As an essential service, we are still open at this time, providing a safe space for people with a disability. Please see the below communications regarding the changing nature of our service delivery. This page will continue to be updated with any further communications. Please contact us via email or phone, if you have any further questions or would like to discuss your support.

Friday 27 March – Studio ARTES Online

Dear members and families,

We are beginning to get ready to move some of our session online! This means that you will be able to use your phone, tablet, or computer that has a camera, to join an online video chat with Studio ARTES staff and other members. We will be able to dance, create art, record podcasts, and enjoy many other activities together again, all while staying safe at home.

At this stage, this is in addition to our current sessions across our Hornsby, Inner West and Crows Nest locations, as well as in home support.

We will be using a program called Zoom to meet with you online. If you have not used Zoom before, you will need to download it on whichever phone, tablet or computer you would like to use.

If you would like to use a phone or tablet to join us online, you will need to:

  1. Open your App store or Google Play store.
  2. Press search
  3. Type in ZOOM Cloud Meetings
  4. Press Get or Install and download the app.

If you would like to use a phone or tablet to join us online, you will need to:

  1. Open an internet page.
  2. Copy and paste this link into the address bar, OR press on it from here https://zoom.us/download 
  3. Press the DOWNLOAD button for Zoom Client for Meetings.

Once the meetings are scheduled you will get an invite to a meeting either in your email or as an SMS. All you need to do is to click on the link you will then be taken to the meeting.

When you join the meeting, a small window will pop up asking you how you want to use audio. Make sure that you use the option to “Use computer Audio” or device audio, otherwise your microphone will not work.

If you are with a friend who would like to join the same meeting, make sure you are in different rooms, or share the same phone, tablet or computer. Otherwise, you may hear some very bad echo and squealing.

Zoom have a number of videos that you can watch if you need help. You can get to these by pressing  https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/206618765-Zoom-Video-Tutorials

The two you should look at are:

  • Sign Up and Download Meeting client.    (But note you can download the meeting client without signing up, the basic level of sign up is free if you want to)
  • Joining a Meeting

If you are feeling like trying something a little tricky, there is even a video about Virtual Backgrounds, so you can appear to be away at some beautiful place and it hides the room behind you!

If you have any problems downloading Zoom or getting started, please contact:

StudioA members should contact Gabrielle Mordy or Chris Haysom

Inner West members should contact Jess Raymond

Studio ARTES Hornsby people should contact Simon Bryan simon.bryan@studioartes.org.au

We look forward to seeing you online soon!

Thursday 26 March

In Studios

We are closely following the recommendations of government and practising the public social distancing measures the best we can in a care environment where contact with people is the norm.   We are continuing to regular clean and disinfect the spaces, as well as encouraging handwashing and use of sanitiser regularly.  Temp checks on arrival in studios. Staff of Studio ARTES have been split between sites to ensure that if there is transmission, it will not move between sites.  We are regularly reminding members to keep further apart if they start to encroach on space.   

With the likely scenario of Stage 3 shutdowns in NSW, we know that as a provider of supports, we will continue to support you as you require it, whether it means even smaller groups or 1on1.    We know however, that at some stage we may need to shut physical studios for a time, whether it be government led, or due to a notification.  We will continue to prepare for both scenarios.  We are waiting as patiently as we can for the NDIA to give direction on any possible government shutdown, and what it means for numbers we can support at any one time.   With less members and programs, we are engaging less staff.  We are also trying to help staff we aren’t utilising to find other options.  

At Inner West, services have already moved off site.  Crow’s Nest program is small and contained and starting to move into 1on1 scenarios.  Hornsby numbers are low, with approx. 20 people here per day.  Programs at Hornsby look more like special week! Exercise, dance and any other physical activity are being done either in the entry area or in a local park.  The guys (members and staff) have really enjoyed calling up their friends via Facebook messenger, Skype etc.

At Home

If you have home services, you may be asked for verbal confirmation by staff of shifts, as we move to reduce contact with paperwork etc.   Please ensure that the environment they are working in is clean and can be regularly disinfected, as we need to keep both you and them safe.  If you need to cancel the shift, and you have their details, you can also contact them directly as well as you.   Note that we will fill these shifts where possible, however it does rely on having staff available, and able to travel. We have attached an information sheet for you to inform you of what our expectations of staff are and how they will work with you which includes staff looking out for and discussing signs of cold and flu symptoms If you are unable to use your home, we will talk to you about possible available spaces and other ideas. We will use our contact with you as notification of changes.  Please be patient with us as we get into this new system of working.  If you have had contact with anyone who has travelled from overseas in the 14 days previous to your support, or have been identified as a contact of a confirmed case, please cancel your shifts. 

