IMPORTANT INFORMATION FROM MEALS ON WHEELS – 20TH MARCH 2020
The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Commonwealth and State Governments have now declared Coronavirus (COVID-19) a pandemic. With infection rates accelerating, yesterday, Tasmanian Premier, The Hon Peter Gutwein MP announced the toughest border protection measures to contain the spread of Coronavirus by enforcing self-isolation for 14 days for all people arriving into Tasmania.
As an Aged Care Provider supporting vulnerable members of the community, Meals on Wheels would like to provide you with assurance that we have and are taking necessary steps to ensure preparedness should any of our branches be impacted by COVID-19.
Meals on Wheels is closely monitoring all available advice of Federal and State Governments in regards to COVID-19, particularly the Australian Department of Public Health. We are using this information, which is updated regularly, to inform the management strategies we develop to prioritise the safety and wellbeing of our clients, volunteers and employees. We are also taking advice from Meals on Wheels Australia to ensure a national response to this issue.
What we know:
COVID-19 is a new form of the Coronavirus and it has been spreading around the world. Symptoms may include fever, coughing, sore throat, difficulty breathing and flu-like symptoms such as headaches.
COVID-19 is spread by direct or close contact with a person while they are infectious or by touching surfaces contaminated from a cough or sneeze from a person with the infection, and then touching your mouth or face.
Given the heightened risk that Coronavirus poses to our clients, and also our staff and volunteers, we need to make sure that everyone is following requirements provided by Meals on Wheels Tasmania to ensure we continue to provide a safe environment for all our workers. It is extremely important that we all work together to reduce the risk of the spread of this infection.
To assist in providing our staff, Board and volunteers with a safe and healthy workplace, Meals on Wheels will:
- Display posters around ‘knowing the signs’, ‘safe hand washing’ and other information as required
- Provide up to date information where possible via email, facebook, verbally or memos
- Ensure all sinks/bathrooms at Meals on Wheels facilities have adequate soap/sanitiser and paper towels for safe hand washing
- Ensure all staff and volunteers have access to hand sanitiser, gloves and / or antibacterial wipes to be used for delivery of meals
- Notify staff and volunteers if we are aware of a client, volunteer or staff member who has been affected by the virus (NB: privacy will need to be maintained so we may not be able to provide the name of person who has the virus)
- When / if a client has contracted the virus, we will endeavor to continue to provide meals to that client in the safest, most practical way (where possible) and only with your knowledge and consent
- We will only provide meals where possible and where volunteer/staff who deliver meals consent to, are comfortable to do so and where adequate infection control procedures are in place (ie. it may involve leaving meals in an esky outside, or delivering with adequate personal protective equipment)
- Do all that we can to ensure the protection of staff, volunteers and clients at all times
- No longer do face to face visits until further notice. Client assessments will be conducted over the phone
- Cancel any work-related interstate travel until further notice
- Teleconference for external meetings to minimise attending large gatherings
- Request a safe space between workers (1.5m) both at work and in social environments
- Focus on hygiene, hand washing and respiratory etiquette to minimise the spread of germs
- Encourage our staff to stay away from work if unwell and sending people home if they present to work unwell
- Prepare to manage any outbreak of infectious diseases such as the flu or gastro. We do this every year and we are implementing the same procedures now to try and prevent the virus from spreading
- Follow the advice from health authorities and work with them to ensure we are as prepared as we can be. Our focus is on ensuring the health and wellbeing of our clients, staff and volunteers.
All staff, volunteers and Board members will do the following:
- Notify their manager or Branch Coordinator if they have travelled outside of Tasmania
- Notify their manager or Branch Coordinator if they believe they do have, or are at risk of contracting the virus
- Notify their manager or Branch Coordinator if they are unwell and show any symptoms of the Coronavirus. These symptoms may include fever, cough, sore throat, fatigue and / or shortness of breath
- Do not come to work or volunteer if they are unwell (follow the usual notification process)
- Notify their manager or Branch Coordinator if they feel uncomfortable to deliver meals if / when there is a client who is in home isolation
- Ask staff if you have any concerns or questions around processes and procedures
- Practice good hand hygiene. This includes:
- covering your coughs and sneezes with your elbow or a tissue
- disposing of tissues properly
- washing your hands often and thoroughly with soap and water, including before and after eating, after going to the toilet and touching surfaces in public spaces.
- using alcohol-based hand sanitisers as supplied. Gloves are also available in branches in the event of a lack of hand sanitiser
- cleaning and disinfecting surfaces often
- avoiding contact with others and staying more than 1.5 metres away from people
- cleaning and sanitising frequently used objects such as mobiles, keys and wallets
- using your elbows to push open doors in commonly used spaces or public facilities.
- Keep a packet of wipes and hand sanitiser on your person to use if soap and water are not available.
- Adhere to social distancing (avoiding contact with others by staying a minimum of 1.5m away). This includes:
- Stop handshaking and other physical greetings
- Hold meetings via video conferencing or phone call
- Defer large face-to-face meetings
- Hold essential meetings outside in the open air if possible
- Eat lunch outside rather than in the lunchroom
- Clean and disinfect shared high-touch surfaces regularly
- Consider opening windows and adjusting air conditioning for more fresh air
- Limit food handling and shared food in the workplace
- Promote strictest hygiene among food preparation (canteen) staff and their close contacts
- As of midnight 20th March 2020, those who return to Tasmania from interstate MUST self-isolate for 14 days on their return to Tasmania
- If they fall unwell in this 14-day isolation period, they will need to provide a medical certificate indicating that they are well enough to return to work
- Staff will be required to phone the State Office to seek clearance before you return to work
- We encourage staff to postpone any unnecessary interstate travel as this will result in a 14-day exclusion period from work
WHEN TO SELF-ISOLATE:
Staff must not attend work for a period of 14 days IF the following applies to them:-
- They have recently returned to Tasmania from ANY destination
- A member of their household has recently returned from overseas from ANY destination
- They have had contact with a person suspected of having COVID-19
- They have had contact with a person with confirmed COVID-19
Staff, volunteers and Board members will call the National Coronavirus Health Information Line on
1800 020 080 (available 24 hours a day) or seek medical attention if they become unwell with symptoms of Coronavirus.
Meals on Wheels Tasmania will continue to update staff, volunteers and Board members
as this situation changes or evolves.