The following information will outline the steps Nulsen are taking currently and going forward to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of all people across Nulsen Group in response to the impact of COVID-19; this includes clients, employees and other stakeholders.
Nulsen Group services’ play a crucial role in supporting some of the most vulnerable members of our community. Our 850+ workforce support over 2,200 Western Australians per year who have complex support needs in a variety of community settings. We have always been proud of the caring role we play in delivering services and how we have always worked together – now more than ever this will come to be tested as we respond to the challenges of COVID-19.
Most clients we support will be at risk of COVID-19 due to their individual life situation. Current information shows that most people with COVID-19 infection (>80 per cent) have a mild form of the disease. This mild disease contributes to the high transmission of the virus which places our clients at risk. The continued use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is essential when performing personal care support functions.
Nulsen Group has a Pandemic Emergency Plan and Pandemic Emergency Response Team in place which will meet regularly to monitor and guide the organisations’ response to COVID-19.
Our current responses to COVID-19 include the implementation of precautionary measures as advised by the Australian Government and Health Department to ensure the safest possible environment for those we support, employees and stakeholders. These include:
- Issuing an operational instruction which outlines our policy on travel and isolation requirements;
- Advising families, guardians and clients where their family member/themselves has planned travel arrangements, that they seek the advice from their GP to assist in determining whether to travel or not;
- Enacting a greater emphasis on hygiene, particularly in relation to washing hands and coughing/sneezing into a tissue or covering cough/sneezes with elbows;
- Encouraging an organisation-wide approach to minimising physical contact such as handshaking, opting for other appropriate gestures of acknowledgement;
- Ensuring our pandemic preparedness boxes are checked at each worksite, being audited and restocked;
- Providing education and training for all employees;
- Displaying visitor signs across all Nulsen Group locations encouraging visitors to do their part to ensure their personal hygiene is of the highest standard.
- Ensuring no visitor with symptoms enters a Nulsen Group site.
Reducing exposure in residential settings
If a client is diagnosed with COVID-19 we will seek to isolate the person in their room, or possibly relocate to another site (if available). Our response under the Australian Health Sector Emergency Response Plan for COVID-19 will be focused on early identification of cases, isolation and notification to the public health authorities. If you believe you have been exposed to COVID-19 we advise you to contact the coronavirus health information hotline on 1800 020 080 which operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They will tell you whether you should go to a clinic attached to a hospital in your area or to your GP (making sure to call them ahead of your visit).
One of the most important messages is the value of basic standard hygiene (hand washing, cough etiquette, social distancing) in preventing transmission. Further information regarding best practices can be found on the World Health Organisation website. We all need to be diligent in this area of prevention.
The Communicable Diseases Network of Australia (CDNA) has released the National Guidelines for the Prevention, Control and Public Health Management of COVID-19 outbreaks in residential care facilities in Australia. Nulsen Group’s Pandemic Emergency Team (PET) will be charged with implementing the recommendations contained in the guide.
Employees in the justice area
Employees in the justice area are working with a range of people in different settings either at home, residential or prison. The implementation of good hygiene practices remains the key strategy in minimising infection. Employees in these services should also adopt placing a greater distance between yourself and the client. Avoid or minimise any physical contact with clients.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Nulsen Group has provided PPE where required and recommend employees continue to practice good hygiene practices (universal precautions) within all service areas. This includes washing your hands or using antibacterial hand sanitiser regularly upon entering and exiting any site.
Generally, there is no need for workers to wear masks, this is only necessary when supporting clients with symptoms.
Effective Tuesday 17 March 2020, the Pandemic Emergency Team (PET) are issuing the following additional operational instructions which are being taken by the organisation to minimise the spread of the virus.
Additional Control and Prevention Measures across Nulsen Group
Future strategies will likely include reducing the contact and gathering of people across all services and operations.
State Government’s response
The Western Australian State Government’s response to COVID-19 in the human services sector is ambiguous. There is currently no clear direction around the support to be provided to the sector by the State Government. Australia’s peak body, National Disability Services, met with the Disability Ministers office on Friday 13 March 2020, and I will be meeting with the Director General of the Department of Communities on Monday 16 March 2020 to present the following recommendations:
- Institute appropriate and immediate measures to protect vulnerable people in our community;
- Support human service NGO organisations to maintain continuity of support to their clients; and
- Assist a financially vulnerable, highly casualised human sector workforce to access appropriate personal leave entitlements should the need arise.
We are working closely with other organisations across the human services sector and peak bodies to ensure there is adequate communication and, where possible, the opportunity to share resources, information and strategies.
To ensure you always have access to the latest information and guidance, we encourage you to visit www.health.gov.au.
We will continue to be transparent with ongoing communication to ensure you are always kept informed.
They say the true test of a society and who we are as a people is how we respond in a crisis. we encourage you all to approach the issue at hand with a sense of compassion, courage and kindness as well as individual civil responsibility. Together, we will overcome this.