Disability information

This information has been developed for Disability Service Providers in Tasmania.

Key contacts

For-up-to-date information, visit:

Service delivery strategies for disability services

This section provides a brief outline of strategies to reduce risk in various types of service delivery and to ensure compliance with the Directions recently issued under the Public Health Act 1997.

Strategies for all services

Disability Service Providers must have business continuity plans for responding to the potential need to quarantine individuals with disability or staff.

To prevent the spread of COVID-19 within their facilities, Disability Service Providers should:

  • educate and emphasize the importance of everyday personal prevention actions and encourage and support staff to stay at home when they are sick;
  • provide adequate supplies for good hygiene, including easy access to clean and functional handwashing facilities, soap, paper towels and alcohol-based hand sanitiser (where available);
  • minimise, where possible, close contact and the sharing of objects such as cups, food and drinks;
  • routinely clean and disinfect all frequently touched surfaces and objects such as doorknobs, bannisters, countertops, taps and phones;
  • provide individuals with disability in residential settings and staff providing services in these settings with accurate, up to date information about COVID-19 and steps they can take to protect themselves and their families;
  • all staff undertake the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission COVID-19 training module;
  • provide regular up to date health messages and key public health messages.

Core responsibilities for all services

All service providers have a responsibility to:

  • ensure staff are trained in infection prevention and control;
  • respond to requirements for quarantine or COVID-19 illness among service recipients or staff in accordance with the Tasmanian and Australian Government guidelines and instructions;
  • develop and implement business continuity plans to ensure critical supports and services continue to be provided for people with disability, while reducing risk of exposure to COVID-19 of both people with disability and staff;
  • ensure that all people with disability are supported to access relevant and up to date information in a format that they can understand. Please see the information on the NDIS website for participants. This information is available in a number of formats and languages;
  • ensure families and carers receive information about any changed practices or service delivery to respond to COVID-19 and that any such changes are relayed to the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission;
  • note that, if they are an NDIS provider, they have  specific obligations under the NDIS Code of Conduct and the NDIS Practice Standards that relate to the delivery of safe quality supports and services and the management of risks associated with supports provided to NDIS participants; and
  • ensure as an NDIS provider they remain up to date with specific guidance issued by the NDIS and NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission.

Direction under Section 16 of the Tasmanian Public Health Act 1997 - Gatherings

Restrictions on gatherings are in place in Tasmania to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in our community. Information is available under Gatherings.

Tasmanians with disabilities are subject to the same restrictions as the general population, that is to stay home unless it is essential to go out to:

  • shop for supplies or services; or
  • undertake personal exercise; or
  • attend medical, or health care, appointments or for medical treatment; or
  • provide social support, or care, to another person (including compassionate needs, or to facilitate shared custody, guardianship or care arrangements for another person); or
  • attend school or study, if unable to be performed at the person’s home; or
  • attend work, or volunteering, if unable to be performed at the person’s home; or
  • seek veterinary services for an animal; or
  • perform essential maintenance, or security inspections, of another premises owned, or occupied, by the person; or
  • attend another location if you have a reasonable excuse to attend the location.

Tasmanians with disabilities may seek assistance from carers or support workers to shop for supplies or to exercise outside.

Exemptions

A person with a disability may also seek assistance or support from more than one carer or support worker who they do not normally live with.

Example – a person with a disability may be accompanied into the community by more than one carer or support worker.

When accessing the community, the Stay at Home requirements must be adhered to.

Changes to other community activities

Many community activities will not be possible due to current restrictions, however, many centre-based activities for people with disability are able to continue but will vary from service to service. Any activities must meet the physical distancing protocols, therefore only undertake activities where physical distancing  of 1.5 meters (where safe and practicable) can be maintained between people or 1 person per 4 square meters, noting the advice above relating to Gatherings.

Respite services

Respite services are available to those who seek this care, as recommended by a medical practitioner.

Respite services may only be provided at formal respite facilities managed by a respite provider. The premises in which the respite service is provided must ensure physical distancing and hygiene practices are upheld where safe and practicable for the safety of residents and carers.

National Guidelines for Residential Care Facilities

The Australian Government has released national guidelines for the prevention, control and public health management of COVID-19 outbreaks in residential care facilities in Australia. These guidelines also provide important information relevant to Disability Service Providers.

