The COVID-19 restrictions have affected everyone significantly, and of course that has affected Anglicare as well. As restrictions rolled out, we were affected early because the office downstairs is very small and couldn’t meet the social distancing laws. Later, the decision was made that Anglicare Community Services (the broad section that I sit in) would not see any clients face-to-face. Similarly, Anglicare shops closed to avoid accidentally putting people at risk. Since then I have been assisting clients over the phone.
Mikel (not his real name) is an aged pensioner with health issues in the “at risk” category, so he was self-isolating at home. He pays a mortgage from his pension and recently had to pay for some essential repairs, so he had no money for food and his health was suffering. I organised a Woolworths Basics box which was delivered to his house about a week later. The box contained non-perishable food like pasta and tuna. He made a point of ringing back to thank me and said it made all the difference. He declined further assistance as he said he could live on the stimulus payment for several weeks.
Clare (not her real name either) had been working at a restaurant for 11 months so was not eligible for the JobKeeper payment. She rang me stressed about not being able to pay rent and mentioned a problem with her tyres. I told her to get it checked out immediately and she discovered they could blow out at any time, putting the life of her children at risk. The mechanic provided two second-hand tyres for free, and Anglicare paid for the other tyres so that she could drive her car safely. This was all organised over the phone.
Things have been quieter for the last couple of weeks. Many may now be receiving one of the new payments, but others may not know to come to us for assistance.
Newmarch House: Although some news reports have been unfavourable, elsewhere I have only heard that there is a peaceful atmosphere in the home and staff are continuing to provide compassionate and high-quality care to residents. Sadly 18 residents have died due to the outbreak and they are mourned by family, friends and staff. Despite the restrictions, Newmarch was able to organise 22 areas where residents could see visitors for Mothers’ Day.
Dr James Branley, an infectious diseases specialist from Nepean Hospital, has been working at the home since the start of the outbreak. An independent advisor has been appointed to support the management of Newmarch House over the next three months. He will ensure compliance with all the Aged Care Quality Standards.