Disability information

Last Updated: 01 Jul 2021 12:21pm

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Staying Safe as a Tasmanian with Disability

Restrictions on gatherings are in place in Tasmania to help control and prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our community.

Tasmanians with disability are subject to the same restrictions as the general population.

Some people with disability may have underlying health condition, including chronic conditions and weakened immune systems. As a result, they may be at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

Many people with disability also rely on support and/or care from family, carers and/or support workers. This can make physical distancing impractical or impossible and potentially puts them at higher risk of exposure to COVID-19.

Everyone should protect themselves by:

  • physical distancing
  • practising good hand hygiene
  • practising cough and sneeze hygiene
  • staying home and getting tested if you develop any cold or flu-like symptoms (even if mild).
  • downloading the COVIDsafe App.

People at higher risk of developing severe illness with COVID-19 are encouraged to monitor public health advice and take extra precautions to protect their health, especially when out and about. They should also take extra precautions to avoid contact with anyone who has cold or flu-like symptoms, including children who might not fully understand physical distancing boundaries.

It is important to discuss your situation with your GP or specialist and consider developing a COVID-19 Action Plan to help manage risk.

If you are a person with disability who has a health condition that places you at higher risk, you are not restricted to your home because of this advice. You can move around the community, go shopping, see friends, or do something you enjoy, if you feel comfortable and supported by medical advice you may have sought or is in your COVID-19 Action Plan.

You must stay at your home if you are diagnosed with COVID-19 and have been directed to be in isolation. You must also stay home if someone you know has been diagnosed, and you have been identified as a close contact. In this instance, you are required to quarantine for 14 days. You will be notified if this is the case.

Information Sources for People with Disability

The Australian Government Department of Health website has Advice for people with disability.

Participants of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) 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 getting 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 Read information to support providers, families and carers to respond to COVID-19.

An Easy Read version of the Tasmanian Government’s Roadmap to Recovery is available on the Speak Out Tasmania website.

Tasmania has three disability advocacy services that can assist people with disability to have their say or to help understand how the COVID-19 restrictions affect you:

Management and Operational Plan for People with Disability

The Australian Health Sector Emergency Response Plan for Novel Coronavirus guides the Australian health sector response. The Management and Operational Plan focuses on people with disability. There is an easy read version available as well.

The plan was overseen by the Advisory Committee for the COVID-19 Response for People with Disability.

It provides high-level guidance on how to manage and prevent the transmission of COVID-19 for people with disability and will be updated as needed.

Disability Service Providers Continuity Planning

Disability Service Providers must have business continuity plans for responding to potential COVID-19 outbreaks, including the need to quarantine people with disability or staff. More information can be found on:

Residents who are showing symptoms of COVID-19

Any resident of Supported Independent Living (SIL) services showing symptoms of COVID-19 should be managed as per the Tasmanian Coronavirus (COVID-19) Disability Service Providers Preparedness and Response Plan

In summary:

  • immediately implement droplet and contact infection control protocols, as per your outbreak management plan
  • if possible, isolate the resident in a single room with the door closed
  • arrange testing promptly by phoning the Public Health Hotline on 1800 671 738
  • increase the frequency of clinical observations and monitoring of the resident, and continue to provide routine care to the resident
  • contact the resident’s healthcare provider to arrange for clinical assessment.

See Checklist: Response to a suspect case (resident) in the Tasmanian COVID-19 Outbreaks in Residential Aged Care Facilities: Toolkit to support planning, preparedness and response.

A Resident who has confirmed COVID-19

  • If the individual is diagnosed with COVID-19, they must comply with the requirements of the Public Health Direction – Isolation – No. 4, which includes the requirement to isolate until released from isolation by Public Health Services.
  • Isolating due to a COVID-19 diagnosis is not considered a restrictive practice under the Disability Services Act 2011, and therefore does not require authorisation by the Tasmanian Senior Practitioner.
  • Refer to the Tasmanian Coronavirus (COVID-19) Disability Service Providers Preparedness and Response Plan.
  • Follow the advice provided by Public Health and the Outbreak Management Coordination Team that will be activated in the event of a case of COVID-19 in a SIL setting.

All workplaces are required to have a COVID-19 Safety Plan that complies with minimum COVID-19 safety standards. See COVID-19 Safe Workplaces Framework for more information about these requirements.

Please note that Tasmanian disability facilities are exempt from the maximum gathering number, if the gathering is necessary for the normal function of the facility (eg meals). Disability facilities are also exempt from the density limit requirements (two square meters per person). Physical distancing (1.5 metres) still applies, but only where practicable, so as not to jeopardise a client’s health if they require one-to-one care. This information is relevant for disability facilities completing a COVID-19 Safety Plan.

Relevant COVID-19 Safe Workplace Guidelines provide more detail on how sectors and workplaces can meet the Minimum Standards for disability providers, including Other Residential Care Services and Social Assistance Services.

NDIS providers 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. Remain up to date with specific guidance by visiting the NDIS and NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission websites.

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

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).

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 in quarantine or symptomatic of COVID-19.

Disability Support Workers are eligible for this form of assistance.

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

Accommodation support for Tasmanians at higher risk

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 if it is demonstrated that quarantine from other residents who are at high risk within the facility cannot be reasonably achieved. Contact the Tasmanian Public Health Hotline on 1800 671 738 for more information.

Emergency Relief

Organisations such as Red Cross, Rural Business Tasmania and The Salvation Army can provide emergency food hampers, delivery of medications, financial counselling and other essential support for persons who are required by Public Health to quarantine due to COVID-19 risk.

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. Eligibility for these payments does not require residents to transfer to alternative accommodation. Public Health will provide an appropriate referral. Contact the Tasmanian Public Health Hotline on 1800 671 738 for more information.

Pandemic Isolation Assistance Grants

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. Eligibility for these payments does not require residents to transfer to alternative accommodation. Contact the Public Health Hotline on 1800 671 738 for more information.

The Tasmanian Government, in partnership with Aspen Medical, is operating two Additional support COVID-19 vaccination clinics in Hobart and Launceston providing additional support for:

  • People who are living with disability and/or mental illness
  • NDIS recipients and carers
  • Disability support workers
  • People who may have anxiety about medical procedures.

What additional support is provided at these clinics?

  • The clinics have longer appointment times allowing more time and support to be given during the vaccination process
  • Easy read resources will be readily available
  • Extra space has been incorporated into the layout to allow for a more comfortable experience moving through the clinic
  • A dedicated ‘quiet clinic’ on Friday 16 July for those who would benefit from a low sensory/quieter experience in a clinic.

If you are a carer (paid or unpaid) see Information for Carers – Supporting someone through the COVID-19 vaccine process fact sheet for more information.

To book an appointment, call the Public Health Hotline on 1800 671 738 and let the operator know that you want to book into an Additional Support Clinic / Quiet Day clinic.

Please note there may be a wait due to the current outbreak situation – please be patient when making your booking.

See booking a vaccination appointment for clinic details including location, dates and times available.