Last updated: 30 March, 2020
Welcome to our dedicated hub for updates regarding Coronavirus (COVID-19).
We are monitoring the COVID-19 situation closely, guided by relevant federal and state authorities. These include the federal and state departments of health, the Prime Minister’s National Cabinet, each state’s premiers and territories chief ministers, as well as the federal and state chief medical officers.
We will do our very best to clearly communicate to you if the advice relevant to you changes; however, as the situation is changing rapidly please do what you can to keep abreast of the news.
Our highest priority is the health and wellbeing of our clients and staff, and their families. We are dedicated to your care and we have recently achieved full accreditation from the Australian Council on Healthcare Standards, which reviewed all our policies and procedures.
Below are FAQs (frequently asked questions), which we will keep updated to answer common concerns.
If you have a question that is not answered to your satisfaction, please contact us so that we can provide an answer. We will then update our FAQs for the benefit of others seeking the same information.
- Are Reliant Healthcare staff being tested for COVID-19?
- What steps have you taken to assess whether Reliant Healthcare staff have COVID-19?
- What are you doing to minimise COVID-19 exposure among Reliant Healthcare staff and clients?
- How does COVID-19 impact upon Reliant Healthcare’s service to clients?
- What are my responsibilities as a client?
- What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
- What should I do if I suspect I have COVID-19?
Are Reliant Healthcare staff being tested for COVID-19?
At this point the advice from the Department of Health is to not blanket test all staff, as this would create an unfair burden on the limited supply of testing kits which are in high demand from individuals that display symptoms and need tests.
What steps have you taken to assess whether Reliant Healthcare staff have COVID-19?
To date, we have not had any suspected cases of COVID-19 or suspicious staff illnesses.
Several of our staff are still overseas, and some staff have recently returned to Australia from overseas and are in self-isolation. The clients that these staff usually care for have been informed, and alternative carers provided.
In addition to receiving ongoing support and training, all staff must provide us with written confirmation that they are well each working day.
What are you doing to minimise COVID-19 exposure among Reliant Healthcare staff and clients?
Since late January, our Registered Nurse Clinical Coordinators have continued to liaise with staff regarding the symptoms and ongoing risks of COVID-19. We have and continue to provide ongoing support, information and training to staff during this time.
All our carers have refreshed their Infection Control training. This includes when and how to wash hands, keeping the workplace clean, and minimising the touching of hair, nose and mouth.
As per Reliant Healthcare’s Illness Policy:
- If staff show signs or symptoms of any serious illness or infectious disease (including but not limited to fever, cough, sore throat, diarrhoea, vomiting, and other flu like symptoms) they are not to attend work.
- Staff who present any of these symptoms whilst on shift are to go home immediately, and advise us.
- Staff must provide us with confirmation that they are well each working day.
Additionally, staff must:
- Contact us if they have had close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19.
- Continue to practice good hygiene, including proper hand washing and other infection control procedures.
- Continue to travel safely to work. If travelling by public transport, staff must socially distance and wear gloves for the commute (which are then disposed of immediately upon arrival to the client).
Currently, the Department of Health only requires healthcare workers that interact with suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 to wear surgical masks, and makes no further determinations. If a client suspects they may have COVID-19, they should follow our advice further down this page, and we would liaise with the Department of Health and follow their advice. If our carers suspect they themselves suspect they may have COVID-19, or display any symptoms, we will take no risks: they are not to work with clients, must inform us immediately, and alternative carers will be arranged for our clients. To that end, neither our carers or clients are required to wear surgical masks if there are no suspicions of infection. Surgical masks, like most PPE (personal protective equipment), are in short supply at the moment, and we respect that the supplies currently available in Australia are needed to prevent critical shortages elsewhere. However, as a precaution, we will supply masks if requested.
We will be in contact with staff regarding our provision of the flu vaccine free of charge. It is anticipated that the flu vaccine will be available in mid-April.
How does COVID-19 impact upon Reliant Healthcare’s service to clients?
We have taken every step possible to minimise the impact of COVID-19 on our services.
However, due to the restrictions imposed after overseas travel, it may be unavoidable that our clients will not be able to have their usual carer for a brief period and a suitable replacement carer will be rostered in the short term. Currently impacted clients have been contacted.
What are my responsibilities as a client?
Responding to the threat of any communicable disease requires a coordinated approach. As the Prime Minister has repeatedly said, “We are all in this together.”
We have done everything we can to minimise exposure to our staff, and therefore transmission from staff to clients. With this in mind, we ask that our clients do their part too.
- You update us with any recent travel that you may have undertaken, particularly if you or any known visitors have travelled overseas in the past 14 days.
- You inform us immediately if any known visitors, or other people you may have come into contact with, have experienced any flu-like symptoms in the past week (as outlined below).
- You obey the community rules as set out by the authorities.
- You let us know if you notice anything of concern, either in your lives, or with our staff.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
COVID-19 is a contagious viral infection that generally causes respiratory illness in humans. Presentation can range from no symptoms (asymptomatic) to severe illness with potentially life-threatening complications, including pneumonia. COVID-19 is spread by contact with respiratory secretions and fomites (objects or materials which are likely to carry infection, such as clothes, utensils, benches and furniture).
The most common signs and symptoms include:
- fever (though this may be absent in the elderly)
- dry cough
Other symptoms can include:
- shortness of breath
- sputum production
Less common symptoms include:
- sore throat
- nausea or vomiting
- nasal congestion
- conjunctival congestion
Older people may also have the following symptoms:
- increased confusion
- worsening chronic conditions of the lungs
- loss of appetite
The elderly often have non-classic respiratory symptoms.
What should I do if I suspect I have COVID-19?
The current advice from the Department of Health (last updated 19 March, 2020) is that if you believe you have been exposed to, or have COVID-19, you should phone the National Coronavirus Helpline (1800 020 080) for advice.
After that, and following any further advice the helpline has given you, please contact us as soon as possible to let us know.