South Australian Response to Facilitate Isolation Requirements in Aboriginal Homeless Substance Dependent People

Author: Bronwyn Gordon Victoria Cock Carolyn Edmonds Thelma Muchenje Marina Bowshall Mark Thompson Madeline Bartolic

Theme: Models of Care Year: 2022

From November 2021 South Australia experienced a rise in COVID positive cases. As per the South
Australian Emergency Management Act 2004 declaration COVID positive individuals are directed to
isolate for 10 days. On the 1 January 2022 it was requested that Drug and Alcohol Services of South
Australia (DASSA) provide a quarantine facility to safely isolate COVID positive Aboriginal people who
were homeless and had identified substance related issues.
Description of model of care/intervention:
In 4 days the DASSA Inpatient Withdrawal Unit was converted to a COVID isolation facility that was
culturally appropriate for Aboriginal people. Consultation with a variety of Aboriginal groups
occurred and culturally safe aspects of the facility were initiated including: a fire pit on site for a
“comfort fire”; the provision of culturally appropriate food (including 40 kg of kangaroo tails for
cooking and consumption twice weekly); the recognition of the importance of family and community
by facilitating movement and gatherings within the unit and access to family via web based
platforms; cultural diversionary activities; and offering either substance withdrawal management or
a managed alcohol program (MAP).
70 COVID + clients were admitted to the facility over 10 weeks. 65 identified as alcohol dependent.
60 successfully completed their mandated isolation requirements. 9 were transferred to COVID
medical-management hotels. 7 were transferred to acute hospital with 6 returning to the DASSA
COVID facility to complete their isolation. No clients absconded from the facility. A managed alcohol
program was implemented with 53 clients successfully managed utilizing the MAP. Multiple medical
co-morbidities were screened for and treated during the quarantine period.
Conclusion and next steps:
This model of care illustrates the value of a culturally safe environment coupled with a MAP and not
enforced abstinence to facilitate successful isolation in relation to COVID.
Disclosure of Interest Statement:
Nothing to disclose.

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