These guidelines should be referred to for the prevention and management of outbreaks in Tasmania's accommodation for people with disability where residents sleep, eat and live either temporarily or on an ongoing basis. This includes NDIS Supported Disability Accommodation (SDA).

NDIS Providers should regularly refer to the NDIS website and the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission for COVID-19 advice regarding supporting participants and providers.

Supporting individuals with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 in a Disability Service

Individuals who are showing symptoms of COVID-19

If the individual does not meet the criteria for COVID-19 testing, continue to provide support implementing infection control practices and physical distancing and any further direction provided by the treating doctor. For more information go to Testing for COVID-19.

Individual has confirmed COVID-19

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) - NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission

The NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission has developed specific advice for Disability Service Providers in relation to PPE.

Current NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission advice is that outside of usual clinical care requirements, there is no requirement for workers supporting NDIS participants to wear surgical masks or other items of PPE unless they are working with people who have suspected or confirmed COVID-19, and:

  • supports being provided are essential to the participant’s life, health or safety;
  • contact between people exceeds Australian Government Department of Health guidelines for physical distancing or quarantine.

NDIS providers and self-managing participants who can no longer access PPE supplies through usual means can contact the National Medical Stockpile by emailing NDISCOVIDPPE@health.gov.au

The Tasmanian Government has contracted St John Ambulance to coordinate the supply of PPE to essential service providers unable to obtain their supplies through their normal supplier. Contact St John Ambulance on 1300 360 455 or ppe@stjohntas.org.au for assistance.

The situation with coronavirus is changing regularly. Stay up to date by visiting Information for providers on the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

Tasmanian support measures and stimulus package

Additional information regarding Tasmanian Stimulus and Supports for the Community can be found here.

Disability related

This section provides targeted advice regarding the Tasmanian Support Measures & Stimulus Package, in particular, the emergency accommodation supports included in this package.

This advice should be read in conjunction with National Guidelines for Residential Care Facilities.

Disability Support Workers

Disability Support Workers include workers in Tasmania’s disability accommodation facilities. These workers will be considered as frontline workers who may be eligible for Accommodation Support under the Tasmanian Support Measures & Stimulus Package.

Accommodation support for Frontline Workers

Emergency accommodation will be available for frontline workers if they need to stay away from home, in circumstances where their family members are ill.

Disability Support Workers are eligible for this form of assistance.

For workers of disability accommodation, this means that emergency accommodation support will be available by contacting the Public Health Hotline on 1800 671 738 if it is demonstrated that they are at risk of infection if they reside at their family home.

Accommodation support for Vulnerable Tasmanians

Emergency accommodation will be available for low-income individuals and families who have been placed in quarantine but who are unable to return to their regular place of residence.

For residents of disability accommodation, this means that emergency accommodation will be available by contacting the Public Health Hotline on 1800 671 738 if it is demonstrated that quarantine from other residents who are at high risk within the facility cannot be reasonably achieved.

Emergency Relief

The provision of emergency food hampers, delivery of medications, financial counselling and other essential support from Recovery Network Partner organisations for persons who are required by Public Health to quarantine due to COVID-19 risk.

Recovery Network Partners include Red Cross, Rural Business Tasmania and The Salvation Army.

For residents of disability accommodation this means that emergency relief assistance for quarantined residents will be available where there is demonstrated need that the facility requires this form of assistance by contacting the Public Health Hotline on 1800 671 738. Eligibility for these payments does not require residents to transfer to alternative accommodation. Public Health will provide an appropriate referral.

Pandemic Isolation Assistance Grants for Vulnerable Tasmanians

Pandemic Isolation Assistance Grants for vulnerable Tasmanians (also known as Emergency Relief Payments) – one-off payments will be made to low-income persons who are required by Public Health to quarantine due to COVID-19 risk.

For residents of disability accommodation, this means that one-off relief payments for quarantined residents will be available by contacting the Public Health Hotline on 1800 671 738. Eligibility for these payments does not require residents to transfer to alternative accommodation.

People with disability and NDIS participants

Participants should contact the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) on 1800 800 110 if they need to talk to a planner, make changes to their plan or are having trouble sourcing services due to COVID-19.

More information about COVID-19 for NDIS participants and their families and carers is available on the NDIS website.

The NDIS website also includes easy to read and participant fact sheets to support providers, families and carers to respond to COVID-19.