Infectious Diseases Policy

1. Purpose

1. Learning for Life Autism Centre Inc (Learning for Life) recognises that both Clients and staff have the right to be in a safe environment free from infection and other risk factors to their health and wellbeing. Through this Policy Learning for Life aims to minimise contamination and spread of infectious diseases to protect the welfare of Clients, staff and general public.

2. This Policy provides clear guidelines and procedures to follow in order to manage and minimise the spread of infectious diseases, illnesses, blood-borne viruses and infections relating to pandemic and epidemics.

3. Viruses such as HIV/AIDS and hepatitis are health issues, which concern everyone. HIV/AIDS has aroused community anxiety, often because of misinformation and ignoranc Through this Policy Learning for Life is:

  • Endorsing a caring and supportive approach to this issue.
  • Helping to inform parents and staff about the facts of HIV/AIDS and hepatitis.
  • Assuring users of the service that the service is aware of its responsibilities of providing a safe environment for staff, children and parents.
  • Assuring the community that the service is carrying out its responsibilities in relation to government legislation concerning HIV/AIDS, the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Health Act. This includes protecting against discrimination and ensuring confidentiality for staff and users in relation to the HIV/AIDS and hepatitis status of persons concerned.
  • Fulfilling obligations under all relevant State and Commonwealth legislation.

2. Policy Statement

1. Learning for Life is committed to providing a safe environment for Clients that protects and promotes their health and wellbeing.

2. Learning for Life is committed to providing a healthy and safe work environment for staff and volunteers.

3. During an epidemic or pandemic, further instruction and guidance may be issued by the DHS and the AHPPC.

4. Learning for Life may require staff to be immunised against certain diseases.

5. Learning for Life shall engage staff that have the right skills, training and clearances to meet the standards prescribed by this policy.

3. Scope

This Policy applies to all staff, volunteers, Clients (and their parents/guardians) of Learning for Life.

4. Definitions

AHPPC: the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee.

AIDS: Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome.

Client: for the purpose of this policy, a child who is enrolled in a Learning for Life program.

DHS: Department of Health and Human Services

Epidemic: is an outbreak of a contagious disease that spreads rapidly and extensively, and affects many individuals simultaneously in an area or population.

Exclusion: Unable to attend or participate in the program.

HIV: The virus that causes AIDS, which is known as Human ImmunoDeficiency Virus.

Hepatitis: This is a general term for inflammation of the liver, which can be caused by alcohol, drugs (including prescribed medications) or viral infections. There are several types of viral hepatitis namely A, B, C, D, E and G.

Illness: Any sickness and/or associated symptoms that affect the child’s normal participation in the program.

Immunisation status: The extent to which a child has been immunised in relation to the recommended immunisation schedule.

Infectious diseases: A disease that could be spread by air, water, interpersonal contact etc.

Injury: Any harm or damage to a person.

Medication: Any substance that is administered for the treatment of an illness or condition.

Minor accidents: Accidents where a cut, a scratch, or bruise is small, does not require medical attention and does not affect the consciousness of the child.

Pandemic: is an Epidemic occurring worldwide, or over a wide geographic area and affecting a large proportion of the population.

Serious medical emergency situations or accidents: Accidents or situations where the child requires medical attention, and/or which affects the consciousness of the child.

5. Communication

1. This Policy will be communicated to the parents/guardians of existing Clients on its commencement and to the parents/guardians of new Clients on the commencement of their service via a Client handout or verbally. This Policy will be made available for viewing by Clients or their parents/guardians on request.

2. This Policy will be communicated to all staff of Learning for Life on its commencement and to new staff members on the commencement of their employment in compliance with Recruitment and Induction Policy and Training and Registrations Policy. Learning for Life shall provide information an3. d training to all staff and management about this Policy and its application.

3. Client feedback about the practices of Learning for Life can be communicated according to the Client Complaints, Feedback and Grievances Policy.

4. The Infectious Diseases Policy includes:

  • An Immunisation Calendar as Appendix 1, which provides a list of vaccinations for children and when these should occur.
  • The DHS School Exclusion Table as Appendix 2, which lists the minimum period of exclusion from schools and children’s services of children or adults who contract specific infectious diseases, or are in contact with these.

