21

Sep
2021

Increased vaccine supply to Byron LGA will start to meet community demand

Contrary to some media portrayals, residents from the Byron Shire are keen to get a COVID vaccine.

Local medical clinics report long waiting lists for the jab, and as soon as any doses arrive, they have no trouble filling appointments.

Healthy North Coast CEO Julie Sturgess says current vaccination rates are lower for some parts of the shire because of the limited Pfizer supply in previous months, but this is set to change in coming weeks.

‘Until recently, the Byron Shire LGA allocation from the national stockpile was quite low, and we have been advocating for increased doses for our communities. This is being addressed, and we have a significant increase in the supply of Pfizer vaccine starting this month,’ said Ms Sturgess.

‘We will see a 500% increase in Pfizer doses being delivered to the Byron Shire LGA within days. This will further increase next month to 800% more than what we received in earlier months.’

Over September, Healthy North Coast supported the onboarding of 10 additional general practices in Byron Shire.

A well-known tourist hub with 2.7 million visitor nights annually*, Byron Shire LGA’s current rate for people having received their first dose is 60.9%. This compares to an average of 70% for first doses in the Richmond-Tweed region.

Some people are concerned about unvaccinated residents being vulnerable when visitors start to return, and some suggest that anti-vaccination populations are to blame.

However, Ms Sturgess says that while the region has a minority population that may choose not to get vaccinated, this is not the general community opinion.

‘We believe most people will choose to be protected as supply starts to meet demand,’ she said.

‘We need to give Byron Bay a chance before jumping to conclusions of widespread vaccine hesitancy.

‘Also, earlier this year, Healthy North Coast held a local community consultation to find out how people felt about COVID-19, and how it had impacted their lives and their thoughts about vaccination. At that time, 77% of surveyed people living in Byron LGA either already had (22%), definitely would (39%) or probably would (16%) get vaccinated against COVID-19. This is in line with national sentiment trends.

‘The results from our community consultation tell us that our residents understand the threat of COVID and that most people want to get vaccinated when they can. These results are in line with national sentiment trends.

‘We have been working closely with general practices that have been fielding high volumes of patient enquiries for vaccination appointments. The current Pfizer supply increase will assist them in starting to meet this demand.

‘We’re confident we will see a strong uplift in numbers of residents being able to get protected over the next few weeks as these additional doses start to get administered.

‘We will be watching the data and appointment availability closely over the coming weeks and will work collaboratively with local health providers if issues are identified with Byron’s vaccine uptake.’

Healthy North Coast encourages all residents to make a vaccination appointment by visiting the online Vaccine Clinic Finder today.

‘If you have been waiting to make an appointment, now’s the time to plan to get vaccinated. Please don’t be complacent as the threat of the virus, even for young people, is very real,’ Ms Sturgess said.

‘Pharmacies are also joining the rollout program to start offering Moderna vaccines, which also helps overcome previous supply limitations. Let’s make the North Coast a COVID-safe region so that we can safely make a return to a more normal life.’

New stay-at-home orders for Byron, Tweed and Kempsey

Stay-at-home orders will come into effect from 5pm today for 7 days for people in the Byron, Tweed and Kempsey local government areas due to an increased COVID-19 public health risk.

These stay-at-home orders also apply to anyone who has been in an affected LGA since the following dates:

  • Kempsey LGA – 14 September
  • Byron LGA – 18 September
  • Tweed LGA – 18 September

Everyone in the affected LGAs must stay at home unless it is for an essential reason, which includes shopping for food, medical care, getting vaccinated, compassionate needs, exercise and work or tertiary education if you can’t work or study at home.

The latest orders can be found here:

https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/covid-19/Pages/public-health-orders.aspx

https://economy.id.com.au/byron/tourism-visitor-summary

Contact for media enquiries

Zoe Satherley (Mon-Wed)

Phone: 0428 623 093

Mike Hely (Wed-Fri)

Phone: 0437 978 473

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Our regional partners

  • Local Health District partners in our footprint: Mid North Coast Local Health District (MNCLHD) & Northern New South Wales Local Health District (NNSWLHD)
  • Aboriginal Medical Services (AMS)
  • The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP)
  • Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM)
  • Rural Doctors Network (RDN)
  • Rural Clinical Schools & Regional Training Hubs
  • General Practitioners
  • Registrars and International Medical Graduates
  • North Coast Allied Health Association (NCAHA)
  • Local Councils
    Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA)
  • Universities including: Charles Sturt University (CSU), University of New South Wales (UNSW), Southern Cross University (SCU)

Aged Care Disaster Management Planning

Strategic Priority Area: One team

North Coast is identified as the region most likely to be impacted by climate change in Australia and also forecasted greatest growth in those 65+.

Healthy North Coast takes a lead role in ensuring the older population and the sector that supports them are prepared for, can respond to and recover from disasters and other emergencies.

We have led eight regional disaster management capacity building workshops, bringing together SES, community organisations and the aged care sector.

We have also developed disaster preparedness tip sheets for both residential and community aged care providers.

Voluntary Assisted Dying

Strategic Priority Area: One team

In May 2022, the NSW Parliament passed the Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2022. Effective from Tuesday, 28 November 2023, eligible people have the choice to access voluntary assisted dying. 

Healthy North Coast has developed a webpage for both health professionals and consumers, with links to available information and resources.

Living with Dementia resources

Strategic Priority Area: No one is left behind

Healthy North Coast has worked with people living with dementia, their families and local service providers to develop an information booklet that will help them connect with local and national supports along their journey.

The booklet includes commonly asked questions for people to ask their GP and/or specialist.

The resource is available in digital and printed copies, with more than 5,000 distributed across the region. An e-version is available to clinicians via the Dementia and Cognitive Impairment HealthPathway.

