Case Studies
Department of Health Victoria

Supporting Victoria's aged care pandemic crisis

Converge provided immediate support to staff volunteering during the Victorian aged care crisis.
Supporting Victoria’s aged care pandemic crisis
Organisation:

Australian Department of Health NACER Project

Organisation
Industries:

Health Care and Social Assistance

Public Administration or Government

Industry
Size:

1,000+

Issue / Objective:

Aged care, staff support during the pandemic in Victoria

Issue
Outcome:

1. Significant reduction in mental health risk for volunteer staff during and post deployment
2. Direct support for volunteer staff members and their immediate family via dedicated aged care phone line
3. Direct support for aged care residents and their family members through a separate dedicated phone line
4. Lives saved for aged care residents

Outcome

In August 2020, Melbourne experienced a major outbreak of COVID-19 across a number of aged care settings which overwhelmed the ability to staff the impacted facilities given the large number of health workers who contracted the virus or were furloughed.

The Australian Government Department of Health worked with the Victorian Aged Care Response Centre teams to mobilise 16 interstate teams to work intensively in impacted facilities from mid-August to mid-October 2020 to assist with managing the crisis. Converge was contracted to support the frontline teams brought in to backfill health workers in the affected facilities.

Issue/Objective

Converge was contracted to provide employee assistance program support, debriefing, onsite pastoral support, and phone line assistance to the interstate health workers, that were assisting with the Covid-19 related impact on residential aged care services in Victoria.

 Strategic Approach

There were four key elements to the support program provided to NACER and the volunteer staff:

  1. A support team comprising a mental health consultant and a pastoral care counsellor were made available, at each team’s hotel, daily.  When staff were quarantined or furloughed, telehealth support was provided including when staff returned to their home state and had to undergo mandatory quarantine.
  2. Facilitation of a team debrief for each of the 16 teams, once per week by a senior registered psychologist.
  3. Access to Converge’s 24-hour EAP telephone support service for interstate family members of NACER staff.
  4. 24-hour phone support was extended to Aged Care residents and their family through dedicated phone lines.

Support was available around the clock to NACER and VACRC staff, to their family members back at home, and to the aged care residents themselves as well as their family members who were unable to physically visit their loved ones in aged care due to isolation rules at the time.

Daily reports, dashboard reports and fortnightly summary reports were also provided to monitor activity, support needs and mitigate risk of psychological illness or injury.

The Solution

Between late August and mid-October 2020, Converge provided a comprehensive support program for all interstate (NACER) health workers and Victorian (VACRC) team members. This high touch support program enabled the teams brought in to backfill regular aged care staff who had either contracted Covid-19, or had been furloughed as a result of viral infection in the aged care facilities.

Outcomes

  • 486 hours of support provided to frontline volunteer NACER and VACRC staff.
  • 58 debriefs conducted.
  • 541 hours of post-deployment support provided.
  • Lives of aged care residents saved by being part of the team support infrastructure which effectively reduced the spread of the viral outbreak in the aged care facilities.
Senior member of VACRC leadership team
"The support given to these teams by your staff was extraordinarily valuable, helping this group manage what were very difficult and challenging circumstances. "
Critical Incident Response
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