Thank you to everyone in our Cara Community – customers, families and staff – for your ongoing support and understanding as we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.
At Cara, we continue to monitor the situation around South Australia and work with our colleagues interstate to do everything we can to keep our customers and staff safe. As the information and advice changes, Cara responds and adapts. Cara is careful and considered.
Changes in residential aged care
On Thursday (August 13), the South Australian Government announced that personal care workers will not be allowed to work across more than one aged care home, and that any staff – including doctors, nurses, and personal care workers – who come within 1.5m of an aged care resident must wear personal protective equipment (PPE).
We understand that residential aged care facilities, with large numbers of vulnerable people living in close proximity to each other, are high-risk environments where any illness can spread quickly and easily.
Does this impact how we work at Cara?
Cara’s supports are very different to the way residential aged care operates.
At this stage, the advice we have received is that staff and customers do not need to wear PPE if customers are not showing any symptoms of any illness.
Staff do not come to work when they are sick and we have already seen increased amounts of sick leave being taken by our staff as everyone takes a careful approach and ensures they are fully fit and well to attend work.
Restrictions on where staff can work
At this stage, our advice is also that there is no need for staff to be restricted to working at one house or service site. The majority of Cara’s staff work at a small number of locations.
To ensure we can meet the needs of our customers (including a range of health, medical and psychosocial needs), ensure correct staffing ratios and also be able to provide staff coverage when other staff need to take sick leave or annual leave, we must have flexibility across our workforce.
We have been working with our agency staff providers to ensure we understand their COVID-safe practices and ensuring they are upholding Cara’s high standards.
How is Cara keeping customers and staff safe?
All of our staff have received updated infection prevention and infection control training. We have a culture of staff supporting other staff and customers to follow hygiene recommendations.
In working in our customers’ homes, including Supported Independent Living (SIL) share homes and Cara’s Short Term Accommodation (respite) sites, Cara has already:
- Implemented temperature checks of all staff, customers and visitors.
- Increased cleaning throughout the house, with a focus of regular cleaning of surfaces and high-touch areas using approved hospital-grade disinfectants.
- Created a health declaration and the keeping of names and contact details of any visitors to customer houses for contact-tracing purposes, if required.
- Distributed stocks of PPE, including masks, gowns and eye protection, for use when customers display any signs of illness. Gloves are a regular part of PPE and used frequently in Cara’s supports for our customers. You may see staff wearing PPE more frequently – this is not necessarily an indication that anyone at Cara is being tested for COVID-19, rather that we are taking a careful approach and preventing the spread of illness of any kind.
Fulltime and permanent part-time staff also have access to immediate advanced sick leave if required.
Cara will respond and adapt as required
The pandemic requires everyone to be flexible and ready to change quickly as the advice changes.
Cara will do everything we can to keep you informed about how we are operating and what we are doing to protect our customers and our staff.
Our Crisis Management Team, made up of senior management, meets regularly and tests scenarios to ensure our processes would be effective in the event of a positive COVID-19 diagnosis in our Cara Community.
Contact Cara Connect on 08 8347 4588 or speak with your Team Leader or Service Manager. Our latest updates are posted to our website www.cara.org.au and can be found here
Cara Chief Executive