Deteriorating Resident Triage Tool Pilot

Strategic Priority Area: One team

The Deteriorating Resident Response Tool (DRRT) has been developed to guide RN’s in Residential Aged Care homes (RACHs) to better understand, anticipate and make clinical decisions responding to the deteriorating health of residents.

The objective of the DRRT is to give RACH staff clear information to triage and provide appropriate care for a range of residents’ health conditions, and, in turn, prevent unnecessary presentations to ED.

The tool has been designed together with a specialist geriatrician, consulting with stakeholders such as Residential Aged Care Managers, NSW Ambulance, GPs, and experts from Mid and North Coast LHDs.

The pilot commences in March with four participating RACHs. Evaluation measures will include effectiveness in building RN confidence and reported reduction in unnecessary hospitalisations. Findings will inform a future planned, region-wide implementation.

North Coast Care Finders Program

Strategic Priority Area: No one is left behind

The Care Finders program is a free region-wide service to support vulnerable older people who have no-one else to help them, to learn about, apply for and set up support services.

Care finders can help people understand what aged care services are available, set up an assessment, and find and choose services. They also help people with access to other supports in the community, both accessing services for the first time and changing or finding new services and supports.

On the North Coast, Healthy North Coast has commissioned four organisations to provide this important service: EACH, Carexcell, Lifetime Connect and Footprints.

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Psychological services in residential aged care homes

Strategic Priority Area: Improving Lives Now

Healthy North Coast commissions two service providers to deliver psychological therapies and supports for older people with, or at risk of developing, a mental illness and who are living in residential aged care homes (RACHs).

The aim of the program is to both provide direct support to residents and their families and carers, as well as upskill the RACH workforce to respond to the needs of residents presenting with mental health concerns.

Social prescribing (Healthy Me Healthy Community)

Strategic Priority Area: Securing a Healthier Future

Delivered by Feros Care, the Healthy Me, Healthy Community program aims to build individual and community connections to reduce loneliness and improve wellbeing in Port Macquarie.

The program helps people to connect with community, activities, supports and services that address their broader social determinants of health, as an alternative or supplement to a clinical approach.

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Digital Health in Residential Aged Care

Strategic Priority Area: Improving Lives Now

Timely access to primary health care professionals, whether through face-to-face consultation or telehealth, is recognised as an issue for many Residential Aged Care Homes (RACHs), that in some cases can lead to potentially preventable hospitalisations. RACHs require adequate telehealth facilities to support access to virtual consultations for their residents.

Project goals

  • Assist participating RACHs to have appropriate telehealth facilities and equipment to enable their residents to virtually consult when needed with their primary health care professionals, specialists and other clinicians. 
  • Provide training to participating RACH staff to support them to have the capabilities to assist their residents in accessing virtual consultation services.
  • Encourage increased use of My Health Record by RACHs, to improve the availability and secure transfer of resident’s health care information between RACHs, primary care and acute care settings.
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Greater Choice at Home Palliative Care Program

Strategic Priority Area: Improving Lives Now

Aims to provide people who have life limiting conditions the opportunity to exercise choice and receive high quality care at home, harnessing improved and better coordinated supports and services that meet their individual needs.

Program objectives:

  • Improve access to palliative care at home and support end-of-life care systems and services (in primary health care and community care)
  • To enable the right care at the right time and in the right place (to reduce unnecessary hospitalisation)
  • Generate and use data to support continuous improvement of services across sectors
  • Use available technologies to support flexible and responsive palliative care at home, including in the after-hours.

These objectives will contribute to achieving the following intended overarching outcomes of:

  • Improved capacity and responsiveness of services to meet local needs and priorities
  • Improved patient access to quality palliative care services in the home
  • Improved coordination of care for patients across health care providers and integration of palliative care services in their region.

Education & training funding elibility

Funding is open to all primary care providers within disaster affected communities across the Healthy North Coast footprint.

Workforce Locum support and R&R funding criteria

  • Available to primary care services in disaster impacted communities within the Healthy North Coast footprint.
  • Available to support short-term workforce coverage, allowing clinicians to rest and recover.
  • Workforce-support funding in total is capped for each site, over a 12-month period:
    • $10k for GPs and/or
    • $5K for nursing and/or
    • $5k administration support and/or
    • $5K allied/pharmacy and other.
  • Funding is not to be used to fill gaps in staffing that have not been able to recruit to and not to replace existing staff.
  • Healthy North Coast will assess requirements and approve available funding directly with the service requesting support.
  • Priority will be given to sites that have immediate, short-term workforce support needs.
  • Requests will be reviewed and supported on a case-by-case basis.
  • Program funding administered via RCTI Agreement (Recipient Created Tax Invoice) to be paid monthly, or on completion of the placement (whichever comes first).
  • Practices will be required to complete a request for payment form monthly, or on completion of the placement (whichever occurs first).

Wellbeing Flexible Funding Criteria & Eligibility

  • Open to all primary care providers within disaster affected communities across the Healthy North Coast footprint.
  • Activity must be purposeful, with the aim of increasing the wellbeing of your team.
  • Requests will be assessed on a case-by-case basis, with funding allocated based on team size.*
  • Following approval by Healthy North Coast, funding will be administered via RCTI Agreement (Recipient Created Tax Invoice) upon providing proof of expenses.
  • Funding cannot be used for the purchase of alcohol, or any other goods or services where the vendor cannot quote their Australian Business Number.
  • Planned activities must occur prior to 30th June 2024.
  • Funding will not be available for retrospective activities.
*Team Size
(Total staff and contractors)
Funding Available
Small (1-5)$500-$1500
Medium (6-20)$1500-$4000
Large (>20)$4000-$5000