SERVICES to support vulnerable people are increasingly important as uncertainty grows over the impact of COVID-19 in regional South Australia.
“The impacts of these events will be broad on many sectors of society, adding pressure on those already facing financial and other hardships,” ac.care chief executive officer Shane Maddocks said.
“We will continue to be there for country South Australians, especially the many vulnerable people among our clients, and must continue to support people in any way we can, perhaps more than ever.”
ac.care sites and services remain open in the Limestone Coast, Riverland and Murraylands, with measures implemented to safeguard clients, employees, volunteers and site visitors in response to concerns regarding the spread of COVID-19.
“We are resilient, resourceful and will be guided by our values of compassion and adaptability more than ever - it is unprecedented times, however we are prepared and have plans in place to manage disruptions to our work as they arise due to the current situation,” Mr Maddocks said.
The broad social welfare agency is reviewing its operations daily to identify emerging issues and has increased some of its emergency relief services to clients due to additional hardships faced in the current situation.
“We continue to work to ensure the provision of our services is safe for clients, staff, volunteers and other visitors and will make adjustments as necessary, based on the latest advice from relevant authorities,” Mr Maddocks said.
“Helping to meet the needs of vulnerable people, such as children in state care and people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, remains our priority.”
Changes implemented to mitigate risks posed by COVID-19 across ac.care sites include increased hygiene practices, moving meetings and client interactions away from face-to-face contact where possible and modifying staffing arrangements, including limiting travel and encouraging work from home.
Signs have also been placed at the entrances to ac.care sites urging those who may be at higher risk of carrying coronavirus to contact ac.care via phone on 1300 ACCARE (1300 222 273) rather than entering service areas and putting vulnerable clients and staff at risk.
“We have had to cease some non-essential services, including some group activities, and moved training and some other contact from face-to-face to other options, such as telephone contact, as we continue to implement measures to ensure our essential services to the community continue,” he said.
Mr Maddocks said it was important ac.care remained in a position to not just assist people while measures are in place to restrict the spread of coronavirus, but also as the economy recovers from the pandemic over the longer-term.
“It is too early to say how significant the impact will be, but it is likely to be broad and while figures of three to six months have been suggested for the immediate impact, it will be followed by a longer term of recovery and it is important agencies such as ours continue to be in a position to help those facing additional pressures,” Mr Maddocks said.