Department of Human Services

Accommodation Services Family Update

Information for families and friends of the people we support

Update as at 9 September 2020

This is a follow up to an update from 12 August 2020 about alleged serious incidents in our service involving a former disability worker, Arjun Kandel.

Mr Kandel has been arrested and charged with sexual assault offences. He is no longer an employee with us.

Today, Mr Kandel appeared in court and did not enter a plea. The next court appearance will occur on 27 January 2021.

Our main concern is the safety of everyone we support. Any steps we take will always be about protecting their safety and wellbeing and ensuring that all possible safeguards are in place.

The department is continuing to cooperate with police during their investigation. While we want to share as much information as we can with you, we’re limited in what can be shared as the matter is before the courts. We will share further information as soon as we are able to.

How to contact us

The department has established a dedicated phone service for you.

Family members and guardians who have any questions or concerns can phone us on 1800 952 962 (dial 3).

For any other matters about your family member or friend’s needs, please continue to speak directly with your service coordinator.

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Information for families and friends of the people we support

Update as at 12 August 2020

Over the weekend, the department notified police of alleged incidents involving a disability worker. The employee was immediately directed away from the workplace.

The police have since notified our service that the worker has been arrested and charged with sexual assault offences.

Please be assured that we have taken steps to ensure our clients are safe and supported, while the department continues to cooperate with police during their investigation.

As the matter is before the courts, no further information can be provided at this time.

Understandably, this is very difficult information to learn and we want you to know that we share your distress about this.

How to contact us

The department has established a dedicated phone service for you.

Family members and guardians who have any questions or concerns can phone us on 1800 952 962 (dial 3).

For any other matters about your family member or friend’s needs, please continue to speak directly with your service coordinator.

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Information for families and friends of the people we support

Update as at 23 July 2020

Have your say about Highgate Park

Consultation is underway to help shape the legacy of Highgate Park and the future of the supports funded by the trust that owns it.

This site, the former Julia Farr Centre at Fullarton and now known as Highgate Park, was established by Julia Farr in 1879. Since then, it has been a residential facility for people with high level physical and neurological disabilities and complex health needs.

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) has reformed disability services in Australia. In April 2020, the last resident moved out of Highgate Park and the facility no longer operates.

We want to know your thoughts about how the trust can continue to support beneficiaries, specifically those who are unable to live independently without support.

We want to hear from you, as well as people with disabilities and their support staff, local residents, interested members of the public and local businesses and communities, to help us decide on options for the trust into the future.

This consultation process is being led by Think Human, and there are several ways to have your say. While consultation via the YourSAy website closes next Friday 31 July 2020, you can continue to participate in other ways throughout August. If you would like to do so, please read the information sheet for details about how you can get involved.

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Information for families and friends of the people we support

Update as at 16 July 2020

Here is the latest issue of the Accommodation Services Family and Friends e-newsletter.

This e-newsletter provides news and updates about happenings in the service, with this issue featuring an update on our response to COVID-19 and other matters.

If you are the family member, friend or guardian of a person we support in Accommodation Services and don’t currently receive this e-newsletter, please email AccomFeedback@sa.gov.au to sign up.

What the people we support can do

With some restrictions being eased in South Australia, lots of your family and friends are keen to get back to community activities.

We are supporting them to do this where it is safe, including:

  • visiting the shops, a café or hairdresser (and church, pool, sport, gym)
  • maintaining suitable appointments
  • welcoming visitors to their home
  • having visits or overnight stays with family or friends

All of these activities still require:

  • social distancing in line with the state guidelines
  • good hygiene
  • tracing (via the Accommodation Services visitor survey and staff recording outings)
  • good health (if someone is unwell, they should not be going out or expecting their family member or friend can safely visit them)

Our staff are approaching all activities very carefully, and transport is also subject to social distancing requirements in vehicles.

