For any teams required to don and doff PPE to provide care, the following video will be a great refresher on the required technique.
Staff Update 13 October 2021
As you will no doubt be aware, NSW as a State has now reached the specified 70% double vaccination point for all people aged 16 years and above. As a result, the State has commenced to open up again and some of the COVID-19 restrictions that have been in place for many weeks, have been lifted. This re-opening process commenced yesterday, with further restrictions to be eased once the State reaches the 80% double vaccination point for all people aged 16 years and above.
Given this, in addition to a positive COVID-19 case within our client group, we have enacted our Pandemic Management plan as advised on Friday, 8 October 2021.
What does this mean for Mercy Services?
At this point, we are unsure in many respects. As society starts to open up and return to some sort of normality, we do not know the challenges that we will face as a business as we all start to live with COVID-19 as best we can. We are, however, following all Government press conferences and media releases, as well as Health Orders that are in place.
At this point in time we do know that our Day Centres will re-open from Monday, 18 October 2021 for all clients who have had both their COVID-19 vaccinations and are post 14-days from the last vaccination so that the vaccination has had time to become effective. For Transport, we are still working through the advice to determine what services are possible.
There are still other areas we are unsure of and once we receive updated information we will let staff know.
What about staff COVID-19 Vaccinations?
We are beyond pleased to report that 98.5% of our staff have commenced their vaccination journey against COVID-19. The vast majority of staff have already had both their vaccinations shots.
For our Singleton Residential Facility, it was mandated by the Government that all staff entering an Aged Care Residential Facility must be fully vaccinated. This mandate became effective for first dose vaccinations by 17 September 2021 and pleasingly, all staff actively working at the Facility met this vaccination deadline with ease.
NSW Health have also mandated COVID-19 vaccinations for their funded services and programs and again, all Mercy staff working in these areas have also met this vaccination requirement with ease within the set deadlines.
For other staff working within community, the Government continues to discuss this. Our understanding through our weekly attendance at sector-wide meetings that include NSW Health and Government representatives, is that a mandate by the Government will be given in the coming weeks that COVID-19 vaccinations are mandatory for anyone working within community with the aged and vulnerable.
We thank all our staff who have participated in the national vaccination program so far, 98.5% is an amazing result and one we should all be very proud to have been a part of.
Will Mercy Services be mandating that all staff have COVID-19 Vaccinations?
Yes. It is the intention of Mercy Services to mandate COVID-19 Vaccinations for all staff moving forward. This will stand even if a mandate from the Government is not forthcoming. Mercy Services still has a duty of care under Work, Health and Safety legislation to do everything possible to protect the health and wellbeing of its workers when they are undertaking their duties. Mercy Services therefore holds that being vaccinated against COVID-19 is a necessary part of every employee’s role within the organisation and is therefore a lawful and reasonable expectation.
Currently our industry peak body, Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA) is working with lawyers to provide a template policy to member organisations. Once ACSA releases this template policy, we will amend it to suit our organisation specifically and distribute it to staff for consultation. Within this process, it is Mercy’s intention to set a deadline date for COVID-19 Vaccination that will be applicable to all staff, volunteers and contractors.
All new staff to Mercy Services will need to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as part of their employment requirements.
What about staff who have not commenced their COVID-19 Vaccination journey as yet?
At this point in time, we will be approaching this on a case-by-case basis with a risk management perspective taken into account.
The majority of staff who have already commenced their COVID-19 Vaccination journey have provided us with a copy of their vaccination status and for those who have not, we will have to look closely at the tasks these staff members have been rostered to perform and make decisions from there. For example, if the staff member has not been vaccinated or has not provided us with appropriate evidence of their vaccination, then the staff member may not be able to go shopping for a client? This is because the risk to the staff member performing their duties in such an uncontrollable environment like a supermarket, may not be appropriate for them and may place them in the path of risk or potential harm. Mercy has a duty of care for the health and safety of not only the people who we support but also all its workers, so we would have to look at this situation closely and consider things like re-rostering the employee elsewhere or putting in place other measures to control any risk that might be present. That is what organisations are required to do under WHS Legislation and Mercy takes its responsibilities in this area very seriously.
What about the information staff have already provided to Mercy regarding their COVID-19 Vaccination status?
We thank everyone who has provided this information thus far for doing so. The information is being kept confidentially on employee files, with a summary of information in an easy accessible spreadsheet that only restricted members of Mercy Services has access to on strictly an as needed basis. We continue to use this information to report statistics to the Government each week in relation to staff vaccination rates. This is a mandatory requirement for organisations like ours. We will also be using this information in the coming weeks to make note on our rostering systems. This will assist us with ensuring we are not rostering people who may be at increased risk in situations where risk may not be able to be controlled (for example supermarkets). This is part of Mercy’s risk management strategy around the COVID-19 Pandemic. If you have any concerns about this notification being placed on our rostering system, please speak you your Manager as soon as possible.
Will Mercy Services be assessing the people who we support to see if they have been vaccinated against COVID-19?
Yes. The gathering of this information has already commenced and will form part of Mercy’s risk management strategy approach. As the State opens back up instances of COVID-19 will occur more and we are very aware that the people who we support, their families and friends, together with our staff members and their families and friends, will develop COVID-19 in the weeks and months ahead. We therefore need this information to best protect everyone when this occurs and ensure additional PPE and support is available so business operations stand the best chance of continuing smoothly in what will no doubt be a bit of a rocky road ahead.
Who can I talk to if I have Questions?
If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to talk to your Manager, Head of Department, People and Culture or myself. Once again as we have started to become used to, this continues to be an ever evolving situation that is changing nearly daily.
Once again a reminder, please ensure you are keeping your Mercy mobiles on and charged at all times in case we need to make contact you in the event of a COVID-19 situation. Please also continue to regularly check your emails each day.