What the NDIA have said

The NDIA is regularly updating information for participants and providers.  The most recent update announced is their decision to introduce new measures to ensure essential supports are in place through the COVID-19 outbreak. Including;


• NDIS plans to be extended by up to 24 months, to ensure continuity of support and increase capacity of NDIA staff to focus on urgent and required changes to plans. • Face to face planning moved to telephone meetings where possible.
• Action plan to ensure NDIS clients and their families continue to receive the essential disability supports they need.  This includes the ability to use what funds you have in your plan flexibly.
• Proactive outreach to high-risk clients and share data with states and territories to ensure continuity of supports.
• Financial assistance to providers to support retention of workers including advance payments (for NDIS managed participant claims only, that will be drawn down on in future claims), 10 per cent COVID-19 loading on some supports (we do not know what they are yet) and changes to cancellation policies.

The information and Q&A can be found here.   https://www.ndis.gov.au/understanding/ndis-and-other-government-services/ndis-and-disaster-response#latest     https://www.ndis.gov.au/understanding/ndis-and-other-government-services/ndis-and-disaster-response#faq

Also, I have personally contacted the Every Australian Counts Campaign and asked the question & will let you know if I get an answer “I know this was announced by the agency but what if someone uses up their money early in the plan because they have to switch to 1on1 support through this period. In that case, the plan hasnt ended but has been used up quicker than normal? • NDIS plans to be extended by up to 24 months, to ensure continuity of support and increase capacity of NDIA staff to focus on urgent and required changes to plans.”

What if there is a notified case?  

As previously notified, we would follow NSW Healths direction to the letter.  Whether it be a member or staff member, we would follow their guidelines in ensuring you are contacted if you need to self-isolate.  We are unsure whether Health would do this or whether we do, but rest assured we will work with them to work with you.

We would also follow directions of NSW Health as to whether the persons contacts meant that a site requires a shutdown, for a period of time after a deep clean has been affected and determined by them.  If the staff member you have been working with has been notified to self-isolate, we will contact you to cancel them and relay Health NSW recommendations to you.

If the person we have been notified about has not had contact with you, you can to continue to receive services from staff that have also not been identified as a contact.  If we are required to shutdown under government direction, please note that we will work with you if you do not have a home environment that is suitable for support to identify an option for you.   

That’s all for now.  Keep safe and healthy,

Kind regards

Deb Sazdanoff

CEO

Studio ARTES

Wednesday 25 March – Hornsby site only

Hornsby studio is operating at a heavily reduced numbers ensuring we are balancing the public social distancing measures and rules with the need for support as an essential services provider of disability support. We will continue to implement infection control measures, and are closely monitoring and discouraging touching, and close contact.

Until we are notified otherwise, we will continue to open the studio for these smaller numbers if you need it. To ensure space, we are also utilising the car park/woodwork area, the local park, and we also have access to another space in Hornsby. If you as a parent or carer, work in essential services, let us know so we can prioritise the support you need, especially in the case of closing centres when you still need to work.

We are continuing to work on deploying staff into your homes/local community as you request it. Please bear with us as we work through this jigsaw puzzle. As we do this, we will be sending out guidelines for both staff and families. Some feedback from you is concerns around funding when you normally have group funding. And that is fair enough! We tested this with Liz calling the Agency and the response from them was quite generic (as per their website), we have asked via our peak body and Every Australian Counts for that question to be answered – I only have group based funding, but I need 1on1 support for this period. What can I do?’ Meanwhile, call them and ask them the same question!

Keep an eye on the Facebook members page for activities that do not relate to COVID -19 to keep connected with your friends.

We are awaiting information from the NDIA on the prepayment package that they are offering providers to keep them in business. When it arrives, we will look at it and see how best to maintain a staffing level of our PPT who can spend time engaging with you via phone or video conference as we move into online learning. You may get a call in the next couple of days for a check-in!

All information from previous emails is still active. If you meet any of the criteria that is current, stay at home. If you show any symptoms of colds or flus, stay at home.

Please ensure you follow the guidelines that have been set by government, and keep yourself safe.

Stay well.

Kind regards,

Deb Sazdanoff
CEO
Studio ARTES

Sunday 22 March

Dear members and families,

This email is to let you know that we are continuing to work hard to ensure that we continue to provide services to you that you need. They may look a lot different to what you normally see from us.

Over coming days you will receive more updates from me and our studio managers that are specific to the studio you usually attend, as group emails like this, or individually. Gab, Mary and Jess are all working hard to make sure we do what we do best – support you to live your best life.

Our priorities are clear;

  • Support our members the best we can and in the safest way we can
  • Support our staff, a number of who are casual or part time in the best and safest way we can
  • Focus on our core value of inclusion – and how we can make that happen in this new reality.
  • Ensure that the organisation is best placed to support through this time, and to make sure we can come out at the other end strong and ready to scale up to normal functions and the amazing services we provide.

I think we all thought we would have more time than we do, but things have scaled up significantly. Over the past week and a half we have been contacting you individually to ask what sort of support you need as NSW moves through the different stages of shutdown. Over the coming days, Studio ARTES continue to work to talk to each of you about what you need. If you haven’t heard from us, call us or email us.

