The mission of Odyssey House NSW is to build safe and healthy communities by reducing the impact of addiction on individuals, families, carers and communities. Odyssey House NSW is committed to offering high quality care for each person from first point of contact and throughout their recovery journey.
In order to achieve this, Odyssey House NSW provides an integrated health care service, including client assessment to identify appropriate health care pathway options for individuals. Clients may receive care through Community Services, Withdrawal and /or Residential Services and the Magistrates Early Referral Into Treatment (MERIT) program.
The World Health Organisation has announced that COVID-19 is a pandemic. Odyssey House NSW is an essential service by virtue of section 4 of the Essential Services Act 1988 (no.41), which entitles the organisation to continue providing services to the community within a specified capacity during a time that a state of emergency is declared by the Australian Government.
Odyssey House acknowledges that the COVID -19 outbreak represents a significant risk to Odyssey House NSW clients, staff and local community and as such is committed to ensuring their safety. Odyssey House NSW has developed a COVID-19 Response & Business Continuity Plan which aims to provide a ‘single source of truth’ and minimise miscommunication where possible. It is guided by the Australian Health Sector Emergency Response Plan for Novel Coronavirus, the Australian Government Department of Health, NSW Government and NSW Health and provides a framework for how Odyssey House NSW will continue to function during the pandemic crisis of COVID-19. This plan will be amended/updated in line with relevant information as appropriate.
Odyssey House NSW has developed a number of strategies to mitigate the risk for stakeholders. These include:
- further enhancing existing infection control and public health measures to reduce risk of infection to clients, staff and visitors;
- promptly identifying cases of COVID-19 infection to prevent transmission on Odyssey House NSW premises;
- identifying and commencing strategies to minimise the risk of further disease transmission;
- providing current information on COVID-19 as well as regular updates to all stakeholders;
- publishing revised and new policies to support a changing workplace landscape during this COVID-19 pandemic;
- providing support for staff and/or clients who feel additional anxiety about COVID-19.
Odyssey House NSW is striving to continue to provide alcohol and other drugs treatment services to our clients and as such will be using ongoing monitoring of the COVID 19 outbreak in NSW to determine requirements for any staged approach to treatment, to facilitate the safety of our clients and staff during this COVID-19 outbreak. Strategies include:
- Routinely promoting general health and hygiene;
- Identifying and isolating clients and/ or staff who are presenting as unwell or have been diagnosed with COVID-19;
- Identifying and managing staff or clients who have been in close proximity with person diagnosed with COVID-19;
- Modifying services in line with government directions on COVID-19 provided in treatment service locations and/or offices;
- Providing counselling and brief intervention services by telephone rather than face to face where appropriate;
- Relocating staff to work remotely, where feasible.
General Health and Hygiene
Odyssey House NSW implemented Federal and State Government guidelines for staff and external stakeholders with reference to the Order under Section 7 of the Public Health Act 2010 to force the immediate cancellation of major events and to self-isolate for a fortnight when returning from overseas or exposed directly or indirectly to the virus. The guidelines include hygiene and infection control for all visitors and staff; systems, processes and policies relevant to staff working remotely; systems, processes and policies relevant to identifying and supporting visitors and staff who are unwell and/or diagnosed with COVID-19; and a communication plan for responding to Covid-19.
Odyssey House NSW guidelines reference Public Health instructions, and where required, are developed in consultation with the relevant primary health and social services including NSW Health, Australian Government Department of Health, Australian Independent Schools, Department of Education and the Attorney General’s Department. These include implementing Public Health instructions; developing and implementing appropriate systems, processes and policies to ensure the safety of our clients and service staff with reference to continuing treatment services to our clients; extensive and supportive advice on admission, an improved fit for purpose service delivery model; and improved identification of unwell or infected staff and clients with associated and relevant healthcare services. In line with the Business Continuity Strategy, Odyssey House NSW plans to revert to a more routine service provision, as soon as practicable and taking into consideration improvements to care, where services can be provided safely.
Liaison with external organisations
Odyssey House NSW has commenced discussions with a range of relevant external organisations to mitigate risk and plan for
- The potential transfer of staff or clients succumbing to illness while on site;
- Ongoing appropriate food supply for residential services;
- Provision of routine supplies for residential and corporate services, including additional requirements relating to personal protective equipment (PPE);
- Cleaning services due to partial shutdown of clients in residential services; and
- The requirement to discharge all clients safely in the event that the service needs to close.
Key consideraitions around COVID-19 have been outlined in the plan together with the provision of relevant information and key contacts to address concerns.
To deliver our programs and services with as little disruption as possible, Odyssey House NSW has focused continuity planning efforts on maintaining access to the appropriate resources needed to deliver our programs and services in a range of scenarios. These have been outlined utilising a 4 tiered model operating services in a ‘business as usual’ environment to operating with severe disruption to ‘business as usual’.
While we continue to focus attention on our core needs as a service and delivering essential services to our community, it is important to continue to work collaboratively with our partner agencies to plan for and provide flexible and responsive approaches to treatment.
Odyssey House NSW remains cognisant of the enormous challenges that this pandemic places, not only on Odyssey House NSW as a service, but our partner non-government organisations (NGO’s). Odyssey House will be open to exploring options for collaborative working arrangements in order to provide support to other NGO’s.
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