COVID-19 Information and Planning

The coronavirus (COVID-19) is front-of-mind for all of us. It is a dynamic and global situation and we are all in it together. IPAR is taking a precautionary approach to managing the spread of COVID-19, which is in line with the latest national health advice.

Centralised information, planning and expertise

IPAR’s parent company, MedHealth, has a working group to ensure we are sharing information, optimising our preparation and managing any issues that may arise from the COVID-19 outbreak. This group monitors the situation daily.

We are well positioned to access any additional expert advice we may need. Our Chief Medical Officer, Dr Peter Steadman, has engaged the services of two leading doctors to contribute, assisting with specific disease advice and organisational health management.

We are basing all our centralised advice and screening protocols on the Australian Department of Health advice and daily updates.

Our operations

As much as possible, our operations will proceed as normal. As always, in the event of any disruption or changes, we will keep you fully informed.

Visitors to our premises

All our premises are operating with robust screening and management protocols. Our focus is on safeguarding all visitors.

  • All appointment reminder processes whether by phone, email or text (where allowed) screen clients, customers or visitors for any travel and / or recent symptoms of cold or influenza, including shortness of breath, fever, etc. This occurs 1-2 days before clients are to attend appointments at our premises. We also ensure that our clients know that they cannot bring more than one other person to the appointment with them.
  • Additionally, all front-of-house team members screen clients, customers or visitors upon arrival:
      1. Do you have, have you had or are you being tested for COVID-19?
      2. Have you been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19?
      3. Do you have / or have you had cold and flu symptoms within the past 14 days?
      4. Have you travelled overseas and returned to Australia in the past 14 days?
      5. Have you travelled from Victoria in the past 14 days?
      6. For all Melbourne offices – Do you reside in one of the following postcodes: 3012; 3021; 3031; 3032; 3038; 3042; 3046; 3047; 3051; 3055; 3060; 3064?
  • For points 1-5, appointments should not proceed for anyone answering yes to the above, however can be rebooked for >14 days.
  • For point 6, appointments should not proceed for anyone answering yes, however can be rebooked for >4 weeks.
  • MedHealth has set up an advisory hotline on COVID-19, offering advice and support on each unique scenario for our people. Should a client present at our premises with any potential exposure to COVID-19, our team member calls the hotline for advice on next steps, while also immediately isolating the individual in question, ensuring mask use and supporting them to mitigate risk as they travel home to seek medical support via telephone. Under consultation with the Specialist, the appointment does not go ahead if there is any identified risk.

Protocols if someone presents with cold or flu symptoms to our offices

  • We will isolate the individual into a room.
  • Provide them with tissues or a mask.
  • Organise for transportation home via taxi and advise them not to visit public places.
  • Ensure they contact their treating practitioner and the Coronavirus information line on 1800 020 080.

Protocols, support and considerations for our people

If any of our team members are unwell, we ask they do not come into the office. This is for any illness, whether respiratory or not. It is an especially important principle at the moment.

We are following all Australian Department of Health guidelines on travel and self-imposed quarantine.

Additionally, MedHealth’s employer direct business Cogent Thinking has been operating a hotline within MedHealth since 2 March, to support our team in managing risk and ensuring safety.

As always, IPAR puts the health and safety of our people, customers and clients at the forefront of our thinking and actions. Please do not hesitate to get in touch if there are any issues you would like to discuss.

Woman on video conferencing call while working from home

Home Ergonomics Support and Training to Work Safely from Home

As more and more people are working from home across Australia, employers are seeking easily accessible home ergonomics support and training for their employees on how to create a safe, comfortable and appropriate work environment.

Whether a team member needs a one-on-one home ergonomic assessment, or a whole team of people need virtual home ergonomics training, IPAR is ready to assist.

One-on-one Home Ergonomic Assessment

The home ergonomic assessment is a 30-minute phone or Skype consultation between the team member and one of IPAR’s Allied Health Professionals. Working through a thorough home ergonomic checklist, the consultation assesses and addresses risks factors in the home environment and provides practical advice on work station set up, accessories, tasks and duties.

Strong4Life™ Virtual Home Ergonomic Training

The virtual home ergonomics training is conducted by one of IPAR’s Strong4Life™ trainers via video conferencing technology. Available to up to 10 team members at a time, the training covers ergonomic strategies and principles that participants can implement in their own home, for a comfortable set up with their own equipment.

To learn more or to make a booking, please link in with Aaron Bowes or email rehab@ipar.com.au. Or to find the IPAR office located closest to you, please refer to our office locator.

