COVID-19 Update

People living with chronic conditions such as MND have been identified as a vulnerable population that may be more susceptible to contracting the COVID-19 virus. Our MND Association network is therefore monitoring the expert advice available very closely to consider the impact on people living with MND, staff and volunteers. 

What are we doing?

Our priority is to do what we can to reduce the chances of spreading the virus to the MND community. With that in mind our national MND Association network has made the decision to postpone Walks to D'Feet MND and other meetings and events until at least mid May. Whilst this is very disappointing we will work to keep the MND community connected through our social media channels, newsletters and online interactions. 

Your state MND Association will continue to provide support services to you. Some state MND Association staff have been advised to avoid face to face contact with people living with MND and their carers as much as possible. Some will continue face to face visits, with the necessary precautions in place, but this may change depending on official advice.They will continue to work hard to ensure that everyone who needs or wants support will continue to receive it via the telephone, email, social media, skype and other technologies.

The state MND Associations are also working to ensure they can continue to provide equipment to their members and NDIS participants who are eligible for equipment services from their state MND Association. They are working with delivery partners and allied health professionals to continue supply and minimise delays.  

If you need to speak to your state MND Association Advisor or Coordinator of Supports (CoS) call our national helpline on freecall 1800 777 175.

We encourage the MND community to remain updated and aware of the changing Governement response to COVID-19.  

As always we are here to help link people to trusted and up to date information. In this case the information provided below in answer to some of your frequently asked questions is taken from the advice being provided by the Federal Government, healthdirect and the World Health Organisation (WHO). 

What is the current situation in Australia?

For latest updates visit the Australian Government Department of Health website current status page. MND Australia encourages people living with MND to talk to their doctor about COVID-19 to understand the implications for their unique circumstances. 

Connect with the Government Coronovirus App to stay informed:

On your phone with WhatsApp, to join the WhatsApp channel - message +61 400 253 787, or go to http://aus.gov.au/whatsapp and send your mobile number,
or for a QR code go to https://web.whatsapp.com/.

On your tablet or phone, download the “Coronavirus Australia” government app in the Apple App Store or Google Play or use the official Australian Government chatbot, and type in #COVID.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19

Symptoms of COVID-19 are outlined here or you can check your symptoms using the healthdirect COVID-19 symptom checker below:

COVID-19

What should I do if I think I have COVID-19? 

If you are concerned that you may have been exposed to COVID-19 you can call the National Coronovirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080. 

If you or other members of your household are asked to self isolate due to exposure to others with the virus let your health team or neurologist know. 

For people living with MND it is important that if you, or anyone in your household, develops a fever or flu like symptoms such as coughing, sore throat or increased fatigue you should seek medical advice as soon as possible as outlined here

People living with MND may already have some difficulty with breathing so if you experience any increased difficulties or sudden onset of breathing difficulties call 000 for urgent help. 

How can I protect myself and others? 

All reasonable precautions, such as hand washing and avoiding close contact with visibly unwell people, should be undertaken. Carers and health and community care providers who work with people with MND should also take precautions to reduce their risk of contracting the virus.

COVID-19 coronavirus - how to avoid infection

Infographic courtesy of healthdirect.

One way to slow down the spread of the virus in the community is for people to undertake social distancing.

A statement from the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) has advised on social distancing measures to take effect from Monday 16 March. Most people are limiting social interaction and practising social distancing at the moment, following Government recommendations.

If you are at higher risk, as with MND, you should consider self-isolating at home. It is very important that you, and your family carer, try to avoid the infection and for the time being, limit personal contact to those who live in the same household or those who are essential to your care. 

More information on how you can help prevent contracting COVID-19 is available through healthdirect, the Australian Government Department of Health and the World Health Organisation. 

What should I do if I am a carer for someone with MND?

Read all the information on the webpage and stay up to date with the latest government advice. You may continue to provide support to your family member or friend as long as you are free of the virus symptoms and have not been in contact with anyone with symptoms or diagnosed with COVID-19.

