and finding safe and alternative ways to get the services they need.

This advice supports and promotes the NDIS principles of empowering people with disability to exercise choice and control.

We strongly encourage you to share this webpage, and the information it contains, with the NDIS participants you support.

NDIS Commission resources for NDIS participants about COVID-19

The NDIS Commission has a COVID-19 webpage containing information for people with disability, and we have issued two fact sheets for NDIS participants about COVID-19.

    1. Our first COVID-19 NDIS participant information fact sheet explains:

    • what to expect from their NDIS providers
    • their rights and how to make a complaint about a provider
    • what resources are available from the NDIA
    • where to find more information and resources about COVID-19.

    2. Our second NDIS participant fact sheet explains what to expect from providers and workers during COVID-19, including some possible changes to the way supports and services are delivered during this time.


Disability Information Hotline

The Disability Information Helpline provides information and referrals for people with disability who need help because of COVID-19. It can also assist families, carers, and support workers.

The helpline is available by calling 1800 643 787. If you are deaf, hard of hearing or have a speech impairment, you can also call the National Relay Service on 133 677. It is available Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm (AEST) and Saturday and Sunday 9am to 7pm (AEST). It is not available on national public holidays.

Further information, alerts and resources

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) information webpage on the NDIS Commission website contains links to updates, training, alerts and other resources. We also have a webpage of frequently asked questions about COVID-19 for all stakeholders.

The Australian Government Department of Health has released a series of posters about COVID-19. You can download, print and pin these up in your premises to encourage your workers, as well as participants, their friends and family to follow simple steps, including practising good hygiene, to help stop the spread.

For More Information

Email: contactcentre@ndiscommission.gov.au Website: www.ndiscommission.gov.au
 
 

 

Previous messages from the CEO

COVID-19 Guidance from the Australian Government Department of Health

The Australian Government Department of Health has published resources to assist NDIS participants, their families, support workers and carers, health professionals, and home care providers who support people with disability.

Key points

  • The Australian Government Department of Health has created a webpage with COVID-19 advice for people with disability.
  • They have also developed ten new fact sheets to assist families of people with disability, support workers and carers, health professionals and home care providers.
  • We encourage you to read and share the relevant resources with the NDIS participants you support, their families and your workers.

Australian Government Department of Health resources

Information for people with disability

In our provider alert on 7 May 2020, we linked to the Australian Government Department of Health’s webpage called COVID-19 advice for people with disability. This webpage explains how people with disability can protect themselves from COVID-19, including through good hygiene, physical distancing, avoiding public gatherings, isolating if they are sick, and finding safe and alternative ways to get the services they need.

The Department of Health has now issued ten new fact sheets to assist families of people with disability, as well as support workers and carers, health professionals and home care providers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Families of a person with intellectual or developmental disability

  • Information for families: information to support families of a person with intellectual or developmental disability during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Support workers and carers

Health professionals

Home care providers

Contact Us

Call: 1800 035 544 (free call from landlines). Our contact centre is open 9.00am to 4.30pm in the NT, 9.00am to 5.00pm in the ACT, NSW, QLD, SA, TAS and VIC Monday to Friday, excluding public holidays.

Email: contactcentre@ndiscommission.gov.au

Website: www.ndiscommission.gov.au

Message from the Disability Services Commissioner - 21 May 2020

From the Commissioner

Thank you to people with disability, family, carers and everyone who has continued to call our office at this time of COVID19 and raise important concerns about the challenges of balancing social distancing and human rights.

This is a challenging time for us all. We know it’s particularly difficult not to visit those you care about or to do all the things you would normally do. Ensuring the health and safety of all Victorians during this period will require care, compassion and cooperation between organisations, and increased communication with people with disability and their support networks. It is vitally important that we continue to work together and adapt our daily lives and practices to minimise risks for all.

Whilst restrictions around some activities have been eased we all need to remain vigilant and not become complacent. The links to the latest DHHS advice are listed below.

