pilot program finds 60% of patients prevented from self-isolating

Released on 16th September 2020

A program assessing COVID-positive patients’ capacity to self-isolate will be rolled out statewide after a successful pilot program in Melbourne’s north and west suburbs revealed startling statistics around social factors that can prevent people from quarantining. 

cohealth has revealed that 58 per cent of the 1,263 people referred through the pilot program required social and welfare support (e.g. financial, food packages, housing, drug and alcohol support) in order to be able to safely self-isolate, debunking a misconception that people are deliberately disregarding health directions. 

cohealth CE, Nicole Bartholomeusz, says that a personalised ‘self-isolation plan’ must be implemented for every COVID positive person to reduce virus transmission and ensure the state emerges fully from lockdown. 

“It’s the missing piece of the puzzle. There’s been a lot of focus on encouraging people to get tested, and issuing strict quarantining directions for those who are positive.  

“But we now know that we also need to ensure everyone is able to comply with the directionsMany don’t need support – they’re well-resourced people with friends and family. But not everyone has the same social supports ,” said Ms Bartholomeusz. 

“The only way we are going to be able to fully transition out of COVID is if we address the social inequities that prevent people from self-isolating. Whether it be not having the financial means, the mental capacity, the social network.  

“Rather than ask ‘Why are they disregarding the rules?’, this model asks ‘what will help you to comply with the rules?  The need for this service is an important learning to share with other states and territories who are trying to prevent outbreaks. 

Caring obligations, insecure housing, a lack of internet to enable online grocery shopping, social isolation, poor language literacy and the threat of job loss are just some of the social risk factors that cohealth identified among COVID-positive individuals during the 5-week pilot. 

The cohealth social risk assessment uses an indepth set of questions including ‘do you have enough money to pay the rent this month?’, ‘do you have someone who can bring your food?’, ‘do you have reliable internet?’, and ‘is it safe for you to remain in your home?’ to establish what supports each person needs to quarantine after a positive diagnosis. 

The cohealth pilot program has been operating 7-days per week since early August from a control centre in Footscray with a team of 40 GPs and nurses. 

— Ends — 

More information:  Lanie Harris 0418 552 377  lanie.harris@cohealth.org.au

More on cohealth: 

cohealth is a Victorian not-for-profit community health organisation that strives to improve health and wellbeing for all. It provides universal access to services as well as targeted programs and assertive models to address the health disparities experienced by disadvantaged groups. cohealth offers a broad range of high quality, integrated health and support services, including medical oral, pharmacy, mental health and drug and alcohol services.  

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