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The situation regarding the novel coronavirus COVID-19 continues to progress in NSW. We recognise this is impacting the homelessness sector both personally and professionally and we thank you for your continued efforts in supporting people experiencing or at risk of homelessness.

The Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ) is actively monitoring the situation and we’ll continue to provide regular updates.

On this page:

SHS COVID-19 Guidelines

The COVID-19 Guidelines for Specialist Homelessness Services (September 2021) (PDF, 3565.45 KB) include practical and relevant advice to SHS providers to assist in preventing, preparing and responding to COVID-19 and returning to regular service delivery after a COVID-19 incident.

Quick Reference Guides

Quick Reference Guides have been developed to assist SHS providers to respond to suspected and confirmed COVD-19 positive clients and staff members. The guides consist of ‘decision trees’ illustrating the key steps or actions SHS providers should take when a COVID incident occurs, including in relation to contacting and working with DCJ and the Public Health Unit. Refer:

SHS COVID-19 Checklists

Two checklists have been produced to assist SHS providers deal with a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 case:

Checklist 1 - Contacting Public Health Unit (PHU) for advice or reporting of positive COVID-19 client case (PDF, 194.94 KB)
This checklist will assist in communicating with the relevant PHU, when seeking advice on a suspected COVID-19 case or reporting a confirmed positive case.

Checklist 2 - Responding to a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 client case (PDF, 319.33 KB)
This checklist will support a robust and effective service response in the event of a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 case, within a Specialist Homelessness Service.

COVID-19 Lessons Learnt

Lessons learnt and shared by SHS Providers in responding to COVID-19 (PDF, 506.08 KB) draws from experiences shared by Specialist Homelessness Service (SHS) providers while operating during the current COVID-19 outbreak. The document summarises the lessons learnt from these experiences, organised into key themes. These lessons are shared to assist SHS providers to put effective practices in place to prevent or minimise the impact of COVID-19, and to plan for swift and efficient responses to COVID-19 incidents.

Notification of positive cases

If you receive a report of a client or staff member being infected, please check first with the local Public Health Unit by calling the state-wide number: 1300 066 055.

If the infection is confirmed, please immediately contact your DCJ Contract Manager to discuss an appropriate response.

Further information can be found in the SHS Covid-19 Guidelines (PDF, 3565.45 KB).

SHS Contingency Workforce Factsheet

A factsheet (PDF, 336.08 KB) has been developed to assist Specialist Homelessness Service (SHS) providers to plan for and access contingency staff to address or avoid staff shortages resulting from a COVID-19 incident or COVID-19 related systemic workforce impacts.

Maintaining essential services in a COVID-19 safe environment requires the following, which are addressed in the factsheet:

  • Practical forward planning
  • Connecting with networks for options and solutions
  • Communicating expectations to staff

COVID-19 training video

Two training videos have been produced to support implementation of the COVID-19 Guidelines for Specialist Homelessness Services (SHS).

Part 1 – Overview of Guidelines

Part one of the COVID-19 Training Video for SHS providers is an overview of the COVID-19 Guidelines and outlines the key steps that SHS providers need to take to:

  1. Prevent and prepare for a COVID-19 incident
  2. Respond to a COVID-19 incident
  3. Return to regular operations after a COVID-19 incident

To allow you to easily navigate the training video, we have indicated the key topics that are covered and the timings within the video that they are discussed. We have also included a reference to the accompanying written COVID-19 Guidelines for Specialist Homelessness Services, which will allow you to view the detailed guidance for each of these topics.