6. Implementation Details

The actions required to implement this policy are:

  • Make available a copy of the policy for parents/guardians at the service and provide a copy to parents/guardians on request.
  • Display DHS School Exclusion Table in a prominent position within the service.
  • Display Local Government immunisation requirements.
  • Ensure the First Aid Kit is suitably equipped.
  • Ensure that all information required on personnel and Client records is provided and up to date.
  • Accident, injury and illness and medication books are available and used when necessary.
  • Display within the service, a step-by-step procedure for infection control.
  • Emergency evacuation procedures are displayed in the service and provided in the parent handbook.
  • Phone numbers displayed for:
    • Ambulance
    • Poisons Information Centre
    • Relevant occupational health and safety representatives, first aid representatives and key personnel.

7. Responsibilities

1. Learning for Life shall:

  • Ensure that the DHS School Exclusion Table (Appendix 2 of this policy) is displayed in a prominent position within the service.
  • Adhere to the exclusion requirements for infectious diseases, as set out in the DHS School Exclusion Table.
  • Notify parent/guardians of any outbreak of an infectious disease within the service, request that the parents/guardians advise of any child who is not immunised against that infectious disease and advise that they will not be able to undertake services during the period of the outbreak.
  • Request parent/guardians to notify the service if their child has an infectious disease.

2. Parents/Guardians shall:

  • Notify the service if their child has an infectious disease.
  • Keep their child at home if they are unwell or have an excludable infectious disease and comply with applicable minimum exclusion periods.
  • Provide accurate information regarding the immunisation status of their child/children if requested by Learning for Life.

8. Procedures When Ill Children are Sent to the Service, or Become Ill at the Service

1. To reduce the risk of spreading infection, children will not be accepted for face-to-face service provision or will be sent home if they are displaying the symptoms of:

  • Gastroenteritis;
  • Respiratory infection (more than just the common cold);
  • COVID-19;
  • Hand, foot and mouth disease (when weeping blisters are present);
  • Any of the Infectious diseases listed in the DHS School Exclusion Table (Appendix 2 in this policy); or
  • any infectious virus or disease that has been declared a pandemic or epidemic by the State or Federal Government with respect to the region in which the Client is undertaking Learning for Life’s service. In such circumstances, additional measures and restrictions on service may be implemented by Learning for Life following advice from relevant government departments in order to reduce the risk of spreading infection.

2. Parents/guardians will be requested by staff to take their child home or end the session (when within the home), if the child shows any of the symptoms of the illnesses or infectious diseases listed above.

3. Staff will record information relating to the accident/symptoms shown by the child in the accident, injury and illness book.

4. The staff will notify the Clinical Director of any illness that requires treatment by a medical practitioner or an admission to hospital.

9. Procedures When a Staff Member is Ill

1. To reduce the risk of spreading infection, staff will not work or will be sent home if they are displaying the symptoms of:

  • Gastroenteritis;
  • Respiratory infection (more than just the common cold);
  • Hand, foot and mouth disease (when weeping blisters are present);
  • Any of the Infectious diseases listed in the DHS School Exclusion Table (Appendix 2 in this policy); or
  • any infectious virus or disease that has been declared a pandemic or epidemic by the State or Federal Government with respect to the region in which the staff member conducting the service for Learning for Life is working. In such circumstances, additional measures and restrictions on service may be implemented by Learning for Life following advice from relevant government departments in order to reduce the risk of spreading infection.

2. Staff will notify a Learning for Life Office Manager as soon as possible or at least 2 hours prior to the beginning of a session.

3. Staff will provide a doctor’s certificate if more than two days off are taken in any given period or more than two single sick days per year have been taken.

10. Procedures for Administering Medicine

Learning for Life staff will not administer medicine to a child. All medicine must be administered by the parents/guardians (or in a kinder/school/childcare setting, according to the arrangements in place at that educational institution).

