Providing disability support services during COVID-19

Resources and advice for disability service providers and workers. Find out when you must not go to work, getting coronavirus (COVID-19) testing, identifying symptoms, and protecting yourself and the people you care for.

When you must not work

If you are disability support worker, do not go to work if you have:

  • returned from overseas in the past 14 days
  • been in contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19
  • a fever
  • a symptom, even a minor symptom, of respiratory illness (cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, runny nose or nasal congestion).

Let your employer know if you need to quarantine at home.

Identifying symptoms

Monitor the health of people in your care and watch out for symptoms of COVID-19.

Keep in mind that some people with intellectual or developmental disability may:

  • be at greater risk of serious illness due to COVID-19 if they have some medical conditions and co-morbidities
  • have difficulty understanding and adhering to social distancing, handwashing and other risk reduction strategies, which increases their risk
  • not show or be able to communicate early COVID-19 symptoms.

Getting tested

If you develop fever or respiratory symptoms, even if mild, do not go to work, and get tested straight away.

If someone you care for has symptoms, you or they should seek advice from their GP or the National Coronavirus Helpline about whether they should be tested.

Read about testing and explaining the testing process to a person with disability.

Stopping the spread

To help slow the spread of COVID-19, practise good hygiene and physical distancing and follow the limits on public gatherings.

For more on how you can protect yourself and those in your care, complete the 30-minute COVID-19 infection control training.

Personal protective equipment (PPE)

Wear appropriate PPE (gown, mask, protective eyewear and gloves) if you:

  • will be exposed to body fluids or very contaminated surfaces
  • are caring for someone confirmed or suspected of having COVID-19.

Remove your PPE before leaving the room or the person’s home. Wash or sanitise your hands straight after removing PPE.

Disability support workers may be required to wear a mask at all times when providing care in areas with community transmission of COVID-19. Check current requirements in your state / territory.

Read our guide to PPE for disability care providers.

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.

Getting PPE

NDIS providers and self-managing participants who can no longer access PPE supplies the private market can contact the National Medical Stockpile by emailing NDISCOVIDPPE [at] health.gov.au.

Read more about accessing PPE for NDIS providers.

If you are a non-NDIS provider, and can no longer access PPE through usual means, contact your state or territory health authority

Supporting care recipients

Disability support providers and workers must minimise risks of infection.

For advice on preparing equipment and staff, cleaning, working with your care recipients and more, read our COVID-19 guide for home care providers.

Read our COVID-19 advice for:

People with disability, their families and carers can read our it’s ok to have home care fact sheet.

Mental health support

Some people with disability may feel more alone during the pandemic. They may:

  • have less contact with friends and relatives
  • feel isolated from their culture and heritage
  • have less contact with the outside world because some shops and activities have temporarily closed.

To support people with disability, let them know about Head to Health, which provides information about mental health and digital support.

Looking after your own mental health is also important. Read our mental health advice for the health workforce.

Outbreak prevention and management

Providers of disability residential services must take steps to prevent COVID-19 outbreaks and plan for outbreak management.

The Communicable Diseases Network Australia (CDNA) has also developed guidance on the prevention and management of COVID-19 outbreaks in disability residential services.

Providers of disability residential services must also review guidance on outbreak prevention and management issued by state and territory governments.

Staying informed

Australian Government WhatsApp channel for COVID-19

Join our COVID-19 WhatsApp channel to learn the latest on Australia's response to coronavirus (COVID-19). If you're already a WhatsApp user you can send a message to the channel to connect. If you don't have WhatsApp, download the app to join the channel.

Coronavirus Australia app

Stay up to date with official information and advice about the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation. You can check your symptoms and get notified when urgent information and updates are published.

Resources

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. An Easy Read version is also available.

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

Online training

A 30-minute online module — COVID-19 infection control training — is available for care workers across all health care settings.

Each module takes 5 to 10 minutes. You will receive an acknowledgement of completion certificate for each module.

This training is hosted on an external site, provided by our COVID-19 training partner Aspen Medical.

Register now

Publications and fact sheets

Coronavirus (COVID-19) resources for health professionals, including aged care providers, pathology providers and health care managers

A collection of resources for health professionals, including aged care providers, pathology providers and health care managers, about coronavirus (COVID-19).

Webinars

View our webinars on the COVID-19 response for the health and aged care sector.

Contacts

COVID-19 Health Professionals Disability Advisory Service

This service provides specialised advice to health professionals responsible for the medical care of people with disability diagnosed with COVID-19 or experiencing symptoms.

View contact

Last updated: 
16 April 2021

Help us improve health.gov.au

If you would like a response please use the enquiries form instead.