UnitingCare West is deeply concerned about the impacts of COVID-19 on our team, the people we support and the broader community. This page will be updated regularly.
Page last updated: 23 March 2020
Latest update: Monday 23 March 2020 - Actions to enable continued critical services
UnitingCare West has today taken additional steps to ensure the safety of our team, the people we support and the community in the new paradigm of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Our Pandemic Response Plan has already served to educate and promote good hygiene, implement flexible working practices, reduce face-to-face contact wherever possible, postpone volunteering, suspend group-based activities, and ensure social distancing and self-isolation practices are upheld.
From Tuesday 24 March, we are suspending all non-critical face-to-face services to the people we support, until further notice. We will continue to provide essential critical services that are needed to maintain the health and wellbeing of the people we support.
Additionally, we are instructing our team who do not provide critical services to people we support to work from home, wherever possible.
We continue to actively engage with the people we support to inform them about COVID-19 and reassure people how our team will continue to support them throughout this crisis.
Critical face-to-face services continuing with improved safety
- Tranby Centre and Homelessness services, including expanded outreach
- Family Group Homes
- My Home / supported accommodation
- Welfare checks on participants when uncontactable by phone/email.
Additional precautions and safety measures
- All staff observing strict hygiene practices and social distancing
- Minimising teams working across different services
- Non-critical home visits and face-to-face appointments will become to phone/video support
- Group and community activities postponed until further notice
- Where possible, our team are to work from home
- Volunteer support postponed until further notice
- Minimising visitor and community access to services and offices.
We are working to adopt innovative, new ways of continuing non-critical services over the phone, via video conference and through methods which do not require close contact.
The deeply serious nature of COVID-19 in our community has meant these carefully considered changes are necessary to support the health and wellbeing of our team, our families, the people we support and the broader community.
We will continue to be guided by advice from WA Health and other authorities as well as taking additional measures to protect the health and wellbeing of people wherever appropriate.
We will keep you informed
We’ll continue to review our response to the outbreak and provide regular updates to our team, our volunteers, the people we support and their families.
Please contact your support worker if you have a question or concern.
For up to date information, we recommend you regularly visit the following websites:
Coronavirus information from the Australian Government Department of Health
Coronavirus Information in Easy Read from WA's Individualised Services
Coronavirus information in other languages from the Australian Government Department of Health
Coronavirus information in other languages from Ethnolink Language Services
COVID-19 Updates from the Financial Counselors' Association of WA
Looking after your mental health during the coronavirus outbreak from Beyond Blue
Frequently Asked Questions
Read the FAQ as a PDF here.
We will do our best to keep all of the people we support informed of the situation as it evolves. This includes direct conversations, emails, phone calls, SMS text messages and information on our website. If you have any questions or concerns about our response to the situation, please speak with your regular support worker or call us on 1300 663 298.
Yes, we are minimising non-essential visitor and community access and asking that no one enter if they have any of the symptoms which indicate COVID-19 infection. People are asked to phone us instead on 1300 663 298.
Do not panic. Speak with your support worker and self-isolate yourself immediately, as best you can.
We will assess the risk to you and let you know what actions will need to be taken. Remember, being at the same location as someone with a confirmed case does not always mean you have been in close contact.
Depending on the situation, UCW will follow advice from WA Health and determine the best course of action for any location where a case of COVID-19 has been recorded. Maintaining the health and wellbeing of our team, the people we support and the community is an absolute priority for UCW.
Yes. In order to prevent spread of COVID-19, we have suspended all group-based services and programs provided by UnitingCare West. This does not currently include Tranby Centre. This decision has been made in line with guidelines from the Department of Communities and social distancing requirements by the Australian Government.
It’s very difficult to say but we expect COVID-19 to be around for at least the next few months. We will keep you up-to-date as much as possible and please continue to speak with your support worker.
We greatly value the important contribution our volunteers make in serving our community and the people we support. All non-essential volunteer work with UCW has been postponed from 17 March 2020 until further notice.
This difficult decision has been made to protect the health and wellbeing of our volunteers, our team and the people we support.
FAQ - Tranby Centre and Homelessness Services
Yes, Tranby is still operating every day from 7am-7pm, with a reset time of 1pm-2:30pm each day.
At this stage, it’s too early to tell. UnitingCare West is working closely with St. Patrick’s Community Support Centre and Ruah Community Services to ensure our combined homelessness services have a combined, coordinated response to COVID-19.
All three homelessness services are dedicated to remaining open and providing supports for people as long as possible.
We are working to reduce and manage the risks to our team and the people we support by:
Screening and temperature-reading people to identify COVID-like symptoms before entry
Directing people to the COVID-19 clinic at Royal Perth Hospital where symptoms are found
Requiring people to clean their hands with hand sanitiser before entry
Restricting numbers of people inside Tranby Centre at any one time to 15 people only, in 45 minute intervals with 15 minutes to clean the space between each session
Education and directions to COVID-19 clinics inside and at the door
Ensuring that priority is always given people experiencing rough sleeping
Promoting good hygiene practices consistently and regularly.
We have a roster of team-members to ensure that Tranby Centre can continue to operate if any of the team are required to go into self-isolation.
Yes, although getting access to food is becoming more difficult. We are providing takeaway food and drink options wherever possible and providing vouchers for people to buy their own food.
We are seeking help from the community to assist us with food donations as several regular sources are no longer available, such as our volunteer-based Food Rescue service.
We welcome donations of non-perishable food and drinks, sanitary items, cleaning products and freshly made packaged food (suitable for takeaway). Thankfully, we have plenty of toilet paper.
Our Assertive Outreach services continue Monday to Friday 6:30am to 11:30am and have the capacity to respond to community requests.
Screening of people is done at a safe distance before further support is offered. Outreach workers are taking extra food supplies to support people who may not have accessed Tranby or other day centres. COVID-19 education and care resources are given to people experiencing rough sleeping.
The properties used for our Homeless Accommodation Support Service (HASS) remain open with additional cleaning, hygiene education, screening and other safety measures.
FAQ - Individualised Services - NDIS / Disability
Yes, the majority of 1:1 support services are still being provided. Given the rapidly evolving situation, we will continue to review and assess our services and any potential impacts on you, a member of the UCW team and the broader community.
Yes, we have arranged pools of workers to restrict the risks of infection to people who receive between 8 and 24 hours of support per day. If a different worker is going to support a participant, we will make every effort to let people know prior to the change.
In the event a worker becomes unavailable and we are unable to provide an appropriate replacement, we will contact participants as soon as possible. This will be more likely to occur where people are supported between 3 and 6 hours per week.
To protect people with disability, UnitingCare West is suspending all group-based Community Options support, effective Monday 23 March 2020. Community Options will continue with 1:1 support only.
Guidelines from the Department of Communities Disability Services have recommended that:
Any workers supporting people with disability limit face to face contact wherever possible
Organisations to take into account the vulnerability of particular individuals when undertaking community access activities and consider undertaking activities in open, less populated locations.
Unfortunately, we are unable to meet these guidelines in group support settings, so we are acting in order to ensure the safety of the people we support, our team and the broader community.
Outside visitors are being minimised where possible. If a family member would like to visit, please contact your Operations Lead.
Our scheduling team are also working to restrict the pool of staff working in each home, so as to reduce the risk of infection.