COVID-19 information for Mental Health Commission service providers

Published on 17 Mar 2020

The below information and advice is provided for our important partners ...

The Government has released an updated Pandemic Plan, which provides practical guidance and advice for government agencies, private businesses, the community, households and individuals. This includes the following: 

  • Whilst no amount of preparation can prevent emergencies from happening, being prepared assists communities to respond to, and recover more swiftly from, an emergency. The National Strategy for Disaster Resilience recognises that resilience to emergencies is a shared responsibility for individuals, households, communities, and governments. Everyone has a responsibility to be prepared for and to assist in managing emergencies that may affect them, as well as having an important role in reducing the impacts and consequences. The WA Government encourages individuals, families and community groups to prepare for a pandemic.
  • Local communities, the not-for-profit sector and relevant businesses should develop plans to enable continued delivery of community support services, particularly those where greater needs or risks may be present during a pandemic.

As such, the Commission would encourage all organisations to ensure that there are plans in place should disruptions occur. This may include general business continuity arrangements as well as plans specific to your service/s, such as staffing, hygiene practices, essential goods and consumer wellbeing. 

We acknowledge the preparation and planning that the community services sector has undertaken to ensure service continuity and appreciate that many of you are modifying your practices where possible, keeping people safe while on your premises and complying with the principles of social distancing.  

Keep up to date

  • As this is a rapidly changing situation, we encourage you to keep abreast of the recommendations on the Healthy WA and the Department of Health websites, which are being updated daily with the latest medical advice and official reports.
  • The Department of Health website also has useful resources for the general public, health professionals and industry, and helpful information is also available on the Healthy WA Facebook page.
  • The MHC has mental health related information on our website and Facebook
  • BHP has established a $50 million Vital Resources Fund to assist regional communities in its areas of operations. Details can be found here.

If you suspect you may have coronavirus symptoms or may have had close contact with a person who has coronavirus, you should contact the Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080

Notifiable disease

Please note that on 29 January 2020, COVID-19 was declared an urgently notifiable disease under Part 9 of the Public Health Act 2016. Any medical practitioner or nurse practitioner attending a patient whom he/she knows or suspects has a notifiable infectious disease or a related condition has a legal obligation to report the diagnosis to the Western Australian Department of Health. For more information, please go to the ‘Notification of Infectious Diseases and Related Conditions’ page on the WA Department of Health’s website: https://ww2.health.wa.gov.au/Articles/N_R/Notification-of-infectious-diseases-and-related-conditions  

Our Planning

  • The Department of Premier and Cabinet, Department of Finance and the Department of Health are developing a whole-of-government approach to the possible impacts of the COVID-19 on community services. The Mental Health Commission (MHC) is involved in this process and will update our NGO stakeholders as the situation progresses. 
  • The WA Government is continuing to work closely with the Commonwealth and other State and Territory governments to respond to the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
  • The MHC is working closely with other government agencies to provide a consolidated and consistent approach across the sector. 
  • A number of taskforces are being established to identify and implement practical measures that help protect vulnerable cohorts and provide guidance based on what is currently known about COVID-19. Guidance and support will be updated and communicated as needed, and as further information becomes available. 
  • The taskforces will work closely together and with community sector representatives to address the specific needs for our vulnerable Western Australians. 
  • These taskforces will support and complement response planning that is already being undertaken by peak organisations and community service providers. The work of these groups will help to ensure the needs of high-risk cohorts and populations are well understood and taken into consideration in the development of a response plan.
  • A high-level risk assessment has been undertaken by the MHC on our community services contracted programs. We intend to work closely with the peak bodies and community services sector to create a shared understanding of the impact and risks. The Department of Finance is now considering the management and maintenance of contracts from a sector-wide perspective and we will provide further direction as we receive it. 
  • Organisations remain responsible for procuring their own PPE such as hand sanitiser and masks. We are aware there is a national shortage of PPE and that even many front line clinical services are struggling to meet their needs, however we are continuing to advocate for NGOs to be given consideration as part of overall government planning. Unfortunately the Commission is not able to procure any PPE.

We are committed to sending you regular updates as further information becomes available to ensure that you are well supported through this situation.

In the meantime, if you have any concerns that are not able to be addressed by the information above please advise communications@mhc.wa.gov.au, or contact your contract manager if your service should be disrupted or cease to operate at any time.

 

Looking after your mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic

 

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