- Providers are expected to continue delivering supports to NDIS participants that meet the immediate needs of participants.
- Providers are required to notify the NDIS Commission if:
- A support worker or NDIS participant is confirmed to have COVID-19.
- There are changes to the scale of their operations.
- There are any other changes to their services related to COVID-19.
- Refer to the NDIS Practice Standards and Quality Indicators to ensure you are meeting your obligations.
- Click here to complete the Notification of event – COVID-19 (registered provider) form on the NDIS Commission’s website, or call 1800 035 544.
- Please click here for information on the Incident Action Plan for COVID-19 Management in Disability Residential Group Homes.
- Please click here for information on Preventing a COVID-19 Outbreak in Group Residential Settings and PPE Advice.
- Please click here for information on Preventing a COVID-19 Outbreak While Attending Client Homes and PPE Advice.
- Please click here for information on identifying a COVID-19 outbreak.
- Please click here for information on caring for a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 case.
REOPENING OF DISABILITY DAY PROGRAMS
From Monday 11 October 2021, day programs can recommence in line with Public Health Orders.
All those attending a day program (including staff) should be fully vaccinated. Some activities may not be possible for unvaccinated staff and clients attending day programs.
Where participants are not fully vaccinated, providers are encouraged to continue to provide flexible options (including online service delivery, individual activities, and avoiding group interactions unless the participants are from the same household).
- Indoors: Up to 10 participants (not including staff) may participate in an indoor setting. The indoor venue must comply with the 4 square metre rule.
- Masks are required for participants and staff in all indoor settings.
- Outdoors: Up to 30 participants (including staff) are permitted in outdoor settings.
- Masks are no longer required in outdoor settings.
- Disability Service Providers are required to have COVID-19 safety plans in place.
- Staff and participants should not attend a day program if they have any COVID-like symptoms.
- Rules for day programs and other venues will continue to be eased over the coming weeks based on community vaccination rates, including vaccination of people with a disability and those who work in the sector.
- You can help disability services return to normal by getting vaccinated if you haven’t already, and by encouraging those around you to get vaccinated.
- Australian Disability Enterprises (ADEs) should ensure that they keep up to date with the latest Public Health Orders, including rules applying to the movement of workers.
Two people per day are permitted to visit a resident of a disability care facility as long as:
- They are aged 12 years or over.
- They have received their second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine 14 days prior to their visit.
Both visitors and staff may not enter a disability care facility if:
- They have been at any ‘close’, ‘casual’ or ‘monitor for symptoms’ locations in NSW, Victoria, Queensland, the ACT, or New Zealand.
- Have any COVID-19 symptoms.
- Have been identified as a close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 and are within their isolation period.
- Live in a household with someone who is currently self-isolating.
- Are awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test.
- Please click here to read the exceptional circumstances for visiting a Residential Disability Care Facility.
Fully vaccinated residents are allowed to leave the facility for the following reasons:
- Recreational activities.
- To attend small family gatherings (provided they adhere to the restrictions within the Public Health (COVID-19 General) Order 2021).
Residents must wear a mask at indoor venues and when on public transport.
All facilities must ensure that residents are provided with appropriate PPE and infection control advice if they plan on leaving the facility. If a person cannot wear a face mask because of a disability, physical or mental health illness, or condition, they must carry either:
- A medical certificate or letter signed by a registered health practitioner (such as a doctor) or a registered NDIS provider.
- A statutory declaration.
Disability workers who live or work in the following LGAs must not enter their workplace without receiving at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccination by Monday 30 August 2021:
- Georges River;
- Strathfield; and
- Some suburbs of Penrith, including:
- Caddens, Claremont Meadows, Colyton, Erskine Park, Kemps Creek, Kings Creek, Kingswood, Mount Vernon, North St Marys, Orchard Hills, Oxley Park, St Clair, and St Marys.
Only those who have been issued a medical contraindication certificate are exempt from this requirement.
- Their employer.
- The occupier of their place of work.
- A police officer.
- An authorised officer.
- All staff in NSW are required to wear surgical masks.
- See here for reasons that masks may be removed.
SUPPORTS FOR DISABILITY SERVICE PROVIDERS
CLINICAL FIRST RESPONSE SERVICE
- Until Friday 31 December 2021, the clinical response service has been made available to SIL providers to respond to critical COVID-19 incidents.
- In the case of a positive COVID-19 diagnosis or outbreak in residential disability accommodation, this service may include:
- Emergency intervention.
- Clinical support.
- Infection control.
- Providers must notify the NDIS National Quality and Safeguards Commission if they become aware of significant impacts on service or support continuity.
- To access this service, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
ASSISTANCE FOR PROVIDERS HELPING NDIS PARTICIPANTS TO ACCESS THE COVID-19 VACCINATION
- The NDIS is providing temporary support to assist NDIS participants in supported independent living (SIL) to access the COVID-19 vaccination.
- From 26 May 2021, SIL providers who support NDIS participants to attend an offsite location to receive COVID-19 vaccinations can receive a one-off payment.
- The payment cannot be claimed from participant NDIS funds. Providers can claim the $150 payment by invoicing the NDIA.
- Providers must organise the best approach for participants to be vaccinated offsite, which may involve:
- administration to arrange vaccination appointments; and
- transportation both to and from the vaccination site in a COVID-safe manner (including having the appropriate staff remain with the participant during the waiting time after the vaccination).
- Click here for more information on how to claim this payment.
PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT (PPE) FOR SUPPORT WORKERS
- From 28 June 2021, NDIS providers across Australia can claim up to $27 per participant, per worker, per day for personal protective equipment (PPE)for support workers from certain participant plans when delivering assistance with daily life.
- Providers can only claim the costs that were actually incurred and must have the agreement of the participant.
