Coronavirus (COVID-19) advice for people with disability

It is important we all take care to protect people with a disability from coronavirus.

Why people with disability are at risk

Some people with disability have higher rates of health issues including chronic conditions and weakened immune system.

Many people with disability rely on support and assistance from family members, carers and support workers.

Protecting yourself

As we move towards a COVIDSafe Australia and states and territories ease physical distancing measures, it’s vital to do everything you can to continue to protect yourself and others from coronavirus:

Make sure you continue to go to any scheduled appointments with your doctor. If you are worried about going to see them in person, contact them to arrange a telehealth consultation.

You can also:

  • speak to your pharmacist about having medication delivered to you
  • consider getting groceries and other essentials delivered. A priority service is available for NDIS participants

Read the Department of Social Service's accessible, easy read, coronavirus (COVID-19) resources.

Services and support

Telehealth services

You can access bulk-billed telehealth services from your doctor, nurse or mental health professional via phone or videoconference. Learn more about telehealth services.

Electronic prescriptions

We are fast tracking electronic prescription for up to 80% of general practices and community pharmacies for those at greater risk of serious illness.

Ordering prescription medications from home

You might be eligible to have prescription medications delivered from your regular pharmacy through the Home Medicines Service.

Learn more about Home Medicines Services or contact your local pharmacist.

Stay connected and care for your mental health

Being isolated can be stressful and hard to manage. Learn more about how to manage isolation.

Prioritising your mental wellbeing is an important part of staying healthy. The Government’s Head to Health website is the best place to start if you need some help coping with anxiety and worry about coronavirus.

You can also visit the new Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service provided by BeyondBlue.

Supporting people with disability

People with disability

Person-centred emergency preparedness planning for COVID-19

This resource assists people with disability to plan for how they will manage the impacts of the pandemic. It is important that people with disability have a plan that is tailored to their unique support needs. This resource was co-designed with people with disability and their representatives.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) hospital companion for people with disability

This tool can assist a person with disability if they need to go to hospital. The COVID-19 companion helps to convey important personal information to health professionals.

Families

Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Information for Families

This fact sheet provides information for families of a person with intellectual or developmental disability during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Return to School for Students with Disability COVID-19 Risk Management Plan

This plan can help prepare for the return to school. The document is an optional resource for parents and carers. It can aid discussions with a student’s school and doctor on strategies to reduce risks in the school environment.

Support workers and carers

Information for Disability Support Providers and Workers

This fact sheet provides information and guidance for disability support providers and workers who provide health care to people with intellectual or developmental disability during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Guide to personal protective equipment (PPE) for disability care providers

This fact sheet provides information and guidance for disability care providers on the use of PPE.

Information for support workers and carers on coronavirus (COVID-19) testing for people with disability

Advice on who should be tested, where testing can be done, and how to explain the testing process to a person with disability.

Video for disability support workers on wearing PPE

Watch as Alison McMillan, Australia’s Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer, demonstrates how and when to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) for disability support workers.

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Hi, I'm Alison McMillan, Australia's Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer. 

I know many of you in the disability support sector have questions about how and when you should be wearing personal protective equipment, or PPE. 

This is particularly concerning for workers who need to provide hands-on care, who have close physical contact with clients. 

But before I talk to you about when and how you should wear PPE, there are other things you should do to minimise the risk. 

Firstly, please don't go to work if you are unwell, even if you have the mildest symptoms.

Follow good hygiene practices, handwashing with soap and water, or using alcohol-based sanitiser before and after any client contact. 

Try not to touch your face, however tempting it might be to do so, and regularly clean and disinfect surfaces. 

Where possible, work in a well ventilated area, or minimise your time in an enclosed area and maintain distancing of 1.5 metres whenever possible. 

All of these things will help protect you and reduce the risk of infection. 

You should always follow standard precautions to ensure infection prevention and control. 

Full PPE must be worn whenever you are delivering personal care to someone with a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19. 

This is because an infected person may produce respiratory droplets transmitting the virus.

You do not have to wear PPE when providing services to all clients. 

When you do wear PPE, you need to think about how this will affect your client.

In particular, masks can make communication with hearing impaired clients more difficult. 

People with intellectual or development disabilities may become fearful or anxious. 

If your care recipients are concerned about PPE, please take the time to explain the right use to them and their families. 

And it's important to reassure them before providing care. 

Care recipients with suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 will be cared for in isolation. 

When you're working in the same room, providing personal care or other care, you will need to wear a gown, surgical mask, protective eye wear and gloves. 

And now I'll show you how to put on and remove PPE.