If you are keen to visit your family and friends in their homes, please do so within reason. Safety is paramount, so we recommend that you visit in small groups, and remember to adhere to social distancing. As pointed out above, any house visitors must also do a short survey with staff before entering for contract tracing purposes.

Please speak to your Service Coordinator or Team Leader if you have any questions.

Day options and employment

It is great to see many providers resuming day options activities or employment and as this has happened, we have negotiated for the people we support to safely return.

We are continuing to work with providers around how they plan to meet safety requirements before anyone we support goes back to activities. This involves addressing social distancing requirements, tracing arrangements, continued hand washing and good hygiene, and expectations that if anyone is sick or has flu-like symptoms, they stay home.

Where it is safe to do so, providers can visit a house to offer a person one-to-one support.

The online connection

Thank you to everyone who has joined our online Family and Friends Forums to hear about our response as a service to COVID-19 and other matters.

We have taken these forums online over the past few months due to the circumstances. While we look forward to continuing the online connection, we are also working on possible dates and locations for in-person group meetings with you and other families and friends.

COVID-19 has also changed the way lots of us connect, and many of you have used technology including video-call apps to speak with your family and friends in their homes.

In response to your feedback, zoom is now installed on the house iPads in addition to other apps to help more of you stay in touch. While technology can be fantastic, please bear with staff who may be new to these apps and find using them a little challenging as they support people to make video calls.

Welcome to the Capacity Building team

We are pleased to announce our new Capacity Building team is on deck, covering each of our service areas.

The Capacity Building Officers are working directly with key staff, including those in the homes, to help your family member or friend to develop their confidence and capacity.

We are already seeing how the Capacity Building Officers make a big difference. One example is activity books that they are putting together and distributing to the houses, providing a range of ideas like recipe suggestions, crafts and games.

They are also working to arrange house meetings and are making contact with families and friends about getting involved. Some meetings have already taken place with early success, which the Capacity Building team will help to build on as we go. If you have any questions outside of house meetings, please contact your Service Coordinator.

For more information about capacity building or the house meetings, contact the Team Leader, Capacity Building Tobias Olsson on tobias.olsson@sa.gov.au or 0434 924 740.

Organisational Chart and Role Summary

As requested by a number of families, we are providing our broader Accommodation Services Organisational Chart (PDF 89.3 KB).

The Organisational Chart illustrates how key staff fit into our re-shaped structure and features photos and names so you know who's who.

In addition, you may find the Accommodation Services Roles Summary (PDF 165.9 KB) a helpful read. This summary shares information about the particular teams in our structure, and their responsibilities.

Please talk to your Team Leader if you have any queries.

Zero tolerance to abuse strategy

We are close to finalising a new strategy around zero tolerance to abuse and neglect of people with disability.

At its heart, the strategy will describe activities and drive strong action around recognising, preventing and addressing all forms of abuse and neglect towards those we support.

We are also working with the Office of the Public Advocate around supported decision making to help people achieve independence, choice and control in line with the principles of the NDIS. This is about providing a supportive framework around people who need decision making support about healthcare, accommodation, NDIS planning and personal affairs, and also aims to build capacity and develop aspirations and goals.

This work is based on the important guiding principles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, including the right to make decisions with support.

Client Influencer Group update

The Client Influencer Group, or People's Advocacy Group, has taken meetings online in recent months using the house iPads with great success.

The group is looking forward to meeting in-person again soon. If you think your family member or friend would like to join, or even get involved in a meeting to see what it is about, please email AccomFeedback@sa.gov.au

On another note, congratulations to group member and stroke survivor Tracey Gibb who has again been recognised, this time nationally in the Stroke Foundation's 2020 Awards in the Courage category - well done Tracey!

Highgate Park consultation now open

People with disability and their families and friends are encouraged to have their say about the legacy of Highgate Park and the future of the supports funded by the trust that owns it.

Highgate Park, previously the Julia Farr Centre, has a long history of supporting people with significant disabilities, having been set up under a charitable trust in 1879. In a milestone for Highgate, the last resident moved out to supported community accommodation in April.