DSC is continuing work on our submission to the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability. We encourage everyone to take this opportunity to speak up and be involved in the Royal Commission.

You may be aware but I also wanted to advise you that the Victorian Government has decided to appoint a single person to be both the Disability Services Commissioner and the Mental Health Complaints Commissioner with effect from 1 July 2020. We can expect further information regarding this appointment in the coming month.

From the Deputy Disability Services Commissioner - Samantha Dooley

I have been privileged to be Acting Deputy Commissioner, since October 2019 and I am looking forward to continuing in this role in the months ahead. Having worked at DSC for six years, I am mindful that there is more change than ever in the disability sector, and that makes it an exciting time, as well as a challenging time.

Right now, we are looking at ways to ensure safeguarding and ways for people to speak up are maintained for the duration of the pandemic and beyond. This has helped us think about how we can better support people when we are not able to have face to face meetings and visits. These improvements will make it easier for everyone, particularly people in regional and rural areas to have contact with our office into the future.

DSC is continuing to work with the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission, the agency responsible for complaints about NDIS service providers, and other organisations to ensure anyone who wants to speak up and make a complaint has details of how to do this.

Anyone can make a complaint to DSC about the provision of a disability service by a regulated Victorian disability service provider. Whether you are a person with a disability, a family member or friend of someone with a disability, a staff member, carer, or a member of the community – you have the right to make a complaint.

To make a complaint about a DHHS transfer home or a state funded disability service, or TAC funded service you can contact us on 1800 677 342.

To make a complaint about an NDIS funded service please visit the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission website.

From the Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner

Thank you to disability support workers

The work you do is not always visible but is incredibly important for people with disability and our community.

We want to acknowledge the incredible work you’re doing as frontline service workers, particularly in these challenging times of Covid-19. We know many of you are going above and beyond to provide a safe and supportive environment for all people with disability. We see your efforts, we hear what you are saying, and we are grateful.

We also want to acknowledge the great efforts by many Disability Support organisations for their efforts in maintaining the essential support for people with a disability and their families and in responding to the serious challenges of COVID -19.

Coronavirus Information

The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) provide regular updates about the progress being made to ‘flatten the curve’, as well as information about changes to health polices, news and services.

To stay up to date with the latest information, please look at the information available on the following websites:

dhhs.vic.gov.au/coronavirus

australia.gov.au

health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert

DSS information for people with disability & their supporters

NDIS Coronavirus information

To speak to someone, the National Coronavirus Health Information Line that is open all day every day: 1800 020 080 There is also the COVID-19 Disability Information Helpline 1800 643 787

If you want to limit the amount of coverage but need the key updates about restrictions, a Coronavirus Australia app is available from the  Apple App Store and on  Google Play, and was launched alongside the Government's new  WhatsApp feature.

The WhatsApp account acts like a messenger bot and provides people with updates when they type in a number or emoji. To get information this way, please visit oz.gov.au/whatsapp.

You can also find information about the precautions taken by service providers on their websites, or by calling them.

Letter from CEO - 4 May 2020

Dear Clients, Families and Carers,


I hope my email update finds you all well. It is a strange time that we find ourselves in, settling into what appears to be a new normal. As we all wait for further information on what news there will be regarding lifting (hopefully) of some of the current imposed restrictions, I thought it would be timely to share with you a quick update on what we have planned for this time.

As you are already aware, we have quite a number of online activities occurring both during the day and of a Friday night and apart from a few technical hiccups, these have been well attended. We also have some people back at the Cranbourne and Langwarrin sites, participating in group activities as well as joining some of the online activities too whilst still keeping to the social distancing rules and regular sanitising as required.

There is still capacity to have one or two more groups at Langwarrin without breaking the social distancing rules that are in place now however, I would like to wait just a little longer until after May 11th to hear the announcements and obtain a better understanding of how much we can expand and get people back to activities if they want to.

