Dear Autism SA community,
This evening I am writing to provide an update on the steps that Autism SA has taken to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our clients, staff, families and the wider community in the light of the state-wide social distancing restrictions and directives announced today.
From today we understand that many individuals and families are working from home or stuck at home for one reason or another and we know that this can bring several challenges at the best of times, let alone when we are living in these uncertain times.
Our online supports and services at Autism SA will be fully operating over the lockdown period (estimated by our State Government to be the next 6 days). Wherever possible, we will continue to provide safe support to our community while ensuring we are meeting the new social distancing requirements in response to the news of what’s being called the “Parafield cluster” in Adelaide.
I thank all of you who were able to transition in and out of online services and supports earlier this year when we experienced similar restrictions. Your assistance and understanding then will hopefully be of benefit to make this second transition possible and effective.
If you or your family member is unable to receive support or otherwise interact with Autism SA online, then please do not hesitate to contact your Autism SA staff member, email us or call your Pathways team on 1300 288 476 and we’ll work with you to find a possible, alternative solution.
If you are scheduled to receive services and supports from Autism SA over the lockdown period, you should be hearing from your Autism SA therapist (via phone or email) as we’re intending on checking in on each of you in the face of these trying times. Please discuss any of your needs, challenges, suggestions and requests during these calls so we can provide you with the best we are allowed to offer at this time.
We are in discussions with the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) to determine how they will be supporting individuals who have been forced to purchase protective equipment and technology and cancel face-to-face and other services due to the State Government’s lockdown directive. It is my understanding that, in Victoria (who recently experienced a lockdown), special provisions were made. I will be updating you as soon as we receive confirmation or any clarification of these accommodations.
As Autism SA’s CEO and a member of the Autism SA COVID-19 Task Force, I will again assume the role of being the main source of organisational communications relating to our activities centred upon safeguarding our workforce, clients, families, and community. I will be circulating updates to our community of clients, families, and others as and when any new information and directives come to pass. If you have any queries for me or the Autism SA Team, please do not hesitate to email the Task Force or call our Pathways team on 1300 288 476.
In the remainder of this update, I am providing information on the following topics:
Who we are relying upon for official information, advice, and alerts
Autism SA continues to closely monitor COVID-19 updates, consulting three main sources of health a safety information. These are:
Social distancing means changes to the way some supports and services are delivered during “lockdown”
To adapt to this latest COVID-19 situation, we are making positive changes to the way we operate and making sure that we are providing the safest and most compliant supports and services available. At the time of writing this letter, we have been told by the State Government that the current restrictions will remain in place for at least 6 days, effective from midnight tonight.
This means that you may be contacted about changes to the way we can interact with our clients and their families. More of our supports will need to be offered online, to meet the restrictions and it’s likely that plans will need to be changed for outings, home visits and supported living. It is also likely that staff will need to wear protective masks in accordance with the SA Health directive.
Please contact your Pathways Team on 1300 288 476 or speak to your key contact person at Autism SA to enquire how we may have transitioned the service and/or supports we offer. You’re welcome to make any suggestions too!
What to do if you are unwell
If you or the person you’re caring for feels unwell or is concerned they may have been in contact with COVID-19, we recommend that you follow SA Health’s advice immediately. SA Health has listed Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19 and I recommend you visit this link if you would like to know more about what to do if you’re feeling unwell over the next week-to-a- fortnight.
Mental health and wellbeing supports
Many of us have experienced significant stress this year, which is understandable when there is a health event happening in the community that is affecting people’s wellbeing and financial security, such as the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
To support the mental health of South Australians during this time SA Health has established a Virtual Support Network of services based locally in SA. Their website provides information about the Virtual Support Network services and other resources for mental health support during this challenging time.
We also recommend you take a note of the state’s Mental Health Support Line: Call 1800 632 753 or chat online at SA COVID-19 Mental Health support line. Available 8.00 am to 8.00 pm, seven days a week.
Tell me how we can help you further
The Autism SA team will continue to develop new services and supports, and we would really like to hear from you if you have a good idea that would benefit our autism community across SA.
Your suggestions are most welcome and please send them to us via email@example.com or call our InfoLine (1300 288 476) to describe it to us and we’ll do our best to work out how to make it happen!
I know that many of our clients, families and our extended family of supporters and staff are concerned about the future just now and I thank each and every one of you for your ongoing patience and respect for your Autism SA team. We are here for you and we will do everything we can reasonably do to support you and your family.
If you have any questions or feedback around how Autism SA is managing the COVID-19 situation, please send them to me via email.
We continue to face these challenges together and Autism SA will, once again, do our upmost to ensure that we provide the services and supports that are needed by our community.
Until my next update, take care and you’re welcome to ask us any questions.
CEO – Autism SA
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