- From 26 June 2021, eligible providers in NSW can claim the cost of PPE for support workers directly from the NDIA.
- Click here to see eligibility criteria and how to make a claim.
CLEANING SERVICES AND HIGHER INTENSITY SUPPORT
- Supports are available for SIL providers who support participants that:
- have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or are an identified COVID-19 close contact and are required to self-isolate or quarantine; and/or
- are in isolation or quarantine while awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test or because of measures taken by Government/medical authorities in response to COVID-19.
- The 2 support items are:
- Up to $300 for one-off cleaning services.
- Up to $1200 per participant, per day for additional supports for SIL participants required to self-isolate.
- From 17 August 2021, providers can claim COVID-19 SIL Additional Supports per participant, per day for each eligible participant.
- Click here for more information on this payment.
COVID-19 LOADING PAYMENT FOR ELIGIBLE NSW PROVIDERS
- On 17 August 2021, the Minister for the NDIS Linda Reynolds announced that the NDIA will make a 10% loading payment to registered providers who:
- Deliver Assistance with Daily Life supports to NDIA and plan-managed participants living in local government areas with mandatory worker testing.
- Are registered to deliver supports in one of the following registration groups:
- Daily Personal Activities;
- High-Intensity Daily Personal Activities. or
- Assistance with Daily Life Tasks in a Group or Shared Living Arrangement.
- The NDIA will contact eligible providers by email prior to payment being made.
PLANNING FOR ADMINISTERING THE COVID-19 VACCINE
Service providers have been encouraged by the Australian Government to undertake preliminary planning as to how they will manage the vaccination process at their sites.
This can include beginning conversations with persons with disability and workers about:
- The rollout of the vaccination program.
- The benefits of getting the vaccine.
- Gaining consent.
- Having the required conversations with family members, carers and/or substitute decision-makers (where relevant).
- Note that the Pfizer vaccine is available to NDIS participants aged 12-15. Please ensure that any participants in this age bracket are aware of this.
Providers can also identify:
- An appropriate place for vaccinations to occur, including an area where people can wait to have the vaccine.
- An appropriate place for the vaccine team to be located where a private and confidential conversation can occur. This conversation should be between the person giving the vaccine and the person receiving the vaccine.
- An appropriate place to monitor people who have received the vaccination for between 15 and 30 minutes.
- How to maintain COVID Safe practices on vaccination day, including:
- What supports each person may need on vaccination day.
HOW PARTICIPANTS WILL RECEIVE THEIR COVID-19 VACCINATION
The Government will contact residential disability care facilities directly to arrange visits by their vaccination teams. These vaccination teams will provide the vaccine to people with disabilities and complex needs.
Disability residents who can access off-site services and residential disability care workers (as well as persons with a disability that don’t live in a residential setting) can also get their vaccination at the following sites:
- General practices.
- Federal and State-run vaccination clinics.
- Walk-in AstraZeneca clinics.
- Participating pharmacies.
- Other arrangements to be confirmed such as doctors visiting a residential service, or teams organised by service providers.
- General practice-led respiratory clinics.
- Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services.
Vaccinations in Australia, including the COVID-19 vaccine, are voluntary.
All Australians must give informed consent before having the COVID-19 vaccine.
It is important that persons with disabilities understand what they are agreeing to, and that they understand:
- What the COVID-19 vaccine is and what it is for.
- The benefits of the vaccine.
- The risks of the vaccine.
Providers are not required to use the COVID-19 vaccine consent form. Usual consent processes can be adapted to obtain informed consent. Although, the vaccine providers contracted by the Department may require forms to be completed prior to their attendance at the residence for administrative purposes.
The Australian Government has created an information sheet for disability providers, which provides detail about other consent issues, including:
- Verbal consent.
- Supporting people to make an informed decision.
- Consent for the second injection.
- Talking to a GP about the COVID-19 vaccine.
DISABILITY WORKERS WHO CHOOSE TO NOT GET VACCINATED
Choosing not to be vaccinated may have implications for disability providers, workers, and for patients/clients.
If a person with a disability is concerned about a support person not being vaccinated for COVID-19, they may contact their service provider to talk to about making other arrangements.
PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES WHO CHOOSE NOT TO BE VACCINATED
Withdrawal of supports that a person with a disability relies on to meet their daily living needs and maintain their health and safety due to them not receiving a vaccination (without consultation or alternative arrangements) could constitute a breach of the NDIS Code of Conduct and/or the Conditions of Registration.
If you require advice on anything related to Vaccine Rollout, email the Commonwealth COVID-19 Taskforce – Disability at: COVID19VacTFDisabilityServices1A@Health.gov.au.
WORK HEALTH AND SAFETY (WHS) OBLIGATIONS
Work Health and Safety (WHS) laws stipulate that disability providers have a duty of care to eliminate or minimise the risk of exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace.
Safe Work Australia has issued advice and information to assist employers with their obligations under WHS laws.
GOVERNMENT RESOURCES AND GUIDELINES FOR PROVIDERS
- Disability Service Providers Toolkit.
- Safe Work Australia advice on your obligations under the model WHS laws and how these relate to COVID-19 vaccines.
- NDIS Commission Provider Alerts for New South Wales.
- See NSW Health’s website on updates for:
ADDITIONAL CONTACT INFORMATION
- If you require additional information, please contact:
- your local Public Health Unit by calling 1300 066 055 (available 24/7);
- Service NSW by calling 13 77 88 (available 24/7);
- the National Coronavirus and COVID-19 Vaccine Helpline by calling 1800 020 080 (available 24/7); or
- the Coronavirus Disability Information Helpline by calling 1800 643 787 (available Monday – Friday 8 am – 8 pm).