For more information or to get involved in the consultation, visit the YourSAy website.

Service improvements are rolling out

You may remember some discussion at recent online Family and Friends Forums around our efforts to improve processes.

As a service, our work is fundamentally about putting the people we support at the centre of all we do. In line with this, we are reviewing and updating how we work so that we can continue to develop a holistic and consistent wrap-around service for those people and support them to have a fulfilled life.

This month, we are starting to roll out updates to these processes across Accommodation Services and educating staff so they understand and act on these new ways of working.

We will keep you updated as we go on what the changes mean, and how they will impact you and your family member or friend.

House visits resuming in August

Executive Director, Disability Services Joe Young and Director, Accommodation Services Muriel Kirkby will be resuming visits to your family and friends in their homes from next month.

Joe and Muriel were visiting the houses regularly before the recent circumstances around COVID-19 prevented this, and have greatly missed it over the past few months. These visits are a terrific opportunity for both to speak directly to the people we support about how they are feeling, especially what they think is working well and what they would like to see improve.

They intend to visit houses over a few days a month, getting around to all in due course, and are really looking forward to being out on the road again.

Customer Charter update

Our new Accommodation Services Customer Charter is nearly final and we will be providing it to families and friends when it is ready.

This charter is very much a hallmark for our service, detailing what can be expected from us and how we will achieve consistency across key business areas - and we consider it a terrific and positive step forward.

How to contact us

If you have any queries about your family member or friend, you can:

  • contact your Service Coordinator or Team Leader
  • email us at AccomFeedback@sa.gov.au
  • phone us on 1800 952 962 (and then press 3)

If you know another family member or friend who would like to receive this e-newsletter, please encourage them to sign up via the DHS website or phone 1800 952 962.

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Information for families and friends of the people we support

Update as at Friday 5 June 2020

Thank you again to the families and friends of those we support who joined us on Monday for our live online forum.

There were several questions around the latest easing of some COVID-19 restrictions in South Australia and what this means for your family member or friend.

Please note the below information, which we have also shared with our staff:

What the people we support can do

We know that the people we support may wish to get back to community activities, and we will support them to do this where it is safe and sensible:

This includes:

  • Visiting the shops, a café or hairdresser (and church, pool, sport, gym)
  • Maintaining suitable appointments
  • Welcoming visitors to their home
  • Having visits or overnight stays with family or friends

All of these activities still require:

  • Social distancing (1.5 metres distance or 1 person per 4 square metres indoors)
  • Good hygiene
  • No more than 20 people per room in hospitality venues, and safe distancing
  • Tracing (via the Visitor Survey and recording outings)
  • Good health (if someone is unwell, they should not be going out or expecting their family member or friend can safely visit them)

We are committed to responsible care and support and our staff will approach these activities cautiously, for example not having lots of visitors in a home at once, or choosing a quieter time to go to the shops.

Other points

  • Transport is still subject to social distancing requirements in vehicles
  • Exemptions are still required to record that people we support have had any risks and safety needs explained to them
  • Our Visitor Survey is still required because we must be able to respond quickly if there is a case of COVID-19

Day options and employment

As some providers resume offering day options or employment, we too can negotiate for each of the people we support to safely return to these activities.

We are working with providers around how they plan to meet safety requirements before anyone we support returns to activities. This will ideally consider social distancing requirements, tracing arrangements, continued handwashing and good hygiene as well as expectations that if anyone is sick or has flu like symptoms, they stay home.

In some cases, providers are now offering day activities and people are starting to attend. For other providers, it is about working to be ready to welcome people back to activities in coming weeks or months.

Where it is safe and appropriate, providers can visit a house to offer one-to-one support for a person.