This includes the option for in home support (going for walks, activities in your home or nearby, fitness in the back yard or with a mate in the park, dance, doing your shopping, going for a long drive with the windows down, art in your local parks, helping with online learning, or even dialling in to teach you from afar). If very small groups of friends are viable, wanted and allowed, we will do them.

We have ramped up the implementation of various online or dial in options that we were working on, with a focus on inclusion, but in a different way. The staff are focused on making sure you are not alone through this, and are nearly ready to test it with some people who would normally attend a group but don’t want (or cant afford) individual support, or want both. Look out for links to online sessions, group video calls between members and staff and other options.

As many of you would know, NSW government announced a range of measures this afternoon that are a move towards shutting down non essential services. Disability services are considered by government as an essential service, alongside health services, and childcare services, supermarkets, chemists and petrol stations, amongst others.

Yesterday the federal government announced a range of measures to support businesses and people out of work, as well as the NDIA announcing a range of supports for both participants and providers. A stark reality is that unlike other essential services, we don’t continue to get paid as services aren’t provided. The NDIA are working to see what can happen in this space and as they announce further detail, we will look at what that means for us all. This is to ensure that YOU get the support you need when you need it through these ever changing times. The NDIA need to ensure that you can access the funds you need for support should the funding you have isn’t enough.

This is a confusing and volatile time for everyone, but rest assured that we will be doing everything we can to support you, and work to reduce the pressure of isolation. Please be patient with us and support us to support you. We will make mistakes but we will fix them. Our amazing staff, every single one of them, are going through the same personal challenges and concerns that everyone else is, but are focused on making sure that you all get what you need. When you see or speak to them, please tell them how great they are.

Lastly, look after your mental health. I know; as the CEO of an amazing organisation that is heading into its toughest challenge yet, as the boss of seriously talented people who are so passionate about you guys, and the leader of an amazing community of members & families, and as a mum, wife and daughter – we are all anxious, worried about our health, our finances, and the people around us, and what is coming next. Take the time to switch off from social media, the news and everything that is happening around us, and try to do something for yourself every day and focus on it. Keep creating, remember to dance, sing, make art, and connect.

Kind regards,

Deb Sazdanoff
CEO
Studio ARTES

Monday 16 March

Dear members and families,

This email is to ensure we are communicating about the impact of the virus on you and our organisation. As you would be aware, COVID-19 continues to spread and a pandemic has now been declared. Over the past weeks, we have actively been deploying strategies to respond as it continues to unfold. This has included actions on our sites through good hygiene facilities, infection control information and practices, and communications to keep members, families, staff and other stakeholders updated and as safe as possible.

We are confident we are doing the best we can on our sites to minimise risk of the virus coming in, and the virus spreading. But we also know that should the government position change that we need to adapt and shift to ensure continuity of support to you and to our staff. Over coming weeks our planning will include conversations with you about how to best tailor the support for you that we provide into other settings, such as community or in home settings should centre based activities not be viable. This is part of our pandemic planning we are undertaking to ensure the least disruption to your services for you. If you are thinking of alternative options for you or your family member, please make contact with us so we can make this happen. This could be staff support in home individually, with friends, or at other places.

Being part of the care industry we know it isn’t as simple as public social distancing measures. We are staying on top of advice for the care industry as well as general government updates. Our peak body, as well as peak bodies for people with disability, are working to ensure that the government, including the NDIA, are focused on ensuring that people with disability and their families are supported and safe, and providers are supported through this unprecedented situation.

In previous communications, we have updated you on our infection control procedures. This includes retraining of staff, training of members, increased handwashing and actively discouraging face touching as well as physical touching such as handshakes, hugging etc. In each group we have staff whose focus for the sessions is on this. We will send anyone home who arrives with cold or flu symptoms, and ask for those who have them to get checked by a doctor before returning, both members and staff. Sites have all increased cleaning practices, and in addition for Inner West, the SCC have notified that they have increased their infection control measures on the site. At Hornsby, we have introduced this week a cleaner coming to the studio over the lunch period to clean and disinfect common areas in addition to what we are already doing. In addition to these measures, we have agreed today to begin temperature checks on arrival at the studios.

As government position updates, so will we. As of today this includes;

  • Anyone flying in from overseas are required to self-isolate for 14 days. For Studio ARTES, this means staff and members.
  • Large gatherings of over 500 people will be cancelled.
  • Previous information provided by government in regards to contact with people who have been diagnosed or travelled from destinations listed by government continue to apply.

In light of this, we are looking at our group events and events to determine if they need to be changed or postponed. To date;

  • We are cancelling the opening of our Art Exhibition at Wallarobba on the 15 April. We feel it is smarter due to the large numbers that usually attend to do this, and people at this stage will be able to continue to check out the exhibition during the days it is open.
  • We will be postponing the dance party on 9 April held at Hornsby studio. The larger numbers of this event have been taken into consideration.
  • Group events to Biennale will be reconsidered and other options looked at. We will keep group events to manageably small numbers and consider what is planned.

Kind regards,

Deb Sazdanoff
CEO
Studio ARTES