Coronavirus is a respiratory illness which is generally thought to spread from person to person. Symptoms include body aches, fever, sneezing, coughing, nausea/vomiting.
With the current coronavirus pandemic, it is important to be aware of the risks of coronavirus. Be prepared and have plans around reducing exposure risks and managing potential changes to support needs.
Generally speaking, people with disability are not at higher risk of contracting COVID-19. Those who are at higher risk of becoming seriously ill if they contract COVID-19 are;
- Older adults
- People who have serious chronic medical conditions like heart disease, lung disease and diabetes
- Those with low immune systems
If a COVID-19 outbreak happens in your community, the Government may recommend particular actions to reduce the risk of being exposed. An outbreak is when a large number of people suddenly get sick.
- Stay informed
The media is covering many stories about coronavirus. We strongly recommend getting your information directly from the Australian Government
- Practice safe hygiene practices
It is important that everyone ensures they are regularly washing their hands for at least 20 seconds, focussing on palms, top of hands, in-between fingers and under nails.
Communicate this with your support workers too.
- Review your required support
Consider your essential supports and how they will be managed if there is a change in circumstance. Have a plan for informal support options in case your support workers are unable to attend shifts (e.g. if they are unwell or there is a required isolation period).
- Plan for illness
In the event that you or your family are unwell, do you have a separate room to reduce cross infection? Ensure you have enough supplies (personal items, food, medication, etc) for the two weeks you may be isolated for.
- Emotional wellbeing
Take care of your emotional health (and those of your household members). Outbreaks can be stressful for adults and children. Talk with your children about the outbreak, try to stay calm, and reassure them.
Consider your risk exposure
Reducing exposure is especially important for people at higher risk. You may like to complete a risk assessment of the potential exposure and potential impact regarding COVID-19. Things to consider are:
- Your health
Are you prone to illness, do you have a low immune system, do you have lung or heart disease, do you have diabetes?
- Your community
Who are you exposed to, and who are they exposed to? Eg. You have two children who attend school and various social clubs. Your support worker also works in a hospital in the emergency department, and catches public transport to your home when providing support to you.
- Your environment
Are you working in the city, commuting by public transport? Are you often in places with high volumes of people? Are you in areas where you are unable to wash your hands regularly, or access hand sanitiser?
Below are some questions which can act as a guide when preparing for the current Coronavirus pandemic.
- Are you or someone you care for at higher risk?
- If you require regular medication, do you have 2-4 weeks supply?
- Do you have a month's supply of equipment/stock e.g medical equipment, pads, catheter bags etc.
- Have you planned for possible periods of home isolation?
- Have you spoken to your support workers about plans, expectations, and communication if you, a family member or a support worker is sick?
- Have you thought about other ways you can receive support if there are restrictions orlock downs in place? What would you do if you’re in isolation? Instead of having a support worker assist you at the supermarket, perhaps you could shop online?
- Have you communicated with friends/family around the high risk within your home? It might be worth explaining to friends and family that you are more susceptible to becoming very unwell if you contract COVID-19.
Staying connected to your community
If you or someone you know is in isolation, there are a number of ways you could keep your community connection strong.
- Use video conference tools (e.g. Skype or Facetime) to chat with your support workers
- Embrace meal delivery service
- Instead of meeting your friend at the cafe, have a virtual catch up using Facetime
- Instead of heading to the gym, give an online exercise class a go! Check out down-dog. They are offering free membership until April for online yoga!
- Using shopping online instead of going to the supermarket
- Review your routine. Can you increase support for one shift and reduce another? For example, shower in the morning when you have someone assisting you get up, rather than the evening to reduce a contact point.
What to do if you’re unwell
If you are feeling unwell and have symptoms of COVID-19, please phone your doctor. It is important to call before attending in person. Tell your doctor about your symptoms, travel history and any recent close contact with someone who has COVID-19.
You can stay up to date with any advice and developments on the Australian Government website.
Please contact Hireup immediately if you or someone you have been in contact with has tested positive for COVID-19, or is being tested due to risk.
Find out more about Hireup's COVID-19 Response.