Home care and the coronavirus: Is it safe?

May 24, 2020
Experts have ensured Aussies accessing home care amid the pandemic is safe. Source: Getty

The Federal Government has eased health and safety concerns, ensuring Aussies that accessing home care amid the coronavirus outbreak is okay. Australia’s chief medical officer has given the country’s most vulnerable the all-clear to receive help at home, with the government passing on the good news to residents in need of care, claiming it’s a necessary measure amid the pandemic.

Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians Richard Colbeck said while it’s a personal choice whether to continue receiving home care services or not, Aussies can be confident in knowing providers are maintaining the utmost health and safety measures to protect the vulnerable during this time.

“Care providers are trained in infection control to help stop the spread of the coronavirus and protect clients in their care,” he said in a press conference. “All the proper procedures are being put in place to ensure the highest level of protection.”

Currently, any aged care worker displaying symptoms of Covid-19 is required to be tested for the virus and isn’t allowed to work until they’re given the all clear. Meanwhile, providers are following medical advice to protect staff and residents during the outbreak.

Nick McDonald, chief executive officer at Prestige Inhome Care, said receiving home care is more important than ever and can help with not only physical health problems, but the social impacts of self-isolation. Like many other companies, Prestige is keeping up-to-date with government guidelines and health advice, with a designated task force meeting each week to discuss any necessary changes to care.

And while staff are used to assisting vulnerable clients and accustomed to the hygiene measures required, he said they’re undergoing training on the latest coronavirus health advice including the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks and gloves – something which McDonald said has caused some confusion among Aussies.

The government has advised aged care workers to only wear PPE if a client has been diagnosed with Covid-19, is suspected of having the virus or is displaying symptoms. However, McDonald said they’ve received calls from clients and families who weren’t aware of this advice or have a lack of understanding about what’s required.

“We’ve been following the chief medical officer’s advice and currently he’s said the use of PPE is not required,” McDonald said. “It’s all about alleviating the concerns of clients and making sure you’ve got everything in place to do so.”

Meanwhile, McDonald said technology is being used by some home care providers to provide social support for clients who don’t require acute care. This includes communicating via phone calls and video chat.

“For many of our clients, the only person they usually see during the week is their carer, so if they’re not having regular visits, the risk of social isolation becomes extreme,” he said. “Instead of visiting and taking them [the client] to a café like they [carers] usually would, they’re spending an hour or so talking on the phone or via video chat.”

While restrictions are slowly being eased, Thea McCroary, general manager of sales and marketing at Prestige Inhome Care, said families should still be making use of home care services where necessary and as long as they’re working with a reputable provider, there’s no need to be concerned about the health and safety of loved ones.

She said although the initial anxieties associated with the coronavirus have been alleviated, there’s still an element of fear among the Australian community when it comes to accessing home care that needs to be addressed.

“When the outbreak first began it was on the news 24/7 and some found that overwhelming,” she said. “But, Australia is doing a great job at keeping case numbers relatively low and aged care workers are taking all necessary measures to keep clients safe. There’s help available and home care is important in protecting the country’s most vulnerable from the coronavirus.”

IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your financial or legal situation, objectives or needs. That means it’s not financial product or legal advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a financial or legal decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get independent, licensed financial services or legal advice.

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Do you have a loved one who is receiving home care? How has their experience been with it amid the coronavirus outbreak?

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