Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic . . . how we are responding

Updates 22 August 2020


Mercy Community has taken swift action to ensure the safety of our team members and the people we support. We have put place extra health and safety measures during the COVID-19 public health emergency and have COVID-19 plans for all our services, facilities and offices.

Every day we closely monitoring information from the Australian Government, Queensland Health, and World Health Organisation, and update our policies and procedures in line with government requirements.

Mercy Community is a long-standing provider with a legacy of compassion and support for people throughout Queensland.  We are balancing compassion with the need to protect our community during this time.

To this end we have taken decisive steps to ensure the health and safety of the people we support, our team members, volunteers and the wider community.

We have:

  • Made sure that our teams and volunteers comply with 14-day self-isolation and quarantine periods.  This includes team members who have travelled, been exposed to the virus, or are direct support workers with potential symptoms.
  • Put into effect social distancing measures, which include restricting visitors to our residential aged care facility at Nudgee, Brisbane.
  • Required team members to work from home where possible, except for people who provide direct supports.
  • Introduced extra hygiene and cleaning practices, training and protocols.
  • Made the 2020 flu vaccination available to all our team members and the residents at our aged care facility.

As an organisation, Mercy Community has supported individuals and families throughout Queensland for over 150 years.

Many people rely on us to provide them with much-needed programs and individual supports. These include senior Australians who have chosen to make our aged care facility their home. They include foster carers and children in out-of-home care who are unable to live with their families.  And they include NDIS participants in over 40 Local Government Areas, from Tweed Heads to Townsville.

During the COVID-19 outbreak, our goal is to keep delivering our vital services with minimal or no disruption, while protecting all those we support.

We value the ongoing understanding and support of our community throughout these challenging times.

Where can I find out more about Mercy Community’s COVID-19 response?

The Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) below provide more information on Mercy Community’s COVID-19 response. These FAQ will be updated to reflect any changes to our approach.

Please be assured that Mercy Community is working closely with all our stakeholders, partners, suppliers, and the people we support to keep services running as smoothly as possible during this unprecedented situation. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us.

Frequently Asked Questions

How is Mercy Community responding to COVID-19?

Mercy Community has in place business continuity measures and a clear framework for responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

We are in regular contact with government health officials and other agencies, and have strict measures to protect community wellbeing.

In line with government guidance, we are requiring all team members and volunteers to self-isolate for 14 days if they:

  • Have been exposed to COVID-19, or have been in contact with someone who has COVID-19
  • Have a diagnosis of COVID-19
  • Are returning from overseas travel

We also require anyone who has symptoms to self-isolate until their health status can be confirmed. For our residential aged care workers, these rules are also applying:

  • From 1 May, our team members must have the flu vaccination to work in our aged care facility
  • They must not go to work if they have a fever or symptoms of a respiratory illness. We are conducting health checks to make sure our team members are meeting this requirement.

What extra steps is Mercy Community taking on health and hygiene?                              

Mercy Community is increasing our training and education on health and hygiene.  We are supporting our team members and the people we support to access the flu vaccination.

  • All team members have access to specific COVID-19 hygiene and handwashing training
  • We’re providing our teams and the people we support extra resources and information. This includes advice on how to identify COVID-19 symptoms and stop the spread through good hygiene like:
  • Washing hands often with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitiser
  • Keeping hands away from the eyes, nose and mouth to prevent germs from spreading
  • Regularly cleaning surfaces with alcohol‑based wipes.
  • We are working with health authorities to provide flu vaccinations to our teams and the people we support.

What measures has Mercy Community taken on self-isolation?

Mercy Community employees and volunteers are required to comply with the Australian Government rules for people to self-isolate for a 14-day period if they have returned from overseas travel, been exposed to a person diagnosed with coronavirus or other circumstances.   We also require anyone with symptoms of the virus to remain away from work until their health status can be confirmed. 

How is Mercy Community managing social distancing policies?

Mercy Community takes government public health directives on social distancing very seriously. We have applied social distancing protocols in line with government policies.

We have:

  • Introduced a working externally policy for team members based in buildings on the Nudgee, Brisbane site where our aged care facility is located
  • Reduced staffing levels at other sites to support social distancing
  • Changed meetings to electronic formats (email, phone, Skype, Teams) or cancelled/ postponed them
  • Cancelled all non-essential travel and attendance at public events
  • Reviewed our public transport policies.   

Mercy Community’s social distancing policy applies to all team members, contractors, suppliers, volunteers, and the people we support.  We are advising our team members about consequences of not following self-isolation and social distancing guidelines, which in Queensland can include fines of up to $13,345 for people who do not comply with 14-day quarantine periods, and other penalties as indicated by Queensland Health.

As government policies are updated, we are also updating our risk assessments of individual programs and plans. In some cases we will be looking at different arrangements for in-person appointments or activities, for example phone, email, Skype, and video-based options.

We remain committed to finding new ways to keep us strong as a community, and to keep people connected with their regular activities, beyond face-to-face contact.

How is Mercy Community managing workforce and supply issues?

As an essential service, Mercy Community needs to ensure we have enough team members and supplies to maintain our 150-year tradition of delivering support to people throughout Queensland, and now Northern NSW.

We are working proactively with our government, non-government, network, agency and community partners and suppliers to achieve this. This includes workforce planning to maintain continuity of services; and planning for and sourcing adequate medication, food, household, PPE and hygiene supplies.