Regardless of any relaxation of the rules, life today is going to be with us for some time to come and in fact I think that for many, the changes particularly with technology and accessing activities online, will form a big part of their future post the pandemic. For many this new way of doing things has opened up a world where once was thought not possible. Technology allows people independence and gives control in ways that people have never had before which is very exciting.

Whilst we have lots of ideas we would really like to hear if you have any that you would like us to explore to either start up or consider for the future. Please let me know as we are keen to explore all options.

As always, please call if you have any questions or concerns and, in the meantime, I will continue to provide further updates as often as I can.

Continue to take care and be safe.

Kind Regards,


Terri Carroll


CEO MiLife-Victoria Inc.

Letter from CEO - 4 May 2020

Dear Clients, Families and Carers,


The Minister for Health, Greg Hunt and the Chief Medical Officer have just released the COVIDSafe app. This app is designed to help keep you, your family and the community safe from the spread of coronavirus.

The app is designed to track people who may have been exposed to the virus. Which means, if you become diagnosed with coronavirus you won’t have to recall who you have been close to or where you’ve been. The app will help to track those who you have been close to who also may have been exposed to the virus.

This also means that if you are exposed to someone who has coronavirus (and also has the app) you will be alerted so you can then ensure that you don’t infect others.

The app is only for the purpose of tracing contacts during the coronavirus pandemic. It will not be used in any other way, in fact it would be a criminal offence to use it for anything other than what it has been designed for.

At the end of the Australian Pandemic, users will be prompted to delete the app from their phone and all information the app has collected during the pandemic will be destroyed.

The app is completely voluntary however, I would like to encourage everyone to download it so we can ensure a quick response to COVID-19 should an outbreak occur.

How to download the app:

    1. Go to the app store on your phone and type in COVIDsafe

    2. Press “Get” and download the app to your phone

    3. Click through the information and tick “I Consent” to register your consent to the Department of Health collecting your information to allow tracing should you test positive and to contact you if a person you’ve been in contact with who also has the app test positive.

    4. Type in your full name, your age and your postcode.

    5. Make sure you keep your phone with you when you leave home, keep the app running and keep Bluetooth on.


If you’re unsure about this or need help downloading the app please feel free to contact the office and we can talk you through it.

Kind Regards,


Terri Carroll


CEO MiLife-Victoria Inc.

Letter from CEO - 15 April 2020

Dear Clients, Families and Carers,


I hope you all had a lovely Easter break and were spoilt with a visit from the Easter Bunny!

Whilst it has been very difficult to stay at home and follow the government guidelines for social distancing, these measures are working, and it is tremendous to see that the curve has now flattened. We have had a few calls from families asking when we will be returning to running normal programs but unfortunately, there will be no change to our current circumstances until the restrictions for social distancing have eased.

We are doing everything we can to keep in contact and get people engaged back with their friends. To this end the online activities will be underway in the coming days. Kate and Popi are working through the responses we have received so far and are pulling together a timetable that will work for everyone. Several people have been approved to purchase and iPad or Laptop from their NDIS core funding which, once received, they will join in on the fun too. If you want to know more about this, please call us at the office.

From a staffing perspective, we have 8 direct care and 4 administration staff seconded over to focus in the last two weeks. Whilst the shifts for the direct care staff are slow in coming, we are hopeful that this will pick up very soon. Of the admin staff, Katie and Amanda went across a couple of weeks ago and both Alison Lord (Quality and NDIS Administration) and Kath Moodie (Area Manager) went across starting this Tuesday. Both Kath and Alison will be at focus on a month to month basis whereas Katie and Amanda could be there for up to six months.

We have had numerous requests from families to support their person at home in a 1-1 capacity. I am very pleased to say that we have been able to fill these requests with staff whom have not been put into hibernation and remain active workers. If you do not have this arrangement in place and would like to consider it, please call us as we have staff who are only too willing to come in and provide support to people as and when it is required. It is very important to keep people engaged and connected as much as possible particularly during these difficult times.

