Cara COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

Aug 31, 2020 | News

This information is current as of September 2020. We recognise that the COVID-19 health situation is constantly evolving, and this information may change.
 

What is Cara doing to keep customers safe?

At Cara, we take a careful and considered approach to this, the health and wellbeing of our customers and our staff remains our greatest priority. We continue to monitor the COVID-19 health situation around South Australia and nationally and work with our state and interstate colleagues to do everything we can to keep our customers and staff safe.

All of our Supported Independent Living (SIL) and Cara’s Short Term Accommodation (respite) staff have been re-trained in infection prevention and infection controls procedures.  Cara has also:

  • Educated staff about not coming to work if sick and having a COVID-19 test if they have any signs or symptoms
  • Offered casual staff ongoing employment contracts with 10 days sick leave up front. This enables staff to take sick leave rather than come to work and risk spreading infection.
  • Investigated agency staff policies and training to ensure that their practices meet Cara’s high standards.
  • Set up regular checks of medication, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and essential food supplies to ensure that customers’ needs are met in the event of an outbreak.
  • Purchased a stock pile of PPE for a quick response.  PPE has been delivered to all Cara services and all home visiting staff.  Stocks include masks, gloves, gowns and eye protection, for use when customers display any signs of illness.
  • Implemented daily temperature and health declarations for all staff, customers and visitors.  Visitor names and contact details will assist contact-tracing, if required.
  • Increased cleaning throughout all houses, with a focus on cleaning surfaces and high-touch areas using approved hospital-grade disinfectants.
  • Established a COVID-19 hot line which provides advice and direction where customers or staff are tested for or diagnosed with COVID-19.
  • Staff repeat their infection prevention and control training when a customer is referred for a COVID-19 test.

You may see our staff wearing PPE more frequently – this may not mean that anyone at the home is being tested for COVID-19. We are taking a careful approach and preventing the spread of illness of any kind.


How is Cara planning for the future?

We are continuing to review and refine our COVID-19 response and plan for all scenarios.  Cara continues to work with government and interstate disability service providers to update our procedures as more information becomes available about this virus.   Cara’s Board and senior managers also regularly meet with an international pandemic risk expert to review what is happening nationally and internationally and in order to respond to issues that may affect Cara.

While most of our services are currently operating as usual, the COVID-19 pandemic is constantly changing.  Cara always follows State and Federal Government guidelines.  We recognise that we may need to tighten restrictions again in the future should the health situation in South Australia change.


What will Cara do if someone tests positive to COVID-19?

We have extensive processes in place to manage positive COVID-19 test results and scenario plan to ensure an effective response.  Should a customer test positive, we will move quickly to isolate the customer where possible, seek medical assistance and follow Government advice.  Cara is in regular contact with SA Health and the Department of Human Services and has an agreement that customers will be admitted to hospital when tested positive.

Staff who are waiting for a COVID-19 test result isolate at home and will take sick leave if they test positive. Any unwell staff (e.g. common cold, flu or virus) are directed to take sick leave until they are well. Staff who test positive to COVID-19 will not return to work until cleared by SA Health.

Can I visit my family member who lives with Cara’s support?

We always encourage customers to remain connected to their loved ones.  Families and friends are welcome to visit Cara customers in their homes at this time, as long as they follow the conditions below:

  • Complete a health screening COVID-19 checklist prior to entry.
  • Wash or sanitise hands when entering and leaving the home.
  • Cooperate with social distancing guidelines at all times, including maintaining a distance of 1.5 metres from all staff and residents in the home.
  • Stay home if they feel unwell, so as to not put their loved ones, other customers and staff at risk of the spread of illness and infection.

We can also assist you to connect through technology such as FaceTime or video conferencing via Skype or Zoom.


What do the recent changes in residential aged care mean for Cara?

On Thursday August 13, the South Australian Government announced that staff will not be allowed to work across more than one aged care home, and that doctors, nurses and personal care workers who come within 1.5m of an aged care resident must wear personal protective equipment (PPE).

Residential aged care facilities with large numbers of vulnerable people living in close proximity to each other, are high-risk environments where illness can spread quickly and easily.  At this stage, we have been advised that staff do not need to be restricted to working at one house.  

The majority of Cara’s staff work at a small number of locations and undertake ongoing infection prevention and control training.  We have offered casual staff permanent jobs and 10 days sick leave to encourage them to work only with Cara.  Staff are also being reminded regularly about staying COVID-19 safe while not at work.


Do Cara staff wear PPE while they work?

SA Health has advised that staff and customers do not need to wear PPE if customers are not showing any symptoms of any illness.  PPE is being worn by staff where customers are unwell to reduce the spread to other customers and staff. 

In response to our direction, staff do not come to work when sick and we have seen more sick leave being taken by as everyone ensures they are fully fit and well to attend work.  We communicate regularly with our staff about Cara’s expectations.

Cara has funded the cost of flu vaccinations for our staff.  Many staff have taken this up. It further reinforces our commitment to preventing the spread of preventable illness at Cara.


Are any of Cara’s programs not running due to COVID-19?

Our Camps for Kids, Getaways and Kids Club programs are currently on hold as these are group activities where we would be unable to guarantee social distancing.  Many of the venues where these programs are hosted are also currently not taking bookings due to the COVID-19 health situation. 


I want to talk about my Cara service. Who can I talk to?  

If you have any questions or concerns about your Cara service, you can talk to our Cara Connect team on 08 8347 4588.


Where can I get more information about COVID-19?
If you have any general questions around COVID-19, please contact SA Health’s COVID-19 information line on 1800 253 787 or the National Coronavirus Information Helpline on 1800 020 080.
 
The Australian Government Department of Health website also provides general information on Coronavirus (COVID-19).

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