11. Anti Discrimination

1. No current or prospective staff member, employer, parent/guardian or child will be discriminated against or harassed on the grounds of having, or being assumed to have, an HIV or hepatitis infection.

2. Being infected with HIV is not grounds for exclusion of a child, parent/guardian, staff member or employer.

3. The board will ensure that all staff and agents (such as members of the board) understand the concepts of discrimination and harassment, and will ensure that the implementation of comprehensive grievance procedures that provide effective processes for resolving grievances, at all levels of the organisation.

12. Confidentiality and HIV/AIDS

There is no obligation, legal or otherwise for anyone to inform an employer, service provider, or service of his or her own or their child’s HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C or other blood borne virus status, consequently:

  • such information must not be disclosed without informed consent of the individual (or guardian for a person under the age of 18 years);
  • the only reason a parent would inform Learning for Life of the child’s blood-borne disease status would be for the benefit of the child;
  • any staff member or board member, in receipt of verbal or written information relating to the HIV/AIDS or blood borne disease status and condition of any child or staff member, must take all reasonable precautions to protect the child or staff member’s privacy and may only disclose the information to those other staff members who are required to know as part of their role and service provision;
  • all such information must be kept securely within the service.. Information relating to the blood borne status will be destroyed once the person leaves the employment of, or ceases to attend, the service;
  • no routine or mandatory blood borne disease testing may be carried out on service users or staff;
  • no testing may be carried out without the informed consent of the individual and provision of pre and post-test counselling, by an accredited counsellor or qualified medical practitioner; and
  • information regarding HIV/AIDS and the hepatitis status of any child, parent/guardian, or staff member will remain confidential and all reasonable steps will be taken to develop and implement systems to protect the privacy of that person.

13. Infection Control

1. Staff and volunteers have a duty of care obligation to contribute to a safe workplace as outlined in the Duty of Care and Incident Management Policy and Occupational Health and Safety

2. Under regulations the spread of infectious disease should be prevented or limited without imposing unnecessary restrictions on personal liberty and privacy. The regulations provide that a person who in the course of providing a service acquires information that a person has been, or is required to be tested for HIV, or is infected with HIV, must take all reasonable steps to develop and implement systems to protect the privacy of that person.

3. Common ways of spreading infection include:

  • Physical contact with spilt blood, faeces, vomit, saliva or other bodily fluids and substances;
  • Scratching, biting and spitting;
  • Sharing food, cups, dishes and cutlery;
  • Sharing toilet and bathroom facilities;
  • Poor hand hygiene;
  • Improperly cooked or stored food.

4. Standard precautions are recommended to ensure the safety of staff, volunteers and Clients at all times regardless of their health status and apply to the handling of:

  • Blood, including dried blood;
  • All other body substances including saliva, urine and faeces (but excluding sweat), regardless of whether they contain visible blood;
  • Broken skin; and
  • Mucous membranes (lining of nose, mouth and genitals).

5. Standard Precautions include:

  • Avoiding contact with blood, bodily fluids or other hazardous substances whenever possible;
  • Ensuring spills are cleaned promptly;
  • Using gloves, facemasks and other protective equipment as applicable;
  • Ensuring safe disposal of used protective equipment and soiled material;
  • Regular and thorough hand hygiene;
  • Regular cleaning and disinfection of toilets, sinks, washbasins, kitchen and public; and areas, surfaces, shared toys and equipment (at least once a week).

6. If any person has contact with blood or body fluids, staff shall ensure the following procedures are performed:

  • Contaminated clothing is removed;
  • If blood or body fluids get on the skin, irrespective of whether there are cuts or abrasions, the skin is washed well with soap and water;
  • If the eyes are splashed, the area is rinsed gently but thoroughly with water while the eyes are open;
  • If blood or body fluid gets in the mouth, it is spat out and the mouth is rinsed with water several times.