POSTPONED: NSW Drought Relief Community Sessions

Tamworth: In line with the most recent Government advice to avoid all non-essential contact, we have made the tough decision to postpone a number of our rural NSW drought relief mental health community support sessions until the end of April. After which time, we will review the situation and provide further feedback on future dates.

Sessions postponed include Moree, Coonabarabran, Tamworth and Gunnedah.

Following community feedback, we have however decided to proceed with the Bingara community session as planned, this coming Monday 23rd March.

A decision on the remaining two sessions at Inverell and Tenterfield will be made closer to the time.

For further information, please contact Melissa Butler via mbutler@ipar.com.au or 0434 524 870.

 

Supporting the Mental Health of Drought Affected Communities

Tamworth: A major impact of drought within communities is the effect it has on individual’s mental health and wellbeing, due to extreme and prolonged periods of stress and uncertainty.

Tackling the issue of mental health head-on, supporting her local community of Tamworth and surrounding region, Melissa Butler, Area Manager – western NSW, at IPAR and her team are spearheading a free mental health support and educational program to raise the topic of and safeguard the mental health of small businesses, families and individuals affected by drought.

IPAR partnered with the Hunter New England and Central Coast Primary Health Network (HNECC PHN) to raise an Empowering our Communities grant, funding the project and delivery of much-needed mental health education and a community support program to be delivered across 10 western NSW locations, including outreach areas.

These free sessions, comprising a formal presentation followed by informal drop-in centre, are scheduled at:

Dubbo
Monday 9 March, 12 noon
Dubbo Regional Council, Ground Floor Conference Room West, Cnr Church and Darling St, Dubbo

Nyngan
Tuesday 10 March, 9am
Nyngan Town Hall, 71 Cobar Street

Bourke
Wednesday 11 March, 9am
Bourke Shire Council, 29 Mitchell Street

Bingara
Monday 23 March, 9am
Bingara Council, 74 Maitland Street

Moree
Monday 23 March, 2pm till 5pm
Moree Family Support Service, 21 Auburn Street

Tamworth
Friday 17 April, 11:30am
Calrossy Anglican School, Brisbane Street

Coonabarabran
Monday 20 April, 10am
Coonabarabran Council, in the Gallery Room, Warrumbungle Shire Council

Inverell
Monday 4 May, 11am
Inverell Public Library, Campbell Street

Tenterfield
Tuesday 5 May, 9am
Tenterfield Bowling Club, Corner of Molesworth and Station Street

Dates and locations are to be confirmed for Gunnedah, so please check back here for further updates.

For further information, please contact Melissa Butler via mbutler@ipar.com.au or 0434 524 870.

Published in the Journal of Cancer Survivorship

Helping people with cancer return to health, wellness and work is a strong focus for us here at IPAR. We are proud that our work, along with that of our valued partners Swiss Re and AIA Australia, has been published in the Journal of Cancer Survivorship.

‘Building a novel occupational rehabilitation program to support cancer survivors to return to health, wellness, and work in Australia’ authored by Dr Dianne Sheppard, Dorothy Frost, Michael Jefford, Georgia Halkett and Moira O’Connor explores the outcomes of an innovative pilot that aims to improve support for survivors seeking to transition back to work.

The program development was collaboration at its best: drawing together researchers, occupational rehabilitation and insurance sectors, cancer support services, and survivors to develop a tailored, multimodal program. And it works: preliminary outcomes showed 67% of participants with improved certified capacity to work, translating to 87% with improved work status.

Read the article abstract here and for more information about how you can support people recovering from cancer, please contact Dorothy Frost.

Well Deserved Double Win at ARPA Awards

Representatives from IPAR’s Queensland team celebrate the national ARPA awards

We were delighted to see IPAR’s Tarryn Botha receive the Queensland Award for Exceptional Leadership at the 2019 Australian Rehabilitation Provider Association (ARPA) Excellence in Workplace Rehabilitation Awards, and then go on to win the National ARPA Exceptional Leadership Award too.

When Tarryn joined IPAR in 2017 she was leading a small vocational services team. Her commitment to quality service delivery, a seamless experience for all stakeholders, and industry leading return to work performance has seen that team more than triple in size. Tarryn’s supportive and collaborative leadership style has been consistently recognised by her team. Her staff regularly indicate that her leadership is a primary motivating factor, and an inspiration for them continuing to achieve the best they can for their clients.

Congratulations Tarryn on this very well-deserved win. To be voted most exceptional leader in the country by a group of industry representatives is a huge achievement. Special congratulations also to other IPAR finalists: Peta Siggers (finalist in the Queensland New Starter Award), and Georgia Williams (finalist for the National Same Employer Consultant Award).

