From David Haupt - ACS & ADRA Director, NNSW Conference
Adventist Community Services NNSW (ACS) and ADRA Australia will maintain a “Keep Open”, adaptive Strategy provided that there is no harm to staff, volunteers and clients, and as long as we have legal permission to operate. Our challenge is “How do we do business differently?” while serving community needs during this time of crisis.
1. Continue services for the most vulnerable wherever possible with appropriate precautions in place.
2. Our first and foremost priority is to protect staff/volunteers involved in the facility operations, as well as the people who come to receive a service. ACS & ADRA recognises that age is no limitation or indication of personal health. However, ACS & ADRA ‘strongly encourages’ those who are older and/or with compromised health/immune systems to self-isolate, cease face to face contact with the public and seek alternate ways to contribute to ADRA ministry away from the front lines.
3. ACS & ADRA Australia reserves the right to close any ACS/ADRA facility within NNSW. However, Local Facilities have the right to cease operations if the Local Management Committee (LMC) considers it necessary. This decision will need to be carried out in dialogue with ACS and/or ADRA Australia. (Please see WHS Checklist form attached that can guide your board in this process of making a decision)
4. Recognise individual location differences. Decisions to be made with the local context in mind.
5. In light of the various government rulings on “non-essential services” closing it is advised that the ruling does not apply to general retail and so the op shops or community service can remain open as at March 23. It is thought that in the future “Essential Services” will be the only locations allowed to open and we would consider all locations that have food parcels, pantry and other Emergency Relief (ER) programs such as bill paying and in-kind donations as “Essential Services”. This is for future consideration and planning purposes.
6. Conference ADRA Directors will need to be in daily contact with their respective managers to provide advice and support during this time of rapid change.
7. Precautions to manage facilities and programs appropriately include:
a) All facilities (Op Shops, Community Centres, Food pantries, Cafés and Meal Programs, Gardens):
i. Use the shop as an opportunity to educate customers on good hygiene. E.g. WASHING hands properly is THE most important strategy.
ii. Place clear signs with instructions and diagrams in highly visible places throughout the facilityhttps://www.health.gov.au/resources/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-print-ads-simple-steps-to-stop-the-spread
iii. Provide available hand cleaning (soap/water and/or sanitisers) station at the entrance to each facility (this could include placing a container of water and soap and paper towels at its entrance). Make sure you regularly change the water.
Have clear instructions/requirements on what every person who enters the facility is to abide by. [Find ways to turn this into a fun and educational process] It is within the right of the op shop to refuse entry to anyone who does not sanitise.https://www.health.gov.au/resources/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-print-ads-good-hygiene-is-in-your-hands
iv. Increased cleaning practices throughout the facility: All high frequency touch points including door handles, handrails, benches, tables, equipment, etc. should be cleaned once per hour during opening hours.
Special cleaning precautions for staff manning a money till, such as taking extreme care not to touch your face while on the till and washing hands immediately after time/shift dealing with money. Also recommend that requesting customers to use contactless paywave card transactions if available to reduce the handling of cash.
v. Increased social distancing – including no handshaking, hugging, touching and keeping a distance of at least 1.5 metres from another person. Explore using the Asian Wai, elbow knocks and foot touches (Cossack Dancing optional)
vi. Screen visitors politely. If anybody shows cold/flu symptoms, inquire of their situation, and request them to move outside the facility. Find ways to do this in a compassionate manner – and offer help to pass onto service providers where possible.
vii. Limit the number of actual contacts with people during the day
viii. If any volunteer expresses concern with continuing to work at the facility, please respect their concerns and make alternative arrangements with other volunteers.
ix. If any volunteer shows any sickness symptoms, politely ask them to return home and stay away until the symptoms have gone.https://www.health.gov.au/resources/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-identifying-the-symptoms
x. Give consideration to what additional appropriate activities can be undertaken on Sabbath with the support of the local church.
xi. Affirm and encourage people that they will get through this.
b) Food specific facilities:
i. More vigorous hygiene practices in serving food, such as “hygiene toolbox” before preparation; ensure correct use of gloves.
ii. Change to food parcels/take away meal packages.
iii. Serve food through a window if available
iv. For people in queues – require a minimum of 1.5m between people where safe to do so. Also have where possible some hand hygiene station at the beginning of the queue.
v. Don’t serve at tables, rather provide pre-packaged food to be taken off premises.
c) Op Shops
i. Find ways to support any volunteers and customers with high needs. Show compassion as we engage.
ii. Hold a mandatory daily safety meeting, including discussion on good safety and hygiene practices amongst your staff and volunteers. Use as an Education opportunity
iii. Ensure gloves are provided to sorters when sorting any donated items and they are using them. If you cannot provide gloves, do not permit sorting to take place. Increase good hygiene practices with newly donated items.
iv. If shop is well stocked, or for any other reason deemed helpful, place a hold on acceptance of newly donated goods. Include clear signage of this requirement. LMC responsible for this decision.
v. Op shops that partake in house clearances, continue to check thoroughly any health precautions which need to be taken prior to house clearance.
vi. Strategies to consider to keep the shop open:
1. Reduce number of days open, and/or opening hours each day (depending on volunteer availability and customer traffic).
2. Recruit younger volunteers. Ensure that all ACS volunteers fill out their Volunteer Application forms and all ADRA volunteers are registering online through the ADRA Australia website. https://www.adra.org.au/volunteer/
3. Reduce the number of services an Op Shop offers where applicable.
4. If additional services are shown to meet a local need, coordinate with myself as Conference ACS & ADRA Director to determine appropriateness.
8. Guidance for volunteers who have been in contact with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19
If a volunteer colleague is a suspected case, you may need to be isolated. This will be determined by your state public health unit on a case-by-case basis. Your public health unit will contact you if you need to isolate. For more information, read the fact sheet on home isolation
9. In the event where a Volunteer is tested for or diagnosed with COVID-19
a) Ensure the volunteer is isolated until results come out.
b) Close the facility until the results come out
c) Follow your Public Health Unit contact tracing procedures and inform relevant persons.
d) If Diagnosed with COVID-19 close the facility for 14 days and carry out appropriate disinfection processes
e) Maintain contact with the volunteer to provide support and encouragementhttps://www.health.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/2020/03/coronavirus-covid-19-information-about-home-isolation-when-unwell-suspected-or-confirmed-cases.pdf
10. Stop formal training programs that involve bringing in people from outside and people meeting together in proximity.
11. In the event of closure of any facility involving Work for the Dole volunteers
a) Conduct a risk management review and program and provide details to provider.
12. I have lastly provided as an attachment, a card that you members could use to reach out to their direct community. Share it with your members. Let our members place it in their neighbourhood mailboxes. As our community lose their jobs and especially go into self-isolation, a greater sense of hopelessness will take hold. This is the time for which Adventist are called – a simple service can become a point of contact for Eternity!
May God continue to bless your ministry. Above all, I pray that in the midst of a worldwide endemic, our member’s eyes can be opened to the opportunity to minister and serve, in Christ’s name.