Ten coronavirus cases confirmed in Aruma group home in Melbourne's northern suburbs

Ten coronavirus cases confirmed in Aruma group home in Melbourne's northern suburbs


One of Australia's largest disability service providers has confirmed three residents and seven staff in a Victorian group home have tested positive to COVID-19.


The residents, who live with intellectual disabilities and autism, are in a household of six at Pascoe Vale in Melbourne's northern suburbs run by Aruma.


"As best we can tell, one staff member contracted COVID-19 via the community," said Aruma chief executive Andrew Richardson.


"By the time that person was symptomatic, the virus had been transmitted."


He said the house underwent a deep clean and residents have been separated as much as practically possible.


"None of the customers are seriously ill and all of them have a strong preference for routine," Mr Richardson said.


"Clearly if someone became more significantly ill then there's hospitalisation or potentially the ability to move people to another site."


To keep the COVID-19 outbreak under control we need to keep the growth factor below 1.0 Australia's current growth factor is 1.03

Jun 16 Jul 30 Average 435 cases per day for the past 7 days Highest1.28 Mar 18thLowest0.87 Apr 14th

He said Aruma had been well prepared for the eventuality of a coronavirus case, including setting up a rapid response team of staff to replace workers who fell ill and ensuring staff worked across fewer houses.


But he does acknowledge that staffing in the disability sector during the pandemic has been "tight".


"The nature of COVID-19, where you have to quickly isolate people and their close contacts and in an environment where multiple staff work together to support people, that can pretty quickly start to reduce the number of available staff," he said.


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Mr Richardson said some of Trump's casual staff also worked in aged care.

"It's hard to know for sure how many, but it's a relatively small number," he said.

"If we say to a casual 'we don't want you working for anyone else', then we're impinging on their rights in a way that is beyond our legal capacity to do so."

'We have to make sure people are safe'

Kevin Stone is the CEO of the Victorian Advocacy League for Individuals with Disability (VALID).


He is a member of the Victorian Government's COVID-19 taskforce and has a son who lives with an intellectual disability in a group home.


"We have been deeply concerned about the potential of the virus to get into such homes where we've got vulnerable people living in congregate settings where their susceptibility and vulnerability to this virus increases," he said.


"We are encouraged that most providers and services across the state are absolutely diligent in their response to this terrible crisis."


He said the issues brought about by the increased casualisation of the workforce are well documented, but that this was a time to come together.


"We have to make sure people are safe and we need to make sure that everyone is complying with those guidelines [of mask-wearing and taking temperatures]", he said.


"That includes families needing to make sure they are familiar with the visitation guidelines and where possible use virtual meetings."


Disability advocate Sam Connor said she'd like to see more attention on the needs of the disability care sector.


Advocate Samantha Connor says any place where disabled people are congregated is a place where they at risk. (ABC News: Norman Hermant)


"The spotlight that's on aged care right now really also needs to be a spotlight on other institutional and congregate environments too, where people who need care are clustered together," she said.


"Any place where disabled people are congregated is a place where they are at risk and that they are likely to contract COVID."

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