Amended Victorian Government directions for disability residential service providers
Updated Victorian Government directions have been released that are relevant to the delivery of disability residential services, with amendments to the Care Facilities Directions and Workplace (Additional Industry Obligations) Directions.
The amendments relate to all care facilities including:
- disability residential services, including group homes, respite, specialist forensic disability and Disability Forensic Assessment and Treatment Service (DFATS)
- Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) enrolled dwellings
- short-term accommodation and assistance dwellings
From 11.59 pm on 25 October 2020, requirements for worker and visitor declarations and record-keeping must be fully implemented.
Care Facilities – Disability accommodation supplementary guidance
DHHS has released a new Factsheet: Care Facilities – Disability accommodation supplementary guidance [Word] on its website (under the heading: Care Facilities Directions).
Note the amended requirements relate to:
- entry to disability accommodation services
- visitors to disability accommodation services
- facilitation of communication with residents
- declarations by visitors
Entry to disability accommodation
The Factsheet identifies a range of people excluded from disability accommodation, including:
- a person who has COVID-19 and has not yet been given clearance from isolation
- a person who is required to quarantine under the Diagnosed Persons and Close Contacts Directions
- A person who has arrived in Australia from overseas travel in the preceding 14 days
- a person who has been in contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the preceding 14 days (except in the course of their employment while wearing the appropriate level of personal protective equipment)
- a person with a fever or other known symptoms of COVID-19
- in relation to a visitor- the person has been tested for COVID-19 and has not yet received the results of the test.
Visitors to disability accommodation services
The Factsheet highlights several amendments to the limits on visitors to residential services, including:
- one household at a time can now visit residents in regional areas for a maximum of two hours a day
- one visitor at any one time for the purpose of providing essential care and support necessary for a resident’s immediate emotional, cultural, spiritual or social wellbeing
Facilitation of communication with residents
It is also noted that service providers must take reasonable steps to facilitate phone, video calls, or other electronic communication with parents, guardians, partners, carers and support persons of residents to support the physical, emotional and social wellbeing of residents. In addition, service providers should support residents wishing to connect with external service providers to communicate by electronic means.
Declarations by visitors
Prior to entering disability support accommodation, visitors must make a declaration that they:
- Are not currently experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19
- Have not been in contact with another person who is a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the past 14 days, and;
- Are not required to quarantine or self-isolate.
Workplace (Additional Industry Obligations) Directions
The updated Workplace (Additional Industry Obligations) Directions also apply to disability residential services, with requirements relating to staff declarations, record keeping, mobility and workers in outbreak settings, asymptomatic testing and cleaning.
All workers (including sessional staff from other service providers) must declare in writing before commencing work in the disability residential service that they:
- are free of COVID-19 symptoms
- have, in the preceding 14 days, not been in contact with a confirmed case; and
- are not currently required to isolate or quarantine.
DHHS advises that service providers must keep records in relation to people who attend disability accommodation, including all workers and visitors. This includes all logs created while the directions are in place; work premises rosters; and time and attendance rosters.
In Metropolitan Melbourne, disability accommodation providers must limit mobility across sites where a worker has potentially been exposed to COVID-19 at another site. A staff member (or contractor) who has worked at a care facility where there has been an outbreak of COVID-19 cannot immediately work at another care facility. Staff in these situations must wait a minimum of 14 days and test negative for COVID-19 before working at a different care facility.
In Regional Victoria a disability residential service provider must not let a staff member (or contractor) work:
- If they have worked at a care facility in metropolitan Melbourne; or
- worked at another in regional Victoria at the time a confirmed case was present;
- unless the worker has tested negative for COVID-19.
Requirements to carry out asymptomatic surveillance testing does not currently apply to disability accommodation services.
A care facility must comply with the DHHS cleaning and disinfection requirements.