Win at the West Australian ARPA Awards

Our team enjoyed a fantastic night at the Australian Rehabilitation Providers Association (ARPA) Western Australian 2019 Excellence in Workplace Rehabilitation Awards.

Congratulations to IPAR’s Georgia Williams who won for ‘Outstanding Consultant, Same Employer’. Georgia consistently achieves positive outcomes for clients facing the most complex barriers to their recovery and return to work. And with return to work rates always well above scheme average, she is an incredibly deserving winner of this award. Congratulations Georgia!

Win for Best New Starter at ARPA Victoria Awards

IPAR was proud to have a number of finalists at the Victorian Australian Rehabilitation Providers Association (ARPA) 2019 Excellence in Workplace Rehabilitation Awards. Congratulations to Nadia Perich, Nadine Toic, Tina Di Labio and Rebecca Cowen for their well-deserved nominations and being short listed as finalists.

A particular congratulations to Rebecca Cowen, who won the award in the Best New Starter category.

Thank you to ARPA for hosting a great night celebrating with IPAR and industry colleages the important work being done by the Victorian workplace rehabilitation industry.

Important launch to move Beyond Cancer

Thank you to our valued customers and industry colleagues who joined us for breakfast at the Ivy Sunroom in Sydney as we launched the Beyond Cancer rehabilitation program to support cancer survivors in their return to health, wellness and work.

For the 40% of people diagnosed with cancer each year who are of working age, the transition towards thinking about work can be complex. In 2017, IPAR collaborated with Monash University and Swiss Re to develop an evidence-based program that specifically assists people with cancer to remain at, or return to work. Piloted with AIA Australia in 2018, the program attracted funding from the National Breast Cancer Foundation to evaluate the model as a formal clinical trial.

The breakfast event was a chance to explore the promising outcomes of this pilot. We also heard first-hand from inspirational speaker, Sarah Donnelly, as she shared her personal journey with cancer and work, including how important the structure and social engagement of work was as she sought to retain some ‘normalcy’ throughout treatment and recovery.

Just as it was for Sarah, it is clear that for many people with cancer, work is a vital part of their identity and recovery. Beyond Cancer aims to provide the support necessary to enable cancer survivors to understand their symptoms, improve their health literacy, adopt strategies for self-management and build resilience for overall health, wellness and work. The program has attracted funding from the National Breast Cancer Foundation to evaluate the model as a formal clinical trial, enabling us to help many more people with cancer and ultimately contribute to the research base that supports cancer survivors now and in the future.

For further information on Beyond Cancer, please contact us.

Leading the Way in Breast Cancer Return to Work Research

Our Research and Innovation Unit, led by Dorothy Frost, General Manager Research and Innovation, is proud to be working with partners at Monash and Curtin Universities to help women with breast cancer diagnoses recover and return to work – important work that has been highlighted in a publication from The Economist Intelligence Unit.

As noted in Breast cancer patients and survivors in the Asia-Pacific workforce, while Australia has one of the highest rates of breast cancer in the world, it also has one of the highest survival rates. Many of the one in eight Australian women who will be diagnosed with breast cancer by the age of 85 are of working age, and many want to continue to work, as it is “both an economic necessity and often psychologically beneficial.”

Of course, the journey of recovery and returning to work is unique to every individual. Dr Bogda Koczwara, medical oncologist and senior staff specialist at the Flinders Centre for Innovation in Cancer, Flinders University, says, “The key to progress is getting all stakeholders to support two principles: work is valuable and everybody is different.”

IPAR is piloting a return to good work program for breast cancer survivors. Funded by the National Breast Cancer Foundation, the pilot will test a three-pronged approach that assesses breast cancer patients, gives them health coaching and educates workplace representatives. A trained IPAR occupational rehabilitation consultant will liaise with the patient, employer, doctor and other providers and monitor progress.

The research aims to create a toolkit that can be tailored to each individual and, if successful, will be used for a national rollout. A key part of the project will involve measuring how this approach affects primary return to work outcomes along with more tangential outcomes, such as quality of life, values around health, work and employer, physical symptoms, psychological distress and empowerment.

We look forward to bringing our customers and the workplace rehabilitation industry more information around pilot outcomes when these become available later in the year.

We also welcome the opportunity to discuss how our Beyond Cancer Rehabilitation and Return to Work services can assist people diagnosed with cancer and their employers. Please contact Jo Broomhall for further information.