How to contact us and stay informed

  • For specific matters about your family member or friend, please contact your Service Coordinator or Team Leader
  • You can also phone 1800 952 962 and press 3 (Monday to Friday, 9.00 am to 5.00 pm excluding public holidays), or email AccomFeedback@sa.gov.au
  • The latest information for family members and friends is available on this webpage

DHS Accommodation Services Family and Friends Forums

Update as at Tuesday 2 June 2020

Watch the Family and Friends Forum from 1 June 2020

On Monday 1 June 2020, we held a third online forum to share information with families and friends about a number of service updates and our continuing response to COVID-19.

Read a summary of discussion topics from the forum - Accommodation Services Notes from the Family and Friends Forum held on 1 June 2020

We are also working to finalise an organisational chart for families and our Accommodation Services Customer Charter, which will be sent to families and friends soon.

We intend to continue to connect with you online, and engage again in person when it is safe and appropriate to do so, and will keep you informed around some possible timeframes.

How to contact us and stay informed

If you have specific queries about your family member or friend, please speak to your Service Coordinator or Team Leader.

If you have any feedback about how we are engaging online including if you prefer this or have other ideas or suggestions, please let us know. You can contact us by emailing AccomFeedback@sa.gov.au or phoning 1800 952 962 and press 3 (Monday to Friday, 9.00 am to 5.00 pm excluding public holidays).


Update as at Tuesday 5 May 2020

Thank you to the families and friends of those we support in DHS Accommodation Services for your understanding around our continuing necessary response to the COVID-19 situation.

Watch the Family and Friends Forum from 4 May 2020

On Monday 4 May 2020, we held a second online forum to share information with families and friends about the response of our service to the COVID-19 situation and other activities, and answer questions.

We would like to continue with these online forums to engage and connect with as many families and friends as possible. Another live online forum will be held in early June, and full details will be provided soon.

How to contact us and stay informed

If you have any specific queries about your family member or friend, please speak to your Service Coordinator or Team Leader.

You can also contact us by emailing AccomFeedback@sa.gov.au or phoning 1800 952 962 and press 3 (Monday to Friday, 9.00 am to 5.00 pm excluding public holidays).


Update as at Wednesday 8 April 2020

Thank you to the families and friends of those we support in DHS Accommodation Services for your understanding around our continuing necessary response to the COVID-19 situation.

Watch the Family and Friends Forum from 6 April 2020

On Monday 6 April 2020, we held an online forum to share information with families and friends about the response of our service to the COVID-19 situation, and answer your questions.

You can continue to stay in touch

You can still stay in contact with your family member or friend over the phone or by using technology like FaceTime or video calls. Houses have iPads so people living there can use this technology to connect with you.

Restrictions are still in place for non-essential visitors to the homes. If someone does visit a house, the staff will ask them some questions, including:

  • their contact details
  • any recent travel
  • contact with any confirmed COVID-19 cases, and
  • any symptoms they may have.

This step is being rolled out to help protect the people we support and our staff.

How to contact us and stay informed

We are available by phone and email.

Phone 1800 952 962 and press 3 (Monday to Friday, 9.00 am to 5.00 pm excluding public holidays)

Email AccomFeedback@sa.gov.au

If you have specific queries about your family member or friend, please contact your Service Coordinator.

Alerts and advice regarding COVID-19 are available on the SA Health website and Australian Government website


Information for families and friends of the people we support

Update as at Friday 27 March 2020

Thank you to the families and friends of those we support in DHS Accommodation Services for your understanding around our necessary response to the COVID-19 situation.

We will hold an online forum electronically with families and friends shortly and will contact you with details and a link to join in.

Here is an update on the impacts of the current situation for those we support.

