Information for service providers
NDIS and disability services
The Queensland Government Department of Health and the Department of Communities, Disability Services and Seniors has released new information on supporting people with disability through the COVID-19 pandemic. The fact sheet Supporting people with disability through the COVID-19 pandemic provides guidance to disability service providers (including NDIS registered providers) and their employees, and carers and volunteers providing support to persons with disability.
The Disability Accommodation Services Direction was updated on 4 October 2020 to include additional guidance.
Operators of shared disability accommodation services should ensure physical distancing and risk mitigation measures are in place at a service to the extent practicable, including:
- providing appropriate signage that clearly states physical distancing and appropriate hygiene requirements must be followed in a service;
- ensuring cleaning and sanitising of all surfaces, doors and high traffic areas in shared disability accommodation services;
- structuring staff rosters in a way which minimises staff movements between multiple care facilities wherever possible;
- where staff movements can’t be avoided, require staff to use personal protective equipment (PPE) in accordance current health advice;
- providing additional hand sanitising stations for residents, employees, contractors and visitors to encourage use;
- putting in place procedures to closely monitor the health of all employees, with at least daily reporting or check-ins by supervisors;
- ensuring tables and seating in common areas of shared disability accommodation services should be managed to provide appropriate physical distancing;
- ensure staff are trained and procedures in place to keep family and support people informed where a resident becomes unwell or there is a case identified in the service;
- encouraging any person entering the service to have an up-to-date vaccination against influenza, if the vaccination is available to the person;
- encouraging residents to continue essential community access but exercise appropriate caution when accessing the community, particularly in restricted areas. For example, considering if there are other ways to achieve access to services, maintain physical distancing or wearing a mask where physical distancing is not able to be observed.
Updates for Queensland disability providers
NDS invites Disability Service Providers to hear directly from leading professionals from Queensland Health, the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission and peak bodies regarding the evolving pandemic requirements for this sector. Find out more and register.
Temporary changes to PPE under NDIS
In response to the Queensland Disability Accommodation Services Direction, changes have been announced to the NDIS that extend the temporary PPE measures already in place in Victoria and New South Wales to Queensland. The temporary changes will apply in restricted areas of Queensland and allow:
- NDIS participants to claim the cost of personal protective equipment (PPE), including masks, for use when a worker is with them
- NDIS providers to directly claim the costs of PPE for workers from the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA).
NDIS participants in restricted areas of Queensland who rely on face-to-face supports and assistance with their daily living will be able to use an existing support item (Low-Cost Disability-Related Health Consumables) to claim on the cost of PPE for their own use at times their worker is with them.
The changes will also enable providers in restricted areas of Queensland to claim an allowance of $1.70 per hour of support delivered in the Activities of Daily Life Support Category, to cover the cost of PPE for workers, directly from the NDIA. This will ensure participant plan funds are not impacted by the use of PPE by their providers and workers.
Providers will be able to claim for costs that they have incurred for delivering daily living supports since the new Disability Accommodation Services Public Health Direction came into effect at 8:00am on 22 August 2020.
The Australian Government Department of Health’s video, Coronavirus (COVID-19): Wearing personal protective equipment for disability workers, explains how and when disability support workers should use PPE.
The NDIS Commission has released a fact sheet How NDIS participants can expect their providers to prepare for a COVID-19 outbreak in a residential setting
In October 2020, the Commonwealth Government announced that temporary measures introduced to ensure participants continue to access their essential disability supports during the COVID-19 pandemic will be extended.
Temporary measures that will be extended nationally until February 2021 include:
- eligible NDIS participants can use plan funding to purchase low cost Assistive Technology; including smart devices (up to $1,500);
- greater plan flexibility to ensure access to supports;
- deep cleaning of residences in the event a support worker returns a positive COVID-19 test;
- additional support, including a deep cleaning service, for participants who test positive for COVID-19 or who are required to isolate who live in a Support Independent Living (SIL) setting.
In states most affected by COVID-19 outbreaks, funding of personal protective equipment (PPE) for participants (up to $50 a week) and workers will also continue, with the ability to claim PPE in Victoria until at least the end of November and in New South Wales until the end of October.
To ensure all eligible Australians continue to be able to apply for access to the NDIS, downloadable Access Request and Supporting Evidence Forms are now available on the NDIS website.
The number of face-to-face meetings with NDIS participants is being reduced in line with the Australian Government’s advice in the coronavirus (COVID-19) national health response plan. However, face-to-face services are still available.
Easy read information
NDIA has published Easy Read information relating to the Coronavirus (COVID-19).
The Council for Intellectual Disability has developed easy read health information including a guide on viruses and staying healthy, which may be helpful to share with participants. Similarly, Access Easy English offers a wide range of easy read resources.
Planning tools for people with disability
The Queenslanders with Disability Network, working with the University of Sydney and Queensland Government, has developed practical tools and information to help people with disability develop their own Person-Centred Emergency Preparedness plans for dealing with COVID-19.
Translated COVID-19 resources
COVID-19 information – multilingual resources are useful for anyone supporting people from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse backgrounds.
Queenslanders with Disability Network (QDN) resources
Queenslanders with Disability Network (QDN) are continuously updating their Information about Coronavirus (COVID-19) page.
Disability Gateway service
The Disability Gateway provides information and referrals for people with disability who need help because of coronavirus (COVID-19).
The Helpline can help families, carers and support workers, too. The Disability Gateway is free, private and fact-checked.
You can contact the Helpline in the following ways:
- Phone (free call): 1800 643 787
- If you are deaf, or have a hearing or speech impairment, you can also call the National Relay Service on 133 677
- If you require support in another language, you can use the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS National) free of charge by:
calling the Disability Information Helpline on 1800 643 787 and asking for an interpreter, or
- calling TIS on 131 450 and ask to be connected to the Disability Information Helpline on 1800 643 787.
- To chat online, click on the weekday live chat link, then on the button in the bottom right corner.
The Disability Gateway is available Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm (AEST). It is not available on national public holidays.
When you call the Helpline, you will speak to a person who will:
- Listen carefully to you.
- Use their connections to find things out, check the facts, and get information for you.
- Transfer you to services that can help you.
- Transfer you to a phone counsellor for emotional support, if you would like.
- Give you clear and accessible information.
The Disability Gateway is funded by the Australian Government. Visit the website.