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March 20, 2020 | ONCALL Sector News

ONCALL’s response to COVID-19

COVID-19 Graphic

We are all very conscious that within our community, the elderly, people with underlying health conditions and those living in residential settings, are most at risk of serious complications should they contract the Coronavirus. Whilst we understand the Australian community will most likely experience a higher than normal absence of staff away from the workplace due to illness, ONCALL has a large, flexible workforce available to work every day, and we’re committed to ensuring the sector has a workforce to continue to support those most vulnerable.

The demand for support staff will continue to be strong with the Disability & CYF Community still needing to be cared for during this time. ONCALL is committed to undertaking all reasonable steps to try and mitigate the spread of this virus and ensure we have workforce available to meet the needs of our participants and valued customers’ participants/clients.

Victorian Government Declared State of Emergency
A State of Emergency has been declared in Victoria as of 16th March 2020 to combat COVID-19. This provides the Chief Health Officer with additional powers to manage the situation. As of 20th March 2020, the Federal Government announced a Level 4 Travel Ban warning all Australians not to travel overseas at this time. Australian international borders have also been closed to all non-residents and non-Australian citizens.

As part of the newly introduced social distancing measures, there are now limits on non-essential indoor gatherings to fewer than 100 people and outdoor gatherings to fewer than 500 people. Restrictions have also been placed on visits to Aged Care facilities as they’ve been identified as a high-risk category.

Penalties apply to anyone who fails to follow these directives with fines of up to $100,000 for corporations and $20,000 for individuals.

ONCALL’s continuity of service

ONCALL’s Critical Incident Management Team is meeting daily, or as frequently as required, given the fast-moving changes with the COVID-19 outbreak. ONCALL has developed a refined Corporate Contingency Plan Strategy to enact for any identified scenario.

Our Allocations team continue to be based in our Surrey Hills office and we are available 7 days a week between 6.00 am – 11.00 pm, and through our dedicated after-hours team providing emergency support between 11.00 pm and 6.00 am.

We have commenced regular communications to all staff, customer organisations, and NDIS participants and families.

We are asking all our staff to take every precaution to be vigilant about their infection control practices and to ensure they have not exposed themselves through recent travel or by associating with people, like family, who may have returned from overseas in order to mitigate the risk of contracting and passing on this virus.

We are taking additional measures to support and protect staff working in our office including working from home, staggered work schedules, social distancing and additional safety and cleaning steps.

Measures to protect our field staff and clients in the workplace

ONCALL is committed to working in partnership with our sector partners to reduce risk, and provide a safe environment for participants, clients, families, staff and the community, and limit the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the sector. Some of the measures we have introduced include:

  • Regular communications to all staff on the Coronavirus, to keep them up to date on relevant information and risk mitigation strategies, providing them with additional training on Infection Control, ONCALL’s Infection Control Policy and Code Yellow Policy.
  • Staff have been advised they must self-isolate for 14 days and not attend work if they have returned from overseas or have had contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19. Staff will not be allowed to return to work until they are clear of symptoms and/ or have a medical clearance.
  • We have instructed staff not to attend work if they have any cold or virus-like symptoms – even if they do not fall into the ‘at risk’ categories.
  • Staff continue to be reminded of the importance of maintaining rigorous personal hygiene practices and follow Infection Control Practices vigilantly in the workplace.

Support and administrative functions

We have reviewed our internal office situation to ensure we have enough staff in place to meet operational needs and working with our field staff to ensure we have staff available.

  • Head Office core non-essential staff have started transitioning to work from home.
  • We have cancelled face-to-face meetings indefinitely and will reschedule either as a teleconference/videoconference via Zoom.
  • Visitors planning to visit our office, we encourage you to contact the ONCALL staff member to confirm your visit, reschedule as a teleconference/videoconference or postpone it.

Communicating with ONCALL

We ask our customer organisations to advise us immediately, should any of your Participants/Clients and/or Staff present unwell, if they are self-isolating, have been admitted to hospital, are undergoing COVID-19 testing, or return a positive test result. Where we are providing 1:1 support, we ask if any of your family members are unwell, that we are also informed. These measures will assist us to ensure the health and wellbeing of all our participants and staff. Additionally, we will immediately provide you with this information for any ONCALL staff member that has been at your worksite in accordance with ONCALL’s Privacy and Confidentiality Policies.

It is important that all clients provide us with all the relevant information when booking shifts and prior to staff arriving on shift.

We understand your needs throughout this time may change, e.g. school and day service closures and community activities may be cancelled.  Please remember we have a large, flexible workforce and we’re here to assist you as best we can.

To minimise longer than normal wait times on the phone, we’d appreciate it if you could send through any Disability non-urgent bookings (more than 24hr in advance) via email to [email protected] and for CYF/Welfare shifts to [email protected]

Given how rapidly the outbreak is evolving, we expect and are prepared, to iterate on our approach constantly to ensure the health and safety of our employees and communities. This information reflects our latest measures and practices as of 20th March 2020, and we will update accordingly to reflect any fundamental changes to our plan.

Rest assured that ONCALL’s priority is the health and safety of our employees and the communities we support, including our Customer Organisations and the Participants/Clients you care for. If you have any feedback or questions in regard to ONCALL’s service delivery, please email Dilan Samathilake on [email protected].

Easy to read resources

ONCALL’s Behaviour Support Specialists have sourced easy read tools to assist staff to have these discussions (tools linked below)

NDIS and disaster response resources

NDIS Coronavirus Easy English Resource

The Growing Space Covid-19 Easy Read English Resources

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