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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:

COVID-19 Guidelines for Residential Out of Home Care (OOHC) settings and Specialist Homelessness Services (SHS)

The Guidelines produced for the Residential OOHC and SHS sectors have been merged and updated. The new COVID-19 Guidelines for Residential Out of Home Care (OOHC) settings and Specialist Homelessness Services (SHS) have been streamlined with the creation of three modules:

Read the new Guidelines in conjunction with the Sector support for DCJ service providers preparing COVID-19 Management Plans guidance.

Residential Out of Home Care (OOHC) settings and Specialist Homelessness Services COVID-19 Response Quick Reference Guide

The Residential Out of Home Care (OOHC) settings and Specialist Homelessness Services COVID-19 Response Quick Reference Guide has been prepared to support the provision of up-to-date COVID-19 information in a handy format. The QRG organises links around common COVID-19 related questions, such as where to find the latest information on vaccinations and boosters.

Public health guidance for testing and management of COVID-19 cases in Residential Out of Home Care (OOHC) settings and Specialist Homelessness Services (SHS) factsheet

The Public health guidance for testing and management of COVID-19 cases in Residential Out of Home Care (OOHC) settings and Specialist Homelessness Services (SHS) factsheet includes recommended Rapid Antigen Testing (RAT) schedules for clients and workers, as well as advice on dealing with outbreaks of three or more cases in a service.  This new factsheet has been developed based on NSW Health guidance.

Transition to post-lockdown service delivery for Specialist Homelessness Services (SHS) (updated - January 2022)

The Transition to post-lockdown service delivery for Specialist Homelessness Services (SHS) PDF, 174.7 KB provides guidance to SHS providers on key aspects of service planning and delivery. This document has been updated since its initial publishing in November 2021.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Quick Reference Guide

This Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Quick Reference Guide is designed to provide a list of links to resources where information on requirements and the use of PPE, can be found. The links have been identified from a range of government and non-government web sites and include information sourced from health experts.

SHS COVID-19 Checklists

Two checklists have been produced to assist SHS providers deal with a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 case. Following advice from NSW Health, these checklists will be updated in line with the revised COVID-19 Guidelines and Quick Reference Guides for suspected and confirmed cases.

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. The document summarises the lessons learnt from 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

Except where a client is under Parental Responsibility to the Minister (PRM), service providers are no longer required to report confirmed client cases of COVID-19 to DCJ. Further information can be found at the DCJ Coronavirus microsite for service providers.

If a staff member tests positive and was infectious at work, or if the staff member likely contracted COVID-19 in the workplace, notify SafeWork NSW within 48 hours. Further information on notifying SafeWork can be found on the NSW Government Website.

Further information can be found in the SHS Covid-19 Guidelines.

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).

Please note that the COVID-19 Guidelines for Specialist Homelessness Services (SHS) have been updated since the release of these videos in September 2021.

Due to the evolving COVID-19 situation, regular changes are being made to NSW Health advice and government policy.  As a result, some of the content in these videos may have been superseded and more recent advice, not included.  For more current advice, please also refer to the SHS COVID-19 Guidelines, which are being revised on a regular basis.

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 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.

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Last updated: 01 Jul 2022