Sarah's Soundbite: October 2020
First of all, a big congratulations to everyone in the disability sector. We have successfully ridden and flattened the second wave of coronavirus in our State. Through multiple efforts, extensive work and commitment at all levels we have kept the incidence of COVID-19 relatively low and contained. This is a fantastic achievement, well worth celebrating.
We are now entering another challenging time with a different mix of issues. The disability sector will continue as a restricted sector under DHHS directions and the Victorian Roadmap, and thus subject to a wide range of constraints and guidance. We expect these directions will continue to be updated and this will require all providers to monitor and implement.
Continued infection prevention and control
In all likelihood, there will be sporadic COVID-19 outbreaks in the future, and therefore imperative that disability service providers continue to review and maintain their infection prevention and control processes. With this in mind, NDS is inviting DHHS public health experts to join various upcoming forums and meetings, with the opportunity for providers to hear about and discuss aspects of infection control. NDS also offers infection prevention and control e-Learning for providers.
In addition, NDS is offering:
- COVIDSafe Plans workshop on Friday, 13 November is an opportunity to review your COVIDSafe Plans alongside others in the sector.
- Monthly Health and Safety representatives community of practice meetings, hosted jointly with WorkSafe Victoria.
- Supported Independent Living community of practice meetings to discuss issues relating to infection control and business continuity, SIL pricing and NDIS requirements
- In Home Support Providers on Tuesday, 10 November which will include a presentation focusing on maintaining infection control momentum in household settings where workers are a visitor and not in control of the environment as they would be with an office or residential service delivery site.
'Business as usual'
Alongside the continued focus to be COVIDSafe, many organisations are now reviewing their business strategies and directions. JobKeeper has been a welcome support for many disability services, but this is time-limited.
The pandemic has introduced new ways of working and delivering supports, and many of these now need to be incorporated into ongoing business as usual. Some participants may be seeking a different mix of supports as we emerge from this time, and the changes to the NDIA group and SIL prices also pose financial challenges to organisations.
To support your organisation, NDS is offering:
- Protection Growth Resilience Risk Management for Boards workshop on Tuesday, 10 November on the risk environment currently facing disability services is designed to assist organisations to navigate this environment, alongside our communities of practice for finance managers
- CEO’s Meeting 2020 on 7-8 December
- Royal Commission Interim Report Webinar on Wednesday, 4 November.
Another area of focus is the disability workforce. NDS members are reporting widespread fatigue and exhaustion of staff. There are new expectations on workers now, with PPE and heightened cleaning requirements and ongoing challenges with restricting the mobility of the workforce. NDS's Regional Disability Workforce Innovation Forum on 12 November is an opportunity to hear about how some services have implemented innovative responses to workforce challenges.
During these next few weeks, which are likely to be busy for us all, please take the time to savour Victoria's success in getting through the second wave of COVID-19, and enjoy the opportunities for face to face get-togethers as the restrictions ease.