I will continue to provide updates however, if you have any questions or concerns about anything, please do not hesitate to contact the office and speak to either myself or one of the team.

I hope you all continue to stay safe.

Kind Regards,


Terri Carroll


CEO MiLife-Victoria Inc.

Letter from CEO - 9 April 2020

Dear Clients, Families and Carers,


Last week I advised you that we were considering ways we could interact with each other online. We have created a timetable with a broad range of activities that will allow you to be active, use your mind and engage with others.

If you are interested in participating in these online activities you will need to consider the following:

  • Do you or your person have access to an iPad/ tablet or computer/ laptop?
  • Do you or your person have access to the internet?
  • Can you or your person use your device independently?
  • Does your person require support at home to participate?

  • Attached to this email is a timetable of activities for you and your person's consideration. A Manager will be calling you in the next few days to find out your interest and if so which activities you would like to participate in.

    Please note, all activities will be billed at the NDIS group rate and facilitated by a MiLife-Victoria staff member.

    Please let us know when we call if you do not have the available technology so we can discuss alternative options that may be available.

    Online Activity Descriptions
    MiLife Victoria Online timetable

    Kind Regards,


    Terri Carroll


    CEO MiLife-Victoria Inc.

    Letter from CEO - 3 April 2020

    Dear Clients, Families and Carers,


    I do hope this last week has been not too difficult for you and your loved ones and that you are keeping safe and well during these difficult times.


    While our group programs and services may have ceased, we have been very busy over the last week researching every angle possible to help us keep functioning and commercially viable through this crisis to make sure we are here when this pandemic ends.


    We welcomed the Government’s announcement of the Job Keeper subsidy and are looking at how this applies to our staff. While the incentive will help us financially, the key is to keep staff working and ready and available for when our services pick back up again.


    It has been very pleasing to see several people take up the opportunity to have staff come in to their home and provide supports on a 1-1 basis. This not only engages the person and takes the pressure off family by giving them a necessary break, but it also provides staff with continued work. Please do not hesitate to call us if you would like to implement 1-1 supports in your home as well.


    As we expect that this situation will going on for many weeks and months ahead, we are looking at ways that we can keep people engaged and connected to their friends and staff. We are working on ways that can set up online groups for activities such as music, music and dance, disco/dance parties, movement and gentle exercise and more passive activities such as games, media and current affairs, social chat rooms, book and movie reviews etc. This is just a few of the ideas that we have come up with so far and welcome your input on other ideas that you may have too.


    Obviously, these programs will be reliant on people having technology such as a lap top or tablet device to access these activities. Where this is not available, we have now been advised that it can be purchased using funding from “consumables” in your NDIS plan. If your person does not have consumables in their plan, you can request a review. Your Support Coordinator can assist with this or if you do not have a Support Coordinator, call us as we have this capacity and can work with you to apply for a review.


    We will be sending out a letter early next week to receive expressions of interest for this new online type of support. Based on the interest we receive, we will get the activities up and running as soon as possible. Another option to think about is converting some hours to 1-1 support and have the staff member support your person in home to access the online group if they cannot manage this themselves.


    If you have any questions or ideas, please do not hesitate to contact us at the office. I hope you all have a lovely weekend and continue to stay safe.


    Kind Regards,


    Terri Carroll


    CEO MiLife-Victoria Inc.

    Letter from CEO - 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;


  • 1. Reduction of staff every day to only what is required
  • 2. Starting next week and where possible, secondment of staff to focus for those staffs contracted hours that we cannot fulfil
  • 3. Starting next week secondment of 2 Admin staff to focus (1.4 EFT)
  • 4. Temporary stand down of Admin staff member (.9EFT)
  • 5. Temporary stand down of Rostering Manager (1EFT)
  • 6. Temporary stand down of an Area Manager (1EFT)
  • 7. 100% reduction of wage for the CEO for next 3 months
  • 8. Negotiated reduction of hours of full-time direct staff
  • 9. Reallocation of hours of full-time direct staff to cover ISP shifts

  • 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.


