What a year this has been! The rapid rise and spread
of the coronavirus (COVID-19) has forced us to re-think the way we normally do things….
This was particularly the case for us at Leisure Networks given that all our services are based in Victoria – a state which has seen some of the toughest restrictions in Australia, if not the world. During this time of great uncertainty and stress, our priority was to keep our staff, our customers
and loved ones healthy, safe and connected. We are incredibly proud to say that our amazing teams at Leisure Networks rallied together and rose to the challenge. Below, we have highlighted some examples of the fantastic work we have done to maintain continuity of, and implement innovative solutions for, our critical supports and services.
Helping our customers and staff deal with sudden changes ;
At the forefront of everything we did and continue to do, including informing customers of the cancellations of eagerly-anticipated events, processing refunds (including for an international cruise), addressing customer concerns and anxieties, and answering queries ranging from changes in service provision to Personal Protective Equipment requirements. The Financial Plan Management Team increased staffing to ensure continuity in essential service delivery for customers and providers, from making payments within three business days of receiving new invoices, to ensuring that cash flow for providers was not compromised because of delays.
Working amidst a global pandemic is not easy. However, our staff members really stepped up in showing support and compassion for each other, through helping each other adjust quickly to new ways of working, being available for training and sharing workloads, and boosting morale.
Protecting the health and safety of our people
Wellness Checks became, and still are, part of our daily process as well as a lifeline for many customers and staff.
In April, as part of our COVID-19 response, we appointed a dedicated Wellness Check Coordinator – Tegan Curwood. Tegan’s role includes keeping abreast of the latest Government direction regarding the prevention and management of COVID-19 and ensuring that best practice is followed when providing our essential disability support services. While health and safety are our main priorities, the need for connection is also recognised as an important element and therefore incorporated into these Wellness Checks (which are completed with all staff and customers prior to any shifts).
Another example of a measure we have taken to maximise safe working conditions while maintaining our essential services is the Financial
Plan Management team being split across two office locations in order to allow safe social distancing.
Supporting the move to remote working
As part of the suite of initiatives to keep our staff, customers and the wider community safe and healthy, the shift to remote working has been one of the most challenging. There was a sudden reliance on technology we previously had little to no experience with (e.g. Microsoft Teams and Zoom), as well as having to cope with the social isolation imposed by the abrupt limitation or cessation of face-to-face contact with colleagues. All this occurred in the context of still needing to maintain, perhaps more than ever, a sense of normalcy and routine in essential service provision to our customers.
Our staff showed and continue to show amazing strength, resilience and care in adapting to these changes.
For example, teams will often get together via Microsoft Teams for the sole purpose of “checking in” and supporting one another. In order to stay strong physically and mentally as well as cope with lockdown-related issues such as parents needing to home-school their children, we now encourage even greater flexibility in our work practices. This ensures that our staff members maintain a healthy work-life balance.