Dear Valmar Client/Family Member/Guardian 

CV-19 is now active in most, and perhaps all, of our communities. There are large numbers of new cases being identified every day and, as of writing, Australia now has approximately 4,000 confirmed cases. Consequently, the Commonwealth Government/National Cabinet has introduced even stricter Social Distancing measures as of last night.

Social Gatherings ( Indoor and Outdoor Public Gatherings ) are now limited to 2 people. All people are strongly recommended to stay home. Exceptions to this are…

  • People of the same household going out together, so group home residents and staff can go out together, but it is strongly not recommended. 2 people as a maximum out and about should be the goal.
  • Funerals which have a limit of 10
  • Weddings which have a limit of 5
  • Family units.

National Cabinet’s strong guidance is for all Australians to stay home unless for….

  • Shopping for necessary supplies ( and best if one person becomes the dedicated shopper )
  • Medical and health needs
  • Exercise ( 2 people max together )
  • And work and study if unable to do this from home.

Additionally, National Cabinet strongly recommend that self-isolation is practiced to the maximum extent by staying at home for….

  • All people over 70 years of age
  • All people over 60 years of age with existing health conditions or comorbidities
  • Indigenous Australians over the age of 50 with existing health conditions or comorbidities.

So what do these mean for you and for Valmar’s services. In addition to practicing consistent excellence in infection control, in no particular order.…..

  • All clients over 70 should seriously contemplate remaining in their homes, and our support should be structured to encourage and enable this as far as possible.
  • All clients over 60 with any comorbidities or health conditions should also seriously contemplate remaining in their homes, and our support should be structured to encourage and enable this as far as possible.
  • Additionally, as many disabilities compromise people’s immune responses and health resilience, this should be factored into all thinking around services provided, social interactions and social distancing.
  • All volunteers over 70 are no longer to be used in any role that requires them to leave their houses.
  • All volunteers over 60 with comorbidities or health conditions are no longer to be used in any role that requires them to leave their houses.
  • All indigenous Australian volunteers over the age of 50, with health conditions or comorbidities, are no longer to be used in any role that requires them to leave their homes.
  • Paid staff who fit into any of these three identified high risk groups are highly recommended to stand down and not attend work with Valmar ( or any other employer ) unless they can work from home and have approval to do so. At this stage neither the Government nor Valmar is forcing or requiring people in these high-risk cohorts to stay home, but are strongly recommending that they do.
  • Community Transport should now not offer nor provide any group trips. All trips should be 1:1.
  • All other services, with the exception of group houses where the clients live together, should also try to limit travel to 1:1 trips as far as possible.
  • All services, especially group houses, should have one or two “designated shoppers” who do all the shopping, and shopping should be for essentials only and follow strict hand washing and infection minimization compliance requirements.
  • Our ADE ( Business Services ) will still be operating, but practicing Social Distancing in the workplace and with any members of the public or other services who attend the workplace.
  • 1:1 social, day programs ( Aged and Disabled ) , and CDI type support can continue, but it appears that the previous inside and outside limits no longer apply and so any group activities must now cease. This is the least clear of the areas as these services are “workplaces” for staff, but social gathering for clients so it could be deemed to be ok to have 2 clients and 1 or 2 staff, or it might be seen as appropriate to have only 2 people together at any time, regardless of their role. I will be seeking further guidance on this.

A special mention is required around the capability of external providers to “drop-in” to some of our group houses to deliver their day support that otherwise was delivered in a group or centre-based settings. This is theoretically possible, but logistically problematic, as it will increase the number of Social Interactions our clients and staff have ( and the staff from the other organisations have ) and would often cause the houses to have more than 2 staff ( visitors ) at a particular time. Add to this that families may also drop-in and the challenge multiplies. I will be seeking further guidance on this, but for now everyone must be very mindful that the entire purpose of all this in to maximize Social Distancing and minimize Social Interactions.

There will be further updates as information comes to hand.

Finally, the seasonal flu vaccine ( not CV-19 ) is now, or will very shortly be available and, as in earlier years, Valmar will pay for staff to have this shot and have it as soon as possible, as indications are that if you were to contract CV-19 and the flu together it could be far more serious risk that having CV-19 on its own, or the flu on its own. For the same reasons it would be prudent to consider approving or arranging for the flu shot this year for all clients ASAP.

Keep safe.

Hugh Packard  
Chief Executive Officer
30th March 2020


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