    Regards,


    Terri Carroll


    CEO MiLife-Victoria Inc.

    Letter from CEO - 24 March 2020

    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.


    Regards,


    Terri Carroll


    CEO MiLife-Victoria Inc.

    Letter from CEO - 22 March 2020

    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.


    Supplies


    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


    Regards,


    Terri Carroll


    CEO MiLife-Victoria Inc.

    Letter from CEO - 19 March 2020

    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.


    Regards,


    Terri Carroll


    CEO MiLife-Victoria Inc.

    Letter from CEO #2 - 17 March 2020

    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.


    Yours sincerely,


    Terri Carroll


    CEO MiLife-Victoria


    Letter from CEO - 17 March 2020

    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.


    Yours sincerely,


    Terri Carroll


    CEO MiLife-Victoria


    Letter from CEO - 16 March 2020

    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.


    Yours sincerely,


    Terri Carroll


    CEO MiLife-Victoria


    Letter from CEO - 15 March 2020

    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.


    These include:


    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.


    Kind Regards,


    Terri Carroll


    CEO MiLife-Victoria


    Letter from CEO - 21 March 2020

    Dear Clients, Families and Carers,


    As you are aware the COVID-19 virus has had a huge impact on all businesses, including our own. Whilst MiLife-Victoria is eligible for the Job Keeper subsidy and this has helped offset staff wages, the decline in our overall income has meant we have had to use our cash reserves to cover other costs associated with keeping the business going.

    With our cash continuing to be drawn down and with no immediate changes to the current restrictions or finding a vaccine on the horizon, we have had to make some further tough decisions to secure MiLife’s future. By this I am referring to the liquidation of one or more of our assets. Whilst, it is not an ideal time to be doing this, it is a necessary action that we need to take to remain in business for when the pandemic ends.

    The properties we have identified to liquidate are the Hastings and Culburra properties. As you know the Hastings property houses all the Head Office staff and Culburra is the smallest of all our Learning Centres providing a base for approx. 14 clients. When considering selling, it was agreed that Head office staff could continue to work remotely as many of us have been during this pandemic and due to the recent fire season, as the clients at Culburra had been at Langwarrin prior to the outbreak, they could continue there once this is all over.

    Although neither property is on the market yet, we have had discussions to sell the properties privately. At this point Hastings has had no interest however, we have had discussions with Focus to sell Culburra to them as an accommodation service. It is with mixed emotions that I can now confirm that my discussions with Focus have progressed to a confirmed sale.

    Whilst selling property was not in our current strategic plan, it was on the Boards agenda to look at in the coming 12 -18 months. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 Pandemic has bought these discussions forward with a necessary sale critical to our survival. I am sure this news will come as a surprise and be very disappointing to many, in particular the clients of Culburra, however, I hope everyone can understand the situation and why these decisions have had to be made.

    Culburra will officially settle in 30 days and will go a long way to helping us get us through this pandemic. However, until we see a change to the social distancing rules and we can get back to providing our normal services, we will need to continue to investigate the sale of Hasting too. A sale of this property will assure our future and guarantee our ability to come through when this all ends.

    As always, please call if you have any questions or concerns and, in the meantime, I will continue to provide further updates as often as I can.

    Continue to take care and be safe.

    Kind Regards,


    Terri Carroll


    CEO MiLife-Victoria Inc.

