ACT Disability Support Workforce Capacity COVID-19 report released
What you need to know
- The report highlights a number of issues to be addressed to ensure increased organisational resilience should a COVID-19 outbreak impact the disability sector.
- The ACT Disability Support Workforce Capacity (COVID-19 Pandemic Planning) Survey was conducted from 30 March to 30 April 2021.
- The research will inform government strategies to minimise the impact to disability organisations, their support workers and people with disability in the event of a future outbreak of COVID-19 in the ACT.
- Issues raised included the importance of improving workforce confidence around supporting a COVID-19 positive client, improving COVID-19 vaccination uptake, and increasing Infection Prevention and Control/PPE training opportunities.
The ACT Disability Support Workforce Capacity (COVID-19 Pandemic Planning) Report was commissioned in a joint project between the ACT Office for Disability and NDS. The report draws on a survey of 25 ACT disability service providers who together represent 1,472 disability support workers, conducted between 30 March and 30 April 2021 by Community Lens Research.
Members nationally might benefit from the findings of this report, benchmarking against the survey responses. Members may also find the report useful to increase awareness of risks posed to organisational service continuity in a pandemic environment and the very real need to positively address barriers that may be causing support worker vaccine hesitancy/delay.
The purpose of this research is to inform government strategies to minimise the impact to disability organisations, their support workers and people with disability in the event of a future outbreak of COVID-19 in the ACT. Additionally, the research will inform organisational strategies to ensure robust responses and risk mitigation in a COVID-19 event.
The research has highlighted a number of issues to be addressed to ensure increased organisational resilience should a COVID-19 outbreak impact the ACT disability sector.
Key findings were:
- Only two of the 25 disability service providers (8 per cent) were highly confident about the willingness of workers to support COVID-19 positive clients;
- Provider estimates indicate that at least 50 per cent of the workforce display varying degrees of hesitancy around receiving the COVID-19 vaccine;
- Pandemic-related training of disability support workers represented in survey responses is at least 81.3 per cent coverage however, this does indicate there is a training ‘gap’ that needs to be closed;
- 92 per cent of respondents report a relatively high level of confidence in having a sufficient number of appropriately skilled and available disability support workers under current conditions, however, if the pandemic were to significantly impact the ACT, confidence in the ACT disability support workforce capacity drops to 68 per cent.
Other issues highlighted by the survey include the need to provide further support to the sector to improve confidence in service continuity planning; risks posed due to an estimated 15 per cent of workers in multiple employment and a casualisation rate of 46 per cent of the disability support workforce; and a general willingness by many service providers to ‘share workforce’ where reciprocal opportunities exist in a pandemic environment.