You will need to take extra care with hygiene and ensure all people coming to your home to provide care and support to your loved one also take extra care. You should also be sure to take care of your own health and well-being and stay connected to family and friends via the phone and internet. 

Family members or friends providing care and support to people living with MND may also want to ensure they have a plan in place should they become unwell or have to self isolate. Carers Australia has information for carers on keeping themselves and the person they care for well, making an emergency plan, accessing groceries, asking for help and keeping connected and accessing support and services. 

If you need to speak to your state MND Association Advisor for support or information call our national helpline on freecall 1800 777 175. 

What will be the impact on GP, neurologist or MND Clinic appointments?   

In response to COVID-19, the Government has introduced medicare rebates to allow GPs, nurses and specialist doctors such as neurologists to deliver telehealth services to some vulnerable groups of people, including people with chronic conditions such as MND. We are very pleased to see these rebates expanded to cover all medical and many allied health consultations. This much-expanded 'Medicare at Home' measure safeguards and ensures care for all those with chronic conditions such as MND so they can continue to stay at home with access to their health and community providers. 

We've been in touch with the specialist MND clinics around the country. At the moment most are still seeing new referrals and those who need to be seen in the clinic but offering telehealth and phone consultations for existing patients and those with symptoms of COVID-19 in self isolation. We suggest you contact your doctor if you have an appointment scheduled as the situation may change.

No specific equipment is required to provide Medicare-compliant telehealth services. Services can be provided through widely available video calling apps and software such as Zoom, Skype, FaceTime, Duo, GoToMeeting and others. If video options are not available then a phone consultation may be offered. 

What will be the impact on the services that support me at home? 

Accessing NDIS support 

If you have an NDIS plan in place the NDIS has a page on their website with information for participants and providers on the Coronovirus that includes a range of FAQ's. The NDIS also has a 'What happens when' outlining the changes in place as a result of the current situation to ensure NDIS services continue to be delivered. 

The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) will be talking to the Every Australia Counts community through a zoom forum on Thursday 9 April at 10am to 11am  AEST. To register and find out more click here

Disability Ministers from around the country met on 18 March to work on a plan to make sure people with disability get what they need as the impact of the Coronavirus grows. An overview of discussions is available on the Every Australian Counts website.

On 21 March The Hon Stuart Robert MP, the Minister for the NDIS, announced a number of new measures to support NDIS participants and providers through this time. The measures include extension to plans, face to face planning to shift to telephone meetings where possible, more flexibility and an action plan to ensure NDIS participants continue to receive the support they need. Read the media release here

State MND Associations are in contact with NDIS staff in their state to facilitate continued access to plan development and reviews, aids and equipment and support services.
  
If you are experiencing difficulities in accessing your NDIS supports please contact your state MND Association on 1800 777 175.

Accessing aged care support 

Older people (60+ years of age, or 50+ for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples) are more susceptible to getting sick with COVID-19 (coronavirus). The risk of serious illness, and in some reported cases death, increases with age, particularly those who have chronic illnesses or who may have a weakened immune system. This means that older people who have MND should take special care at this time. The Australian Government has published a Fact Sheet for older Australians. It outlines the COVID-19 facts and the measures you, your family and friends can take to protect older Australians. The spread of COVID-19 and Australia’s response is evolving. The government will provide updated versions of this Fact Sheet when new information comes to hand at www.health.gov.au.

If you have a Community Home Care Package you will need to talk to your provider about the possible impact on services in your home. The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) has advised on testing and work restrictions for health and aged care workers

If you are experiencing difficulities in accessing your home care supports please contact your state MND Association on 1800 777 175.

Additional information: 

 

Proud member of:

International Alliance of ALS/MND Associations

ACNC Registered Charity

 

MND Australia would like to advise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander users that this website may contain images or names of deceased persons.