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Libby Ryan on supporting the community during coronavirus

3rd April 2020

Libby Ryan, Regional Team Team Leader of Benetas Community Health & Care in Victoria's rural north-west, shares her team's experience of supporting the older community during the coronavirus.

What impact has coronavirus had on the ability to offer services and support for clients?

“We’ve had to work extra hard these past weeks to ensure that our Home Care clients continue to have access to the essential items that they need.

“With all Victorians now advised to remain at home, we’ve had increased demand on meal deliveries and grocery arrangements for clients. We’ve also had increased requests for support to help clients setup new IT solutions to connect with their friends and family.

“As a Victorian wide aged care and community health provider, Benetas have also been monitoring the situation closely, following government guidance, and taking the necessary precautions to reduce the risk for all older people who we support.

“As part of this, we’ve implemented rigorous health, safety and hygiene protocols and checks for our employees to follow. Many of which include maintaining physical distancing at all times possible during service delivery.”

What have been some heart warming stories to come out of this crisis for Benetas home care workers/clients?

“It’s been wonderful to see acts of incredible generosity and care extended to many of our clients.

“We’ve had over 225 messages of love and reassurance sent to residents in our aged care homes. We’ve had bagpipes played outside aged care homes, school children send drawings and letters to our aged care clients, and companies provide us with essential provisions for our Home Care clients across Victoria.

“Our Home Care Workers have loved delivering care packages these past weeks, many of whom rely on these deliveries for their essential food and care needs. My colleague also organised the Shepparton library to deliver audio books to one of our client’s who’s vision impaired. Something that she absolutely loved!”

How can the family of clients help at this time?

“It’s important that as a community we continue to look out for those most vulnerable during this time.

“While physical distancing and isolation continues, it’s important that we prioritise checking in on older family members regularly and sharing our love, care and reassurance. Simply sending a picture by mail and making a regular phone call can make all the difference.

“We also encourage family members of clients to provide their loved ones with supermarket vouchers so that their carers can purchase items without the need to exchange money. It’s important to remember that while their services may shift during this period, their health and safety remains at the heart of our decisions and work.”


Additional information

How many home care workers does Benetas employ in Greater Shepparton?

“As part of Benetas’ state-wide Home Care service, we have eight Home Care Workers who provide essential care and support for older people in the Greater Shepparton region. This team is supported by a wider team of over 150 direct care workers and a range of locum staff to help deliver all the services.”

What services do they offer? To whom?

“We provide a wide range of Home Care Package services for people with all package levels for both older Victorians and Veterans to continue living safely at home, and feel supported during this time.

“We focus on ensuring that clients can access the services important to their safety and quality of life. And for us that means, not charging a daily care fee like other providers in order to keep these services affordable.

“Most important to this work is listening to a person’s unique interests and needs, and adapting our solutions so that they continue to feel supported and safe during this period.

“People don’t often realise how wide-ranging this work can be. As a Government Approved Home Care Package provider, our services include everything from tending to supporting a client with their shopping and personal care needs, through to arranging transportation to medical appointments and in-home nursing.

“As part of this we ensure that our clients have access to their groceries at home, all their pharmacy items and medical supplies as recommended by their therapist or doctor, and of course, continence products. We also work with clients to arrange meal deliveries and food preparation assistance where need be.

“In supporting people to be mobile and safe at home, we arrange for home maintenance as needed, the installation of home appliances and home modifications, and we help provide daily living aids such as personal alert bracelets.

“We also work with many of our clients to arrange for therapy appointments, allied healthcare and at times dental or optical appointments and expenses where need be. As you can tell, it’s quite a lot!


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