Testing for Covid-19

The Prime Minister has clarified the level of testing taking place in Australia, following media comments that we are falling behind.  This is what he said in a press conference yesterday:

PRIME MINISTER: “There is some important information I wanted to relay on testing. My morning brief this morning has Australia at 162,747 tests for Covid-19. Now, to put this in perspective, the tests by 100,000 population for Australia is five times, almost five times, 4.7 in fact, what it is in the United Kingdom, it is 25 times what it is in the United States. It is even higher now than in the Republic of Korea and puts Australia right at the top of that leaders board in terms of the amount of testing that we’re undertaking in Australia. This is a very important statistic because it shows that those testing resources we are securing and we are continuing to deploy”.The Health Minister, Greg Hunt reaffirmed that aged care workers are ‘at the forefront’ of people to be supported with testing and PPEs (personal protection equipment).

At the same time the Department of Health warns aged care providers of delays in receiving PPE due to increased demand – and only masks available.

The Department says it can only provide masks at this stage with other PPE to be provided “when available” – raising questions about the PPE stocks available to providers and aged care staff.
In an email to providers, the Department says it has introduced a new process for aged care providers to access PPE supplies – asking aged care services and staff not to approach the Primary Health Networks (PHNs) but instead email for all requests.

The Department says it will then triage the requests – with priority given to facilities, programs and workers where there has been a confirmed case of coronavirus.

“It is important to remember that if you do not have a confirmed case of COVID-19 within your facility, program or service you should expect delays in receiving your PPE due to the increase in demand,” it reads.

The letter also asks providers to list in their request the details of the suppliers they have attempted to source PPE stock from – and the types and quantities of PPE required, but adds: “please note, only masks are available at this stage and other PPE will be provided when available”.

The Government had assured the sector at the previous Friday’s aged care forum on the coronavirus in Canberra that it would make the availability of PPE to aged care services a priority.

What the research tells us

It’s time for budgeting your ‘Person Assets’

Much time is spent during the annual budget review period on the physical assets of the village – quantity surveyor reports, valuations, building inspections – are all actioned diligently in accordance with legislation or company policy.

However so often the very important PERSON ASSETS of the village – the people who make up your team – get overlooked. 

This budget review phase is a great time to conduct Performance appraisals with Village team members.

You can be looking at any increase provisions, training or professional development actions, and that team entitlements are allocated effectively. 

A common mistake when conducting performance appraisals is to make the review one-way, top down, which sees the leader as the judge, jury and decision maker of the employee’s behaviours and achievements.

It is really important to ensure that the process is two-way, and if you really want to look at effective reviews then consider using the 360-degree system. It allows for a peer and stakeholder review as well as self-review.

There are many online solutions to conduct this review – SurveyMonkey even has a template you can use.

Another common mistake when conducting performance appraisals is that there is no investigation of what might be causing an employee not to reach their performance targets.

In my experience, people don’t under-perform for no reason.

Sometimes it can be a case of a simple misunderstanding, a lack of upfront or ongoing training, boredom, lack of support or regular two-way dialogue. Sound familiar?  

So often employees come away from performance appraisals going “so what?” “What a waste of time…” as there is no follow-up action put in place, no ‘What’s Next’! for the employee. 

It is vital if we want to keep people engaged in our sector and communities that we formalise the support we are prepared to provide and invest in their future careers.

For me keeping it simple is important – a simple action plan outlining 2-3 actions for the next quarter/half year, (a special project, a learning activity, increased responsibility) with a commitment of a regular follow up and support meetings is imperative to keep our team engaged and energised.

Key things to help you everyday

Burn out or reach out

As a Village Manager you are likely to face daily challenges within your own community – death, illness, divorce, declining health, operational challenges, legislative changes, organisational pressures and resident demands, to name a few. 

Then add to this drought, flood, bushfires and now COVID-19 concerns. 

It is no wonder that this year I already have personally been approached by nearly half a dozen Village Managers feeling the challenges are just too much. 

This distressed me and I spoke to Samantha Young, Managing Director of Human Psychology.

She quickly highlighted the positives: these Village Managers are acknowledging how they are feeling and reaching out for support. 

Samantha was quick to provide me with a Top 10 list of actions that Village Managers can consider if they find themselves nearing leadership burnout.

Here they are:

  1. Know your early warning signs. Common burnout symptoms include poor sleep, loss of motivation, exhaustion, feeling every day at work is a bad day, increased irritability and engaging in escapist behaviours like excessive drinking. This is a time to take action.
  2. Empower your team and delegate more – share your vision and purpose and reduce micro-managing.
  3. Become more deliberate with your time. Use your leisure time wisely. Seek out positive people and sources of relaxation and achievement outside of work.
  4. Take a break20 minutes a day. No texting, no internet, just you and an introspective practice (like mindfulness). What you do during this time can vary. What matters most is that you’re away from your tasks. Unplug!
  5. Rewind, reflect, remember – take time to remember why you’re doing what you do. What is your purpose? Why is this work so important to you? What do you hope to achieve?
  6. Get the fundamentals right – diet, sleep and exercise.
  7. Honestly assess your situationand work toward solutions. Ask yourself the following questions: “Why am I doing what I am doing? What’s one thing can I change today? What action can I take to alter my situation? Can I allow myself to take a break from my current situation? How long would I need?”
  8. Mentally remove yourself from the job – step back and try to look at your job from an external objective point of view. Imagine how others might view your responsibilities and the expectations they would reasonably hold.
  9. Manage your energy, not your time. Work out when you are most productive and do important tasks then. Chart your energy and rank activities in terms of whether they energise you or drain you. Then do what you’re best at when you’re at your best
  10. Increase your self-efficacy – the belief in your own ability to accomplish and exercise control over personally meaningful goals and tasks. The most direct and effective way to enhance self-efficacy is through performance mastery experiences. Seek out coaching and professional development experiences to identify mastery experiences. 

The Village Manager’s role is crucial to the success of the village, including the happiness and wellbeing of village residents and staff. 

First and foremost, it is vital that you look after your own wellbeing to ensure you are able to continue to look after residents and staff.

If you find yourself getting close to the point where you feel like you need the oxygen mask, please consider a courageous conversation with a senior leader, contacting human resources, phoning your organisational Employee Assistance Program, visiting your GP or calling Lifeline 13 11 14.

Things to watch

Where to get the correct information on coronavirus for your residents

Coronavirus is most dangerous to older people and particularly those over 80.

This group has a 14.8% death rate according to a large epidemiological study of 72,000 cases in China.

Now is the time to review your infectious diseases policy and procedure and consider whether a specific COVID-19 policy and procedure is required.

Here are some steps to start the process:

  1. Regularly review the advice of the Health Authority and check the advice for staff. A good place to start is with this Health Department web site and fact sheets for you and your staff.
  2. Develop a notification program to residents – which may change as the advice changes. It can include the most current advice from Health Agencies, personal hygiene standards within common areas, information on self-isolation requirements
  3. Develop a similar communication strategy, on the job training, and reinforcement activities for all staff. You may also consider a mandatory notification of symptoms/travel to a nominated senior executive.
  4. Review the requirement for visitors/contractors to the site, long and short term, and the need for them to acknowledge and adhere to the guidelines set out for residents and staff.

Here are other COVID-19 resources