e-Blast: Latest update on COVID-19.  New announcements as of 23 March 2020

QDN knows that this is a worrying time for members, families, supporters and allies, which is why we’re committed to providing you with reliable and relevant information.

This E-blast for QDN members and supporters includes updates about:

  1. Commonwealth Government’s announcement of $66 Billion Coronavirus measures announced by Prime Minister Scott Morrison on 22 March 2020
  2. Minister O’Rourke announced Community Recovery Hotline open for vulnerable Queenslanders who are in home quarantine and need help to get essential food and medication on 21 March 2020
  3. Information for people over 60+ years old
  4. How QDN members can keep up to date with information

QDN will send out a second e-blast later tonight on announcements that have been made around changes to the NDIS to support participants, providers and workers through COVID-19.

Commonwealth Government – $66 Billion Coronavirus measures announced 22 March 2020

The Commonwealth Government has announced a range of new measures in an economic support package which include:

  • Support for households including casuals, sole-traders, retirees and those on income support
  • Assistance for businesses to keep people in a job
  • Regulatory protection and financial support for businesses to stay in business

For people on income support:

A second $750 Economic Support Payment for people with eligible concession cards/pensions

A second $750 Economic Support Payment to be automatically paid to people on 13 July to eligible people with concession cards including Disability Support Pension and Carers Pensions. This is in addition to the First $750 payment that was announced last week. The first $750 payment will be paid to people from March 31. (Here is the link to QDN previous e-blast about this)

Temporary Fortnightly $550 Coronavirus Supplement for people on JobSeeker Payments

A temporary fortnightly $550 Coronavirus Supplement from 27 April 2020 on top of your normal payment rate if you’re getting an eligible payment. Eligible payments will be automatically paid if you get one of these payments:

  • JobSeeker Payment (previously known as Newstart)
  • Youth Allowance for job seekers
  • Parenting Payment
  • Farm Household Allowance
  • Special Benefit.

Other economic measures:

Allowing access to superannuation: People will be able to access $10,000 from their superannuation in this financial year for 2019-20 and an additional $10,000 in 2020-2021.

Loans and payments for small businesses: There are a range of measures for one off payments to small businesses and not-for-profit organisations and loans for financial assistance during this time.

For more information on Income support measures go to  www.servicesaustralia.gov.au . More information on broader measures go to https://www.pm.gov.au/media/supporting-australian-workers-and-business

Community Recovery Hotline opens for vulnerable Queenslanders who are in home quarantine and need help with getting essential food and medication

State Minister Coralee O’Rourke announced on 21 March 2020 that a hotline had been opened to support people who have been told to quarantine at home by a doctor or the Government. The hotline is for people who don’t have other options or support mechanisms in place and need to get essential food and medicines.

People can call the Community Recovery Hotline on 1800 173 349 if they need

  • Help to organise the delivery of essential food and medications.
  • Social and emotional telephone support

The Hotline is currently there to help the most vulnerable Queenslanders in quarantine and for those who have no other support mechanisms in place.

If people need health advice or information when they are in quarantine or self-isolation they need to call 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84) or go to www.health.qld.gov.au/coronavirus

Information for people over 60+ years old

Older people (60+ years of age, or 50+ for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples) are more susceptible to getting sick with COVID-19 (coronavirus). Even if you are feeling well it is important to take steps to prevent the spread of this virus. Good hygiene and taking care when interacting with other people, are the best defences for you and your family against COVID-19.

If you need urgent assistance and your usual carer isn’t able to assist:

In an emergency, older Australians can access short term home support services (such as meals or personal care) in an emergency without having had an aged care assessment. Assessments can also be conducted using telehealth rather than face-to-face where appropriate, speak with a home care provider about these measures.

If you get a Home Care Package and need more supports

The Australian Government will ensure the services you currently receive through your Home Care Package will continue.

However, there may be some changes to the way service is delivered. For example, home care staff may change the way that personal care is done to limit person-to-person touch where possible, or wear masks and gloves where they may not have previously.

You will need to contact your service provider if

  • you are concerned about the way your current services are being delivered;
  • you want to make changes to your usual services because of COVID-19, such as arranging help to go to the shops or arranging your carer to shop on your behalf;
  • You have an emergency situation and you have fully allocated your Home Care Package and you need to access short term home support services.

Access to tele-health and getting prescriptions without going to the doctor

As part of the COVID-19 National Health Plan the Australian Government has increased access to bulk billed MBS telehealth and telephone services and fast-tracked electronic prescribing of medicines.

For people 70+ years of age (or 50+ for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people); people self-isolating at home; or those with chronic health conditions or are immunocompromised you can

    • Get a range of services from doctors, nurses and mental health professionals to via tele-health (video link) or by telephone, provided those services are bulk billed. Check with your doctor or health professional if this is available
    • Is fast tracking setting up electronic prescribing (eprescribing) so doctors can prepare electronic prescription that patients will then be able to share with pharmacy and have their medicines home delivered to reduce their potential exposure to COVID-19, depending on different pharmacies

The need for social distancing and young people not visiting

The Australian Government is advising everyone to practise “social distancing”, which means less contact between you and other people to help slow the spread of the disease. If you are an older person (60+ years of age), you should consider limiting physical contact with other people, especially young children, and avoiding large groups of people.

It’s possible that children and young people may be carriers of COVID-19 but show no symptoms, making it extremely difficult to tell if it’s safe for them to visit an older relative.

A chat over the phone, video call or email – rather than visits in person – is a good precaution and could help stop the spread of COVID-19.

Restrictions on aged care facility visits

To protect our most vulnerable people, the Australian Government announced restrictions on visits to all residential aged care facilities. If you do visit, the aged care home will have strict procedures you will need to respect and follow. Information on the restrictions are available here: https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert/coronavirus-covid-19-advice-for-public-gatherings-and-visits-to-vulnerable-groups.

Families should call the facility to understand what processes are in place. If you have concerns with the centre’s actions, contact the Older Person’s Advocacy Network on 1800 700 600 or the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission on 1800 951 822.

Those not able to visit need to consider other ways to stay in touch, including phone and video calls, writing, or filming short videos to share.

How QDN members can keep up to date with information

Get the facts from trusted sites.

QDN also has links to helpful resources for members up on our website and will share these on QDN’s Facebook page.

Join your local QDN Local Support Group on Facebook – Local Support Groups are setting up digital groups online using Facebook. If you would like to join your LSG online, try searching for your local group’s name in Facebook or contacting QDN at qdn@qdn.org.au or calling 07 3252 8566 and we can talk you through how to join.