The current situation

  • Social distancing measures now underway will be in place indefinitely
  • These measures are to help protect the health of the people we support, our staff and you, and keep everyone safe
  • We will continue to review the requirements across Accommodation Services and provide updates on this page if things change

Our staff response

  • Staff have protocols around COVID-19 to follow if they or the people they support are potentially exposed to the virus
  • There is also a process around social distancing to follow in the houses which details what is okay to do, and what is not okay to do
  • We know some people we support will still pursue their own choices, so Area Managers are recording their alternate choices and the efforts made to explain the situation to the person, and offer alternative activities or outings

You can continue to stay in touch

  • Staying in contact with your family member or friend is important for both them and you
  • We know that some of you are connecting with them by phone or using technology like FaceTime or video calls which is terrific and we encourage this to continue (each house has an iPad)

How to contact us and stay informed

  • If you need to get in touch with us, please phone 1800 952 962 and press 3 (Monday to Friday, 9.00 am to 5.00 pm excluding public holidays)
  • You can also email us at AccomFeedback@sa.gov.au
  • The latest information for family members and friends is available on this Accommodation Services family update webpage
  • Alerts and advice regarding COVID-19 are available on the SA Health website and Australian Government website

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Information for families and friends of the people we support

Update as at Wednesday 18 March 2020

As the situation around Coronavirus, or COVID-19, continues to rapidly evolve, we would like to update you about some of the changes Accommodation Services is making.

These changes are in place to help protect the health of the people we support and our staff, and keep them and you safe.

The main focus is on social distancing, which is designed to help minimise the spread of infection of Coronavirus in our community.

Visitor and activity restrictions are now in place

  • Non-essential visitors are not able to enter the homes within our service and the Northgate Aged Care facility
  • Non-essential activities outside the homes are also stopping, including group day activities
  • These social distancing arrangements are in place from Wednesday 18 March 2020 until Tuesday 31 March 2020 but will be reviewed and possibly updated
  • This is in line with Australian Government advice to protect vulnerable Australians by reducing visitors to all residential aged care facilities and remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities

There are some exceptions

  • We want life to continue as normally as possible for those we support during this time, while still trying to maintain social distancing measures to help prevent the risk of spread and keep everyone safe
  • To stay in contact, we are requiring that you make arrangements with the Area Manager to help us manage safety for the people we support (this may include some checks to make sure you are well)
  • You may also like to phone your family member or friend during this time, or have a chat using technology like FaceTime or other video calls (each house has an iPad)

Work arrangements and other key visitors

  • Our Area Managers will respond to specialist needs such as unique arrangements for emergency visits if a client is ill
  • We will also assist with challenging behaviours by looking at individual outings where safe and appropriate in open, unpopulated spaces
  • Each house has particular needs, and we are working through how these arrangements may change from house to house
  • There may be exceptions for people living in the houses who work, and we will liaise closely with employers to ensure they are providing a safe and hygienic workplace
  • Guidelines are being developed that involve recording client needs, sharing Positive Behaviour Support Team strategies to address anxieties, and measures to try and maintain lifestyle opportunities and stimulating activities within homes
  • We are also implementing initiatives to help improve understanding around hand hygiene, prevention of spread and importance of social distancing from the wider community

What else you can do

  • If you have any suggestions or ideas about in-house activities that could assist, please let us know by phoning 1800 952 962 (Monday to Friday, 9.00 am to 5.00 pm)

Thank you for your understanding during this time.

While there are many unknowns and the situation does present challenges for everyone, we are working to ensure there is flexibility where there needs to be.

Please rest assured that we are doing all we can to keep serving those we support, our staff and you as safely as possible.

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Helpful information:

Frequently Asked Questions for family members and friends (updated 18 March 2020) (PDF 114.6 KB)

Frequently Asked Questions for family members and friends (updated 18 March 2020) - plain text version

Australian Government Social Distancing Guidance (PDF 180.6 KB)

Australian Government Social Distancing Guidance (DOCX 144.7 KB)

Useful information / contacts

Australian Government

SA Health

Accommodation Services

NDIS

South Australian Government

  • South Australia COVID-19 Information Line: Phone 1800 253 787 (8.00 am to 8.00 pm daily)
Page last updated : 09 Sep 2020

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