Health and safety

Can I access reusable face masks for my vulnerable clients?

In some circumstances. The TAC is not providing clients with face masks due to COVID-19. However, the Department of Health and Human Services has announced it will be distributing reusable face masks to vulnerable Victorians. Please see the Who can get a free face mask in Victoria factsheet on the DHHS website to learn more about who can access the masks, when the masks will be available and what types of masks will be distributed.

How has the TAC been responding to the COVID-19 situation?

The TAC has been taking the necessary steps to address impacts to our clients, their providers and our staff.

In line with Victorian Government guidelines, many of TAC staff are working remotely.

The TAC is following advice from the Department of Health. This means that until further notice TAC staff are not meeting with TAC clients in person. We are using other appropriate channels to maintain contact and give our clients the ongoing support they need.

We also have business continuity plans in place to ensure that we can continue to support our clients and providers, regardless of where our staff are working.

We continue to work with government, health agencies and our providers to make sure our clients receive the care they need with minimal disruption.

How do providers access the National Medical Stockpile (NMS) of PPE?

Distribution of the NMS for General Practitioners (GPs) and pharmacists is being undertaken by Primary Health Networks (PHNs) across Australia. PHNs are required to follow guidelines around which healthcare providers can access the stockpile and who will be prioritised. If PPE cannot be accessed through commercial channels they should contact the relevant PHN in their region.

Providers of residential care, including TAC funded disability supported accommodation, should submit requests for PPE directly to the Department of Health and Human Services via the Requests for Personal Protective Equipment webpage.

How can I encourage my client to stay healthy and active during COVID-19?

There are many online resources that you can refer clients to that will assist them in eating well and staying active.

The VicHealth blog has information about healthy eating, physical activity and mental wellbeing.

The Get Active Victoria website has cardio, strength and core workouts that can be done at home.

Aerobase has an online aerobics program for adults and children with disability.

How can providers safely deliver support and services to TAC clients?

All providers are encouraged to review their business continuity and contingency plans to ensure they can deliver critical support and services for TAC clients whilst limiting their risk of exposure to COVID-19.

The TAC recognises and supports providers’ need to potentially reduce community access and some face to face contacts whilst ensuring continuity of critical service and support needs, and staff health, safety and availability.

What if I need to reduce my service capacity?

Providers should communicate regularly with clients regarding any changes to regular services and explain the reasons for this change.

Please contact the TAC if you have reduced service capacity that you feel will negatively impact on the client’s health and safety.

What are the expectations around infection control?

Health and disability providers are expected to have infection control protocols in place to help detect and control the spread of any infections and ensure safe work practices.

For this reason the TAC can not pay for rubber gloves, hand disinfectants and other consumables that should be provided as part of usual service.

Providers are expected to communicate regularly with their workforce and ensure they follow correct infection control practices to minimise the risk to clients and themselves. Further information regarding infection control practices can be found on the DHHS website.

Worldwide personal protective equipment (PPE) stocks are under pressure from the pandemic. The TAC encourages providers to follow the World Health Organisation interim guidelines for the rational use of PPE. You can also access a video from the Australian Government Department of Health on wearing personal protective equipment for disability support workers.

Can I ask the TAC for a client’s COVID-19 status?

The TAC is bound by privacy laws and may not be able to disclose a client’s COVID-19 status to you. If you are seeking this information you will need to ask the client’s claims manager. The claims manager will work with the TAC privacy team to determine if this information can be shared. You will then be notified either that the information cannot be disclosed, or can be shared. If the information can be shared, the claims staff member will be required to continue to work within TAC legislation and policy.