    Media Release from the Hon Stuart Robert MP

    New measures to support NDIS participants and providers through COVID-19


    The Hon Stuart Robert MP

    Media 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:

    PLANNING


  • Participants are being offered telephone planning meetings as a safer alternative to face-to-face meetings
  • Plans that are due for annual review will be automatically extended for up to 24 months
  • The NDIA is shifting resources to prioritise quick action where participants are seeking changes to their plan due to change of circumstances
  • Special teams will provide assistance where participants need to use core and capacity building funding flexibly
  • The NDIA will be contacting participants it has assessed as being at "higher risk” to ensure they are receiving essential disability-related supports

  • PROVIDERS


  • Registered NDIS providers will receive a one-month advance payment (based on a monthly average of supports billed for in the previous 3 month period) to provide some immediate cash flow assistance
  • There will be a 10% COVID-19 loading added to the price list for key supports for up to six months:
  • - Assistance with Daily Life (excluding Supported Independent Living)

    - Assistance with Social and Community Participation)

    - Improved Daily Living

  • Providers can now change cancellations at 100% of the price and there will be a broader definition of “short notice”.
  • Any increased cleaning and personal protective equipment (PPE) costs associated with Covid-19 can continue to be billed.

  • 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


  • Latest news (including Minister’s announcement and Easy Read format information)
  • https://www.ndis.gov.au/understanding/ndis-and-other-government-services/ndis-and-disaster-response
  • Fact Sheet
  • https://www.ndis.gov.au/media/2209/download
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • https://www.ndis.gov.au/understanding/ndis-and-other-government-services/ndis-and-disaster-response#faq
    NDIS Q&S Commission – Responsible for messaging to service providers on disability and Covid-19
    Information including:
    Training module: Infection prevention and control for COVID-19
    Provider alerts and communications
    Links to government resources
    Advice on use of trusted information sources
    https://www.ndiscommission.gov.au/resources/coronavirus-covid-19-information#participant
    Commonwealth Department of Health - Responsible for messaging to the general public on Covid-19 (including general information about vulnerable groups)
  • General information about the Covid-19 alert
  • https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert
  • What you need to know about Covid-19 including who is most at risk
  • https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert/what-you-need-to-know-about-coronavirus-covid-19#who-is-most-at-risk

    Commonwealth Department of Social Services - Responsible for messaging to the general public on Covid-19 and financial support from the Commonwealth Government


  • Information about Centrelink payments and other financial supports and eligibility criteria for vulnerable cohorts.
  • https://www.dss.gov.au/about-the-department/coronavirus-covid-19-information-and-support
    Priority Assistance for Vulnerable People – Food and groceries
  • Woolworths - has introduced a Priority Assistance service with dedicated delivery windows. Eligible customers include seniors, people with a disability and those with compromised immunity or who are required to self-isolate.
  • https://www.woolworths.com.au/shop/discover/priorityassistance
  • Coles – Is temporarily diverting its home delivery service to the Coles Online Priority Service, to focus on delivering food and grocery essentials to elderly and vulnerable members of the community, including retirement and nursing homes. More information on how to order via the Priority Service will be announced soon.
  • https://www.coles.com.au/customernotice#coles-online
  • Aldi – Elderly or vulnerable people in the community who are unable to access supermarkets, can get in touch with local charities in their area for assistance. To locate a charity in your area that can provide food and grocery relief.
  • www.foodbank.org.au or www.askizzy.org.au.
  • IGA – Some stores are offering additional shopping hours, others already open early and have recommended suitable time slots for those customers to shop. There are extra staff to help vulnerable shoppers do their shopping and some stores are dropping the groceries off to their locals in need. All stores will continue to prioritise the elderly or those with special needs at all service points in their stores.
  • https://www.iga.com.au/update/

    NDIA and NDIS Partners
  • NDIA, LAC and ECEI Partners have all moved to providing services online or over the phone. This means that unless there are extraordinary circumstances, staff from these organisations will not be attending hospitals or hospital settings to conduct planning meetings or meet with participants, prospective participants or Health staff. More information is available on the NDIA Disaster Response page.
  • https://www.ndis.gov.au/news/4659-new-measures-support-ndis-participants-and-providers-through-covid-19.