7. If blood or body fluids are spilt on surfaces, staff clean the spill as soon as possible using the following cleaning procedures:

  • Wearing disposable rubber gloves;
  • Wearing eye protection and a plastic apron if there is a risk of splashing;
  • Removing as much of the spill as possible with paper towels;
  • Cleaning area with warm water and detergent, using a disposable cleaning cloth or sponge;
  • Leaving the area clean and dry;
  • Disinfecting the area with a solution of household bleach, diluted according to the manufacturer’s instructions;
  • Removing and disposing of gloves, paper towels and cleaning cloth in a zip lock/sealed plastic bag (or biohazard container) after use in accordance with the provisions below;
  • Washing hands thoroughly with soap and warm water.

8. Any actual or suspected exposure of Clients, volunteers or staff to HIV, Hepatitis B or C or other blood borne infection shall be reported immediately to the Clinical Director and/or nearest emergency department.

9. Staff and the parents/guardians of Clients shall provide to the Clinical Director (or, for non-clinical staff, to their manager) information regarding any health condition that could potentially cause infection to others.

10. Learning for Life shall treat information provided with respect and confidentiality as outlined in the Confidentiality and Privacy Policy.

11. Learning for Life staff are not required to provide first aid or personal care assistance to Clients unless in an emergency.

12. Staff shall complete a Restrictive Practice Form in accordance with the Behaviour Management Policy in the case they have encountered and handled an incident, be it between Clients or involving a Client and a staff member, which may create a risk of contamination or spreading of infection, such as a biting or spitting incident and which required the use of a Restrictive Practice (as defined in the Behaviour Management Policy).

13. Staff shall complete an Incident Report Form in accordance with the Occupational Health and Safety Policy in the case they have encountered an Incident (as defined in the Occupational Health and Safety Policy).

14. Waste Management

Should staff be required to dispose of infectious or hazardous substances they are required to inform the Practice Manager immediately to determine the appropriate method of disposal in accordance with current legislation and local health district requirements. Information may be sought from the DHS and the local council.

15. Epidemic or Pandemic

In the event of a declared Epidemic or Pandemic Learning for Life will follow the advice of the relevant government and professional bodies (such as the DHS, the AHPPC and the National Health and Medical Research Council) to ensure recommended risk mitigation strategies are implemented and adhered to in the running of services. Actions will be considered, adapted and implemented as necessary according to the setting in which a Client is receiving service, the individual needs of the staff or Client and the wider community.

In addition, and without limiting the above, Learning for Life will:

  • create or update a pandemic/epidemic plan and risk assessment relevant to the circumstances at the time;
  • ensure that Clients, their parents/guardians, staff and volunteers are aware of the Pandemic or Epidemic and strive to keep Clients, staff and Volunteers informed of actions Learning for Life is taking in response to the Epidemic or Pandemic;
  • seek to identify staff or Clients who may be more vulnerable to the outbreak (so far as permitted and consistent with the Confidentiality and Privacy Policy) in order to ensure appropriate support and/or adjustments are made accordingly;
  • ensure relevant educational materials are displayed at the centre and that staff, volunteers (as relevant), Clients and their parents/guardians are aware of Epidemic or Pandemic avoid guidelines (such as in relation to hygiene, physical distancing, not attending the service when unwell, requirements for any protective equipment etc); and
  • recognise that amendments to usual staffing arrangements may need to be implemented for some or all staff (such as working remotely or permitting unpaid leave to be taken).

Annexure

Minimum period of exclusion from primary schools and children’s services for infectious diseases cases and contacts (Public Health and Wellbeing Regulations 2010, Schedule 7)

https://www2.health.vic.gov.au/public-health/infectious-diseases/school-exclusion/school-exclusion-table

Regulation 111

A person in charge of a primary school, education and care service premises or children’s services centre must not allow a child to attend the primary school, education and care service premises or children’s services centre for the period or in the circumstances:
* specified in column 3 of the Table in Schedule 7 if the person in charge has been informed that the child is infected with an infectious disease listed in column 2 of that Table; or
* specified in column 4 of the Table in Schedule 7 if the person in charge has been informed that the child has been in contact with a person who is infected with an infectious disease listed in column 2 of that Table.

Further information

Please contact the Communicable Disease Prevention and Control Section on 1300 651 160 or visit www2.health.vic.gov.au/public-health/infectious-diseases/school-exclusion