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Safe Contact with Clients - Home visits

Last Modified: 28-Feb-2022 Review Date: N/A

 ‭(Hidden)‬ Legislation

Overview

Refer to this entry for information on how COVID-19 is impacting the way the Department of Communities (the Department) practices and delivers child protection services in its contact with clients.

This entry should be considered alongside all approved information provided on the WA Government announcements site.  Department's Community Services Operational SharePoint site, the COVID-19 Response Management site, the Department's Director General Broadcasts and the Department of Health

Rules
 

Your safety and the safety and wellbeing of children, parents and families who come into contact with the Department must be the focus and priority in all interactions.

For any matters or actions in your work that relate to the potential transmission or diagnosis of COVID-19 you should:

  • consult your line manager
  • escalate issues to your district director as required, and
  • ensure accurate recording, including documenting rationales for the cancellation of activities/actions.

You must continue to refer to all usual practice guidance contained in Casework Practice Manual entries, except where an item on this page overrides guidance outlined in that entry.

The Department must continue to deliver critical essential services to the community.   

Information and Instructions

  • Physical distancing
  • Advice to clients
  • Support for staff
  • Physical contact with clients
  • Other agencies
  • Recording in Assist
  • Physical distancing

     

    To reduce the spread of illness, you should:

    • stay home if you are sick
    • refrain from handshaking as a greeting
    • promote good hand and sneeze/cough hygiene
    • have lunch at your desk or outside rather than in a crowded lunchroom
    • clean and disinfect high touch surfaces regularly
    • always sign-in using the SafeWA app or a physical contact register at applicable locations
    • reconsider non-essential business travel, and
    • consider if large gatherings can be rescheduled, staggered or cancelled.

    During periods of lockdown, you should follow all health advice provided, in addition to:

    • wearing a mask indoors, outside in public and on public transport
    • encouraging clients to wear masks during face-to-face contact, and
    • holding meetings via videoconferencing or phone call.

    For further guidance on staying safe in the workplace please visit the COVID-19 Response Management site and the Safe Work Practices and Wellbeing page on The Common. 

    It's ok to advise clients that you are making alternative arrangements to ensure their health and safety. If possible, arrange for meetings to occur by video or teleconference.

    Take precautions during face-to-face meetings, such as: 
    • booking a large enough space that physical distance can be maintained
    • encouraging hand washing before and after the meeting
    • wearing a mask that covers your mouth and nose and encouraging other attendees to do the same
    • only having essential attendees at the meeting, and 
    • using a combination of face to face and video or teleconferencing.

    Refer to the Department of Health website for more information on physical distancing

    During this time of physical distancing and increased use of online communication, the eSafety Commissioner has released tips on how to stay safe and have more positive experiences online, visit COVID-19 eSafety Commissioner

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    Advice to clients

    ​If there are specific safety concerns and you need to cancel a meeting or visit with a client, use the following guidelines to communicate to the client:

    Advise the client that the meeting or visit has been cancelled due to:

    • a high-risk situation arising where it is necessary to protect the health and wellbeing of Communities' clients and staff, or
    • a specific State Government directive, such as a lockdown or a the need for an individual to self-isolate, to contain and minimise the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

    Advise the client that you will contact them to reschedule this meeting or to arrange an alternative arrangement.

    Explain to the client that they can contact the local Child Protection district office by phone if they require support during business hours, otherwise the Statewide Referral and Response Service (Crisis Care) after hours on 9223 1111

    Emergency travel during lockdown

    If there is an emergency and a child or others need to travel in or out of a region in lockdown, you should consult with the TL. The following situations may constitute an emergency where travel during a lockdown may be authorised:

    • supporting victims to flee family and domestic violence
    • transporting a child to an urgent care arrangement following statutory action or a care arrangement breakdown, or
    • transporting a child for other safety reasons.
        

    In these circumstances, you will need to provide a letter to Authorised Officers when crossing travel borders to prove you, or your client, has a genuine need to travel. For a template of the letter, access the Communities letter for intrastate travel in related resources.