Topic

Time

Section of Guidelines

Overview of the COVID-19 Guidelines

01:42 – 04:01

Section 1

Overview of COVID-19 Safety Plans and Business Continuity Plans

04:13 – 06:58

Section 3.1

Using COVID-19 Safety Plans to mitigate COVID-19 risks

Including:

  • Implementing hygiene and cleaning practices
  • Encouraging physical distancing
  • Keeping records
  • Supporting the wellbeing of clients and staff members (including vaccinations)

07:00 – 09:23

Section 3.2 – Section 3.6

Planning for Business Continuity

Including:

  • Essential services vs non-essential (secondary) services
  • Plans and protocols to have in place
  • Workforce contingency planning

09:23 – 12:53

Section 4.1

Section 3.1

Section 3.7

Responding to a client who is a suspected case of COVID-19

13:00 – 16:09

Section 4.2

Responding to a client who is a confirmed case of COVID-19

16:10 – 19:50

Section 4.2

Further follow up for clients and staff members who have been exposed to COVID-19 within a facility

19:50 – 23:12

Section 4.2

Responding to staff members who are a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19

23:12 – 24:40

Section 8.2

Returning to regular operations after a COVID-19 incident

24:52 – 27:49

Section 3.9

Part 2 – Scenario Walkthrough

Part two of the COVID-19 Training Video for SHS providers explores how to prepare and respond to a COVID-19 incident in the following three scenarios:

  1. Congregate care settings
  2. Domestic and family violence refuges
  3. Youth refuges

To allow you to easily navigate the training video, we have indicated the key topics that are covered and the timings within the video that they are discussed. We have also included a reference to the accompanying written COVID-19 Guidelines for Specialist Homelessness Services, which will allow you to view the detailed guidance for each of these topics.

Topic

Time

Section of Guidelines

Congregate Care Settings

Including:

  • Supporting physical distancing in congregate care settings
  • Supporting clients to self-isolate
  • Managing the health needs of clients in self-isolation (incl. AOD needs and mental health needs)
  • Managing challenging behaviours
  • Responding to a positive case if there is a long delay between a notification and contact with the PHU

02:27 – 08:20

Section 4

Section 3.3

Domestic and Family Violence Refuges

Including:

  • Supporting families to self-isolate, including where parents may be separated from their children
  • Managing buildings, especially if a facility needs to deconcentrate completely
  • Helping clients find accommodation if your service does not have the capacity

08:30 – 12:42

Section 5

Youth Refuges

Including:

  • Helping children and young people to understand COVID-19
  • Supporting children and young people to self-isolate
  • Supporting children and young people’s wellbeing through COVID-19 outbreaks
  • Providing children and young people with access to technology
  • Managing challenging behaviour

12:50 – 17:42

Section 6

Where can I get the latest information on COVID-19?

We strongly encourage you to follow the advice from NSW Health in relation to COVID-19.

For more information on COVID-19 please refer to the coronavirus information (COVID-19) for service providers webpage.

The Australian Government Department of Health issues a daily alert on the latest medical advice and official reports.

The Disease Toolkit for Continuums of Care: Preventing & Managing the Spread of Infectious Disease With Shelters provides useful information on managing infectious diseases in refuge settings.

NCOSS have also recently issued a COVID-19 Community Sector Resource which contains useful information to help plan for business continuity.

Please see the essential and non-essential services fact sheet (PDF, 141.92 KB) for guidance on the prioritisation of service delivery across essential and non-essential services.

Please note that this fact sheet is to be used as guidance only. If you have questions about your current service delivery and how this may be affected by the current Public Health Order, please contact your District Contract Manager.

Specialist homelessness services COVID-19 additional payments

Additional funding, which is a short-term temporary measure, is available for Specialist Homelessness Services (SHS) to:

  • meet the emergency needs of clients impacted by COVID 19
  • meet additional costs incurred to maintain their existing service model as a result of COVID 19
  • implement their business continuity plan and or NSW Government COVID Safety Plan.

Specifically, SHS providers can apply for additional funding for :

  • Emergency Accommodation (EA) - time limited low cost accommodation for SHS clients impacted by COVID
  • Workforce contingency payments - to help SHS address or avoid staff shortages resulting from a COVID-19 incident or workplace impact
  • Other additional payments - purchase of goods and services for clients to establish or maintain their safety during COVID-19

The SHS COVID-19 Additional Payments Application Form DOCX, 180.65 KB is to be used by SHS providers to apply for additional funding.

The SHS COVID-19 Additional Payments Application Form provides further definitions and requirements for each payment type.

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Last updated: 25 Oct 2021