As panic grips Australians and the toilet paper crisis has seen more supermarket scraps than a Jerry Springer episode, we’ve got 4 tips that will help mitigate negative foreseeable impacts for business owners across the community sector.
Before taking you through these, I want to point out that if you’re reading this article, you’re likely operating in a system that is either fully or partially funded by the Australian Government (including the NDIS, Aged Care or individual block funding arrangements). This means that ultimately, the need for services will not actually decline – in fact, it may increase!
Don’t get excited quite yet… Whilst understanding the need for such services is expected to remain constant throughout this uncertain period – when I say ‘period’, I’m talking possibly several months – the ability to actually deliver or receive services will undeniably be impacted, although to varying degrees.
How then, can you service a market where demand hasn’t changed, rather there has been a major disruption to the usual service supply chain brought by the Coronavirus (or COVID-19)? Let’s use a residential aged care facility as an example, where elderly residents are arguably at greatest risk of death should they be exposed to the virus (compared to younger, healthier people). How does a facility not only protect its residents but manage an internal infection where the risk of several fatalities is significant?
According to an article from CNN Business: In the US City of Seattle, already hard hit by the outbreak, 60% of small businesses there are considering wage cuts and staffing cutbacks, while 35% said they may have to close. More than 80% expect the situation to get worse.
This is a scenario that many business owners are not accustomed to dealing with. The following tips may help you mitigate impacts that threaten your community service organisation.
1) Understand the threat.
It is hard to deal with any threat without understanding exactly how it might impact you. Every business will likely face a number of challenges brought about by the Coronavirus that threaten business operations, cash flow and many other areas.
This means your response needs to be based around knowing what ways your business might be impacted by them either directly (people cancelling or not booking) and indirectly (inability to purchase medical equipment due to international import restrictions).
Consider all the ways in which your business may be impacted and use reliable information sources to help determine the current situation and what is projected to happen. The Department of Health and State Government Departments are working around the clock to keep the public informed with factual information – there is also specific advice for the health and aged care sectors – see the Department of Health website.
2) Respond (don’t react).
Take appropriate measures for your business that mitigate obvious risks without becoming over-reactionary. We’ve seen how media hype can drive buyer panic in our shopping centres. In business, it’s important to stay vigilant and adopt a long-term perspective that prioritises the welfare of staff and clients along with operational viability.
Assess the different ways your business may be affected and put in place measures that help reduce the impacts or consider work-arounds for those issues. Keep in mind your Fair Work obligations as an employer when making decisions – use the Fair Work Ombudsman website for further clarification on actions you can take.
3) Go to your Quality Systems for guidance.
It’s times like this when excellent compliance practices will help you protect your business, your staff and your clients. Your policies and procedures are designed to help you keep a consistent approach when responding to such unpredictable (and unprecedented) events. This is not the time to ‘throw the book out the window’, rather, use the book to help keep your day-to-day turning as best possible while you navigate the unexpected.
While it’s absolutely imperative not to panic, it’s equally important to make sure you have a contingency plan should things not go as hoped. Having a plan can help you keep clear-headed through this uncertain time, simply because you know you have other options to act on should you need to.
For the latest Infection Control Policy and Procedure, go to amerginhub article, Guidance on preparing for and responding to Coronavirus in your business.
4) Find out what supports are available to you.
There are many support services businesses can access right now, however none more significant than the measures announced by The Australian Government who this month launched a massive $17B plan to support households, businesses and jobs.
Read our latest amerginhub article, Coronavirus and the impacts on your business for more information on what assistance packages the Australian Government is making available. Also be aware the Government has promised more assistance packages in the coming weeks!
We are, without a doubt, in uncharted territory. Never before have we as a country had to face such an enormous and potentially catastrophic health and economic emergency that continues to test us on many levels.
From purely a business perspective, it’s important to maintain a strategic and measured approach to navigate through. Consider your risk, look to your systems, ask for help and most importantly, try to plan for a range of scenarios. You’ll then be in the best possible position to get you through to the other side.
FREE Provider Forum
If you have any questions, jump on the FREE Everyday Practice forum – Coronavirus (COVID-19) and NDIS Service Delivery – the moderators are able to help clarify any questions you might have about providing NDIS supports and services to NDIS Participants during the Coronavirus pandemic.
Have more questions or need dedicated business support from our team?
Amergin is committed to helping providers get through this difficult period.To do this, we have put together a Business Response Team who can help you address specific business issues you might be experiencing now, or anticipate happening in the coming weeks as a result of the pandemic. This might include:
- Enactment of remote service delivery
- Clinical response
- Anything else you might need