Preparing for and managing a COVID-19 outbreak in Victoria and New South Wales
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Victoria and New South Wales, this is a reminder of the guidance available to assist you to prepare for, respond to, and manage an outbreak involving the people with disability you support and/or your workers.
· Knowing how to respond if NDIS participants you support and/or your workers were exposed to or infected with COVID-19 is vital.
· The Australian Government has announced temporary changes to funding arrangements for accessing PPE, and there is guidance, including a video, available on when and how to use it.
· The Victorian and NSW public health units have dedicated information for providers and workers in the disability sector.
· Encourage any members of your workforce who haven’t already done so, to complete the Australian Government Department of Health’s ‘Infection prevention and control’ training module.
· If you, your workers or the people you support experience even mild symptoms, arrange a COVID-19 test immediately and self-isolate until you receive the results.
Prepare for, respond to, and manage a COVID-19 outbreak
Our fact sheet, COVID-19 outbreak preparedness, prevention and management, contains practical guidance to support you to:
· ensure your workers take reasonable precautions to protect people with disability and themselves
· prepare for an outbreak of COVID-19
· respond to suspected or confirmed cases in different types of service settings
· manage an outbreak of COVID-19.
The fact sheet is for all registered providers of NDIS supports and services, including those providing in home supports, as well as disability accommodation settings.
The situation in Victoria is driven by high rates of community transmission. It is important that providers consider how they deploy their staff in a manner that would reduce the risk of infection both to NDIS participants and other workers. This could include limiting the NDIS participants that a worker supports, or assigning workers to particular outlets and no others.
Government announcements about PPE
The Minister for the NDIS, Stuart Robert, has announced temporary changes to funding arrangements to allow NDIS participants, workers and providers in Victoria and New South Wales to claim the cost of PPE, including masks.
From 29 July 2020, these temporary measures allow:
· NDIS participants in Victoria and New South Wales who rely on face-to-face supports and assistance with their daily living to claim on the cost of PPE for when a worker is with them.
· NDIS providers in Victoria and New South Wales to claim for the cost of PPE, to enable workers to continue to deliver essential disability supports to participants
· Supported Independent Living (SIL) providers to claim for higher intensity supports to cover situations where there a participant potentially has COVID-19 and is required to self-isolate or quarantine.
Guidance on using PPE
Our fact sheet, Information for providers on the use of personal protective equipment, contains information about when PPE should be used, and how to access it.
Further, we remind you to watch and share with your workers the Australian Government Department of Health’s video, Coronavirus (COVID-19): Wearing personal protective equipment for disability workers.
The video demonstrates how to put on and remove PPE correctly, and reminds workers to consider the effect that wearing PPE will have on the person with disability you support. As you should when there is any change to their supports and services, take the time to explain to the person and their family why you are using PPE, and reassure them it is safe for them to see you.
Get current advice from your state’s public health unit
· Victoria: The DHHS website has updated information for the disability sector, in particular the COVID-19 Plan for the disability services sector. This plan is being updated regularly, so please view the online version, which contains advice about how to continue providing essential services to people with disability during this critical stage of the pandemic.
· NSW: NSW Health also has a webpage with information for disability support providers, which contains current recommendations about wearing PPE, and guidance for continuing to support people with disability.
If any member of your workforce has not already completed the 30-minute free online training module, Infection prevention and control for COVID-19, please encourage them to do this.
Developed by the Australian Government Department of Health, the module explains how COVID-19 is spread, how to protect yourself and the people you support, and what to do if symptoms develop.
If you have any technical questions about the training portal, email email@example.com
General reminder about testing and self-isolation
If you, your workers or the people you support experience even the mildest symptoms, arrange to get a COVID-19 test immediately. After the test, self-isolate at home until you receive the test result.
Avoiding contact with other people from the time of symptom onset until you receive the test result is critical to helping limit the spread. Find information on getting a COVID-19 test in Victoria and in New South Wales.
Further information, alerts and resources
The Coronavirus (COVID-19) information webpage on the NDIS Commission website contains links to updates, training, alerts and other resources.
· Call: 1800 035 544 (free call from landlines). Our contact centre is open 9.00am to 4.30pm in the NT, 9.00am to 5.00pm in the ACT, NSW, QLD, SA, TAS and VIC Monday to Friday, excluding public holidays.
· Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
· Website: www.ndiscommission.gov.au
Links to previous COVID-19 provider alerts
· 20 July 2020: NSW Health guidance for all residential disability outlets
· 13 July 2020: Reminder of COVID-19 reporting obligations
· 27 May 2020: Guidance from the Australian Government Department of Health
· 7 May 2020: Advice for people with disability
· 28 April 2020: FAQs for all stakeholders and information for NDIS participants
· 20 April 2020: Management and Operational Plan for People with Disability
· 9 April 2020: Further assistance for organisations, people and households
· 9 April 2020: April 2020 Provider Newsletter (COVID-19)
· 3 April 2020: Adjusting supports and reducing infection risk
· 2 April 2020: Practice Alert: Influenza (flu) vaccine from mid-April 2020
· 31 March 2020: Supporting providers to respond
· 26 March 2020: Assistance for organisations
· 24 March 2020: Information for support workers and access to PPE
· 19 March 2020: Business continuity planning
· 17 March 2020: Online training module for support workers
· 9 March 2020: Provider obligations and COVID-19 health information
· 7 February 2020: Information about the novel coronavirus outbreak