Before putting on PPE, you must wash your hands with alcohol-based sanitiser or soap and water. 

First, put on your gown, fully cover your torso from neck to knee, arms to the end of the wrists and wrap around the back. 

Fasten at the neck and the waist. 

Next, you put on a surgical mask. With a surgical mask, the white side sits towards the face. Secure the ties, the middle of the back of your head and neck. 

Fit the flexible band to the bridge of your nose and fit snugly to your face and below your chin. 

Eye protection comes next. Glasses are easy to put on. Splash shields or goggles should be placed on your eyes and face and adjusted to fit. 

Finally, you need to put on gloves. When you put on gloves, extend them to cover the wrists of the gown.

After treating a care recipient, start to remove PPE while you're still in the room. 

When removing gloves, the principles are demonstrated here. 

Do not let the outside of the gloves touch your exposed skin. 

Once removed, discard the gloves immediately into a waste container and hygiene your hands.

To remove the gown, unfasten the gown ties. Take care that the sleeves do not contact your body when reaching for the ties. 

Pull the gown away from your neck and shoulders. Make sure you only touch the inside of the gown. 

Turn the gown inside out. Then fold or roll into a bundle and discard in a waste container and hygiene your hands. 

Then step out of the room. 

Outside of the room, remove protective glasses by holding the arms. 

Once removed, clean reusable equipment or discard disposable items in a waste container and hygiene your hands.

To remove the mask, undo the bottom ties or elastics, then grasp the top ones. 

Do not touch the front of the mask. 

Discard immediately into a waste container. 

Immediately after removing all PPE, hygiene your hands again using soap and water or an alcohol-based sanitiser. 

PPE can safely be removed in other orders, but always gloves first and mask last.

To protect yourself you need to avoid contaminating your clothing, skin, eyes, nose or mouth when taking off used PPE, so always make sure not to touch the front of any items.

If you're providing in-home care, take away all used PPE and a bio hazard, and double bag it, washing your hands between tying up each bag. 

If you have any questions about when or how to wear PPE, go to health.gov.au 

The work you are doing is so important to support many Australians living with disabilities. 

If we continue to work together, we can maximise their quality of life and reduce the spread of COVID and save lives. 

And please remember always to wash your hands. 

Thank you.

Health professionals

Information for health workers in emergency departments supporting people with disability

This fact sheet provides information and guidance for health workers in emergency departments (EDs) who provide health care to people with intellectual or developmental disability during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Information for health workers in hospitals supporting people with disability

This fact sheet provides information and guidance for health workers in hospitals who provide health care to people with intellectual or developmental disability during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Information for health workers supporting people with disability

This fact sheet provides information and guidance for health workers providing care to people with intellectual or developmental disability during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Information for health and mental health workers supporting people with disability

This fact sheet provides information and guidance for health and mental health workers providing care to people with intellectual or developmental disability during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Information for primary health care services supporting people with disability

This fact sheet provides information and guidance for primary health care staff and services, including general
practitioners (GPs), providing care to people with intellectual or developmental disability during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Home care providers

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Guide for Home Care Providers

This guide is for providers of aged care and disability services who offer home care and support services to older people living at home and people with disability living in the community. It provides information and guidance on how to stay safe from coronavirus (COVID-19).

Government response

Management and operational plan

We’ve developed a plan for people of all ages with disability, their families, carers, support workers and the disability and health care sectors.

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.

Management and Operational Plan for People with Disability

The Australian Health Sector Emergency Response Plan for Novel Coronavirus guides the Australian health sector response. This management and operational plan focuses on people with disability. There is an easy read version on this page, too.

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

Videos

More information

Information and support about coronavirus (COVID-19) is also available from the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) website.

Contact your local state and territory health departments for information about your local health system arrangements. 

If you have concerns about your health, speak to your doctor.

National Coronavirus Helpline

Call this line if you are seeking information on coronavirus (COVID-19) or help with the COVIDSafe app. The line operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

View contact

Disability Information Helpline

Call for information and referrals for people with disability who need help because of coronavirus (COVID-19). You can call Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm (AEST). The helpline is not available on national public holidays. Family members, carers, support workers and services can also call.

View contact

National Relay Service

If you are deaf or have a hearing or speech impairment, you can use the National Relay Service to access any of the department's contact phone numbers. The service is available 24 hours a day from anywhere in Australia

View contact

Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS National)

TIS National is for people who do not speak English and for agencies and businesses that need to communicate with their non-English speaking clients.

View contact

Last updated: 
3 July 2020

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