Am I able to visit Mercy Community’s Aged Care facility?

From 5 May 2020, Mercy Community will be introducing a phased return to visiting at our residential aged care facility in Nudgee, Brisbane. 

We are working with our teams, residents, and family members to proceed with arranging visits in a coordinated, safe way.  As always, our priority is the health and safety of our elderly residents, who are especially vulnerable in this public health emergency. 

As visitor restrictions ease, Mercy Community is introducing processes to monitor visitor entry and screening,  and record evidence that visitors have received the mandatory flu immunisation before entering the facility.

Mercy Community will keep making sure the people we support and their families stay connected in a range of ways.  Throughout the COVID-19 period, we have worked cooperatively with each individual resident and family to put in place individual Communication and Wellbeing Plans that identify how each person and their family want to stay in touch. Residents and families have been able to keep in close contact through newer methods like Skype videoconferencing, as well as letters, photos and phone calls.

Recognising the deep importance of people’s spiritual as well as social needs, we have streamed live mass services and put in place extra pastoral care support at the facility.

What extra safety and hygiene measures has Mercy Community adopted at the Aged Care facility?

Mercy Community has taken additional steps to protect the people in our aged care facility, who are especially at risk in this time. 

As well as carefully managing access to our residential aged care facility, we are complying with government guidelines on self-isolation. These require aged care workers to isolate themselves for 14 days after returning from overseas or having been in close contact with someone confirmed to have COVID-19.

We have put in place extra measures for the team members who provide care for our residents, which include temperature checks before they start work, and extra cleaning and personal protective equipment (PPE) protocols.

We are also enforcing the requirements that our residential aged care team members must:

  • Be tested for coronavirus if they have been overseas, in contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19, or have symptoms of the virus
  • Not work if they have a fever or symptoms of a respiratory illness, and
  • From 1 May, must have their flu vaccination to work in the facility.

What are Mercy Community’s flu vaccination requirements for the Aged Care facility?

The government is requiring that by 1 May, all visitors entering a residential aged care facility must have a flu vaccination. This is an important way of keeping people from getting ill and keeping the pressure off our health system.  Mercy Community is making a free flu vaccine available to all our residents and team members at the aged care facility.

We are also required by government to ask all visitors to the facility – including Mercy Community team members, suppliers and contractors, volunteers, family members and friends – to provide evidence that they’ve had the flu vaccine before going into the facility.

We’ll be asking people for their understanding and cooperation in supplying the necessary evidence while this policy remains in effect.  This could include a certificate from a health provider, or  a copy of a Medicare immunisation history record.

For more information on flu vaccinations and facility restrictions, please visit the Queensland Health website.  The Australian Government Department of Health website has information for families and residents on restricted visits to aged care facilities, and COVID-19 resources for older Australians.

I’m an NDIS participant and Mercy Community is providing me with support. Is there any impact on me?

Mercy Community will continue to provide supports that are critical to NDIS participants.

We may have to adjust how some supports are provided but will work with each person to determine how this will look.

Where we need to change how we deliver support we will discuss with you options such as different ways of delivery, or postponing activities until a more appropriate time.

Most importantly we will keep communicating with you at every point. Please be assured that our number one priority is keep support to all participants running smoothly.

How will I find out if there are any changes to how my supports are delivered?


Mercy Community is closely monitoring the current COVID-19 situation, which is changing very rapidly. We are adapting our responses to new government policies and guidelines.

Where there are changes to existing arrangements, we will discuss these with and notify you as soon as possible. Please make sure to let us know of any changes to your contact details including emergency contacts.

Who can I talk to if I need to?

All Mercy Community NDIS Services can be contacted by phone and email.

I’m receiving assistance through QCSS. Will Mercy Community still be coming to my home to help?

Yes, your Mercy Community team member will still be providing you with support. However, we will be checking with you first on your health status including any symptoms of the virus.

When team members attend in-person appointments, they will be following federal government requirements on social distancing, as appropriate to your supports.  They will also be observing strict hygiene and cleaning protocols.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us directly through this website or your regular Mercy Community contact.

I’m receiving support from Mercy Community’s Families and Young People services (for example, residential care and transitions, foster and kinship care, counselling, FaCC, Romero Centre).

Will the COVID-19 situation have any impact on me?

Mercy Community is an essential service and we will continue to deliver our Families and Young People services and programs. We are closely monitoring government updates and following government guidelines on social distancing, including in relation to group and public gatherings.

We may have to adjust how some programs are provided, but when we do this we will communicate with you about any decisions we make.

In some cases, the way Mercy Community delivers support will not change. In other cases, we may have to move to different ways of delivering services (such as online or phone), or we may postpone activities until a more appropriate time.

Most importantly we will keep communicating with you at every point. Please be assured that our number one priority is keep our services to you running smoothly.

How will I find out if there are any changes to how my supports are delivered?

Mercy Community is closely monitoring the current COVID-19 situation, which is changing very rapidly. We are adapting our responses to new government policies and guidelines.

Where there are changes to existing arrangements, we will discuss these with you and notify you as soon as possible. Please make sure to let us know of any changes to your contact details including emergency contacts.

Who can I talk to if I need to?

In line with government social distancing requirements, Mercy Community Families and Young People Services have reduced our on-site presence in our offices. Our team members are closely following social distancing and hygiene guidelines. You can continue to contact us by phone and email.

Connecting you to the support you need