    If you are travelling with a client, you will need to present your ID badge. If a client is travelling without a staff member, you should include the following additional information in the letter:

      • A brief explanation for why emergency travel is required. You should not include confidential information.
      • Details of the individuals travelling, including children.
      • Details of all relevant travel addresses, for example, where a child will be collected from and
      • Dates and a where they are travelling to.
      • Dates and approximate times of travel. 

    Be aware that an individual travelling during a period of lockdown may need to follow restrictions, as advised by the Authorised Officers.

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    Support for staff

    Line managers should ensure they are providing support for their staff at this time through simple actions such as:

    • checking in with direct reports regularly
    • offering empathy and understanding
    • praising staff for the work they are doing
    • encouraging staff to access counselling through the Employee Assistance Program (EAP), and
    • prioritising the health and wellbeing of staff.

    Staff should feel supported to undertake the essential services they deliver, and staff wellbeing should be prioritised and maintained to ensure a stable workforce. Continue to use supervision as a forum to develop case plans and consider how case plans may need to be amended due to COVID-19.

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    Physical contact with clients

    If a person is unwell or during times of community transmission, it should be assumed that a person has COVID-19, unless they have been tested and receive a negative result. You should therefore take appropriate precautions and carefully plan visits where alternative forms of contact are not appropriate. Home visits where no-one is sick and outside of periods where there is community transmission should also be planned carefully, following the guidelines below.

     

    Before the contact

     

    Before your visit to an unknown residence and where a visit is being undertaken with WA Police Force, you can ask the officers if an address check has occurred to identify if the address has a confirmed case of COVID-19. 

    Also check relevant recording systems for any relevant information, for example medical alerts in Assist and the client view in Habitat.

    If possible, ahead of a face to face meeting with any client you should contact them and ask if they or anyone in their household has been in contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 or are in isolation.

     

    Where possible, take spare masks on the visit with you. If a client does not have their own mask, encourage them to use one of yours during the duration of the visit.

    If you are still required to have contact with someone who is in isolation or is a confirmed COVID-19 case, you must refer to the guidance in the following entries:

    When you are making an unannounced visit, or you can't phone ahead, ask the same question above shortly after arriving or meeting with your client. You can also contact other services or people involved with the client and seek the answers from them before attending the home. 

    If you have any queries or concerns about your visit, refer to the COVID-19 Response Management page on the Common, the Department of Health Coronavirus page for the latest advice or if you have a specific question not covered by the information on these sites, email incidentcontroller@communities.wa.gov.au.

    During the contact

     

    For regular face to face contact with a client or child, regardless of the location, the following actions are recommended:

    • Wash your hands and use hand sanitiser before and after contact.
    • Avoid unnecessary contact with children, surfaces and touching your face during the contact, and
    • wear a mask that covers your mouth and nose and encourage the client to do so as well.  

    If you must have face-to-face contact with a client or child who is in isolation or is confirmed to have COVID-19, you must adhere to the current COVID-19 guidelines.

    The following actions are recommended during face to face contact:

    1. Wear a face mask and ask the client to wear a mask.
    2. Ask all household members to wash their hands when you arrive.
    3. Request to meet outside or in a large space.
    4. Avoid unnecessary contact with surfaces and touching your face during the contact.
    5. Wash your hands and use hand sanitiser if available, before and after the contact.
    6. Ask that everyone uses the SafeWA app or a physical contact register at applicable venues.

     

    After the contact

     

    For regular face to face contact with a client or child, regardless of the location, the following actions are recommended:

    1. Wash your hands immediately after the contact.
    2. Debrief with your team leader.
    If you have been in close contact with someone who has a confirmed case of COVID-19, you must self-isolate for 14 days.

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    Other agencies

    ​Refer to individual organisations and agencies for decisions on how their day to day functioning is being affected.

    Be mindful in undertaking case management tasks, including safety planning, that the regular provision of services may not be available and take this into consideration in making your plans.


    A collaborative approach should be taken when working in partnership with other agencies.
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    Recording in Assist

    ​For information on recording please refer to COVID-19 Recording in Assist (in related resources).

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Related Resources

 ‭(Hidden)‬ Policies

 ‭(Hidden)‬ Standards