While the numbers of COVID-19 positive people with disability, and workers who support them, are not being regularly reported, NDS is aware that they are growing in number. NDS is meeting regularly with DHHS and the NDIA to discuss measures for containing the virus and how to ensure there is an adequate supply of workers.
Over the weekend, DHHS has provided updated advice on the wearing of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). All disability service providers should read this material and implement the recommendations immediately:
- Community services safe working requirements in stage 4
- PPE for community services providers for prevention of coronavirus (COVID-19)
- Face covering advice for community services workers
These fact sheets are all available on DHHS’s Community services – all sector – coronavirus (COVID-19) webpage.
PPE, as outlined in the Table below, should be worn when supporting clients who meet any of the following risk factors:
- suspected (that is awaiting a COVID-19 test result) or confirmed as having COVID-19
- fever or chills (in the absence of an alternative diagnosis that explains the clinical presentation) OR have symptoms of an acute respiratory infection (for example, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath or runny nose)
- have been advised by DHHS they are a close contact of someone with confirmed COVID-19 and are in quarantine for 14 days, or
- where you cannot determine whether the client or anyone in their home is at risk of having COVID-19 because you cannot get in contact with them or they refuse to answer.
If any of the above risk factors are identified, the client should also, wherever possible, wear a surgical mask.
Table: PPE to use when clients have coronavirus risk factors
|For use when||Hand
|Gloves||Disposable fluid repellant gown|
|Providing non-contact care or support and can maintain physical distancing (> 1.5 metres)||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||No||No|
|Providing non-contact care or support and can’t maintain physical distancing (> 1.5 metres||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||No||No|
|Providing care that involves touching the client or contact with blood or body fluids||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Providing care in an uncontrolled environment where there are high numbers of suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases and there may be exposure to aerosol-generating behaviours||Yes||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
Providers must read the source documents to understand the definitions associated with the above circumstances.
The documents also provide information on PPE use when clients do not have COVID-19 risk factors or have been cleared of COVID-19. It is important to note that the use of eye protection is recommended whenever providing care to a client (regardless of whether they have COVID-19 risk factors or not).
The new advice documents incorporate all the requirements and advice outlined by the Victorian Government in recent days, including:
- COVID Safe Plans
- Permitted Worker Scheme and associated permits
- site records
- minimising, where possible, workers working across more than one site
- written declarations by workers working for more than one employer
- responding to a confirmed case of COVID (including notifications)
- notifications to Worksafe
NDS understands work is underway to ensure sufficient supplies of PPE to meet the new requirements. NDS acknowledges and appreciates the extensive work of its members in their efforts to minimise the impact of COVID-19 in the disability sector.