Dear All

With the Prime Minister announcing national Covid-19 Pandemic Shutdown measures yesterday, and the State and Territory leaders adding their requirements and elements today, I am writing to you to advise what this will mean for service operations at Valmar. I must stress that the PM is emphasising that this is a ‘Shutdown’ of non-essential social gatherings and groupings, rather than a complete ‘Lockdown’ as has been implemented overseas, in Italy and China particularly.

All Valmar Managers, myself and the Chairman of our Board of Directors met electronically this afternoon and so I can advise of the following changes and strategies.

  • Effective immediately, all our Centre-Based group recreation and leisure activities (deemed to be non-essential) will be wound back until further advice from Government. ‘Wound back’ will mean that these services will henceforth operate as 1:1 or very small group supports, respecting the 4m2 requirement per person in buildings, and not attending any external events or gatherings and, where appropriate and possible, providing their support directly to clients in their own group homes. Betty Banks is the person to contact at Valmar about the logistics of these changes.
  • Valmar’s CDI Services in Tumut, Yass and Queanbeyan will also wind back as far as possible from Group Activities to smaller group activities that comply with the 4m2 rule. Our CDI services are deemed as being closely comparable to schools and, as NSW schools are not closing, neither will our CDI service at this time. Clients and their families will be contacted on an individual basis to work out the best Shutdown Compliant routine for them. If Valmar can’t sufficiently reduce the numbers attending our CDI services on any particular day, and can’t find an alternative staffed activity for people, we will unfortunately have to limit the number of people attending and advise clients that services are full to Shutdown capacity. Craig Van Rijswijk is the contact Manager at Valmar about the logistics of these changes.
  • We are requesting that our clients and staff stay home if they are unwell with a respiratory illness until symptoms clear up. The Valmar Health and Contact Declaration, or something like it, is now absolutely standard practice in health, community services, and even commercial sector operations. We will be expanding its use to cover not only staff and clients, but also all visitors to all our services, including family members.
  • Non-essential travel will be reduced or eliminated.
  • Meetings will be postponed or held electronically.
  • Essential Payroll, Finance and other vital administration functions will be able to, and resourced to, work remotely from home if required.
  • Other organisations and service providers are similarly winding back, cutting back or closing. So, Valmar is working on a service by service level to ensure we have the staff to cover the additional hours of support that will be required in our Group Homes - this may mean redeploying staff from our Day Program or CDI Valmar services and in the event of staff shortages, expanding the hours of existing staff. Not knowing how the Covid-19 will impact, there may even be a need to utilise staff from “other” service providers or agencies on a needs basis, if required.
  • All this will change how your NDIS Plan utilisation might look; so, where necessary, we will be in contact to work on this with you.
  • The NDIA have announced that they will be making Individual NDIS Plans more flexible, easier to vary, potentially in place for 24 months, and somewhat more certain for service providers. The fine details of all this and how it will work are not yet available.
  • Some of your usual staff may be highly “infection risk-averse”, due to factors such as age, co-morbidity, family members’ vulnerability or similar, and so we do anticipate that some staff might unexpectedly rule themselves out from continuing to work, despite being in good health themselves, and their clients also remaining in good health. I would ask for your understanding of each person’s individual situation and decision making process if a change, such as this, does impact on you.

With cases continuing to increase, restrictions increasing almost daily, and a high degree of uncertainty and concern about the immediate and medium term future, there is no doubt I will be writing to you again about further changes and operational requirements.

All the best and keep well.

Hugh Packard
Chief Executive Officer


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