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News update
18/07/2024
News update

The NDIS Commission seeks feedback on the Workforce Capability Framework

An independent survey from KPMG is open until 24 July to evaluate the effectiveness and use of the framework.
News update
18/07/2024
News update

NDS joins calls for accessible housing standards in NSW and WA

State governments’ failure to sign up to basic design standards for new homes discriminates against people with disability.

COVID-19, influenza and RSV update: With cases rising, providers should review risk management

A person stand in front of a city building wearing a surgical mask

12/06/2024

What you need to know

  • A recent rise in cases of COVID-19, influenza and RSV has caused workforce shortages in health services.
  • It is important for disability providers to maintain effective risk management and prevention strategies.
  • Authorities advise providers to revise their COVID-19 safe plans for the prevention and outbreak of all respiratory viruses and implement them with staff.
  • Providers should review mask use, particularly for close contact and where risk of infection is high, refresh protocols when workers are symptomatic, and encourage staff vaccination.

The recent increase in community transmission of COVID-19, influenza and RSV and its impact on health services should remind the disability sector to review their infection transmission and risk-reduction strategies for all conditions immediately.

Mitigating the risk of COVID-19 where your staff work will reduce risks of infection, workforce leave, and outbreaks among people with disability.

These strategies will reduce cross infection:

  • To your staff, continue to promote the value of vaccination for COVID-19, influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). With low vaccinations rates contributing to lower community protection and increased risk of serious illness, vaccinations play an important role in protection, especially for people who are immune-compromised or have complex health and disability needs.
  • Discuss in-reach vaccinations for people with a disability with the Primary Health Networks in your area.
  • Check local GP or community pharmacies for vaccination appointments or use Healthdirect to identify an option in your local area.
  • Manage positive cases of COVID-19, influenza or RSV. All your workers need a clear outline of the organisation’s expectations for isolation from work when they have symptoms or test positive for any infectious disease. Your expectations should include risk-reduction actions when exposed to an infectious disease and asymptomatic, such as N95 mask wearing.
  • Support staff to minimise infection transmission with participants during community or employment activities and within residential settings.
  • Make sure staff know your organisation expectations of testing requirements for prompt identification of COVID-19, influenza and RSV. The Therapeutic Goods Administration has identified approved RATS for all three infections.
  • Workers should adopt N95 masks during times of high community transmission of these infections, especially where close personal contact is part of service delivery. Workers should know how to effectively use the masks. Refer to the NDS video on fit checking N95 and P2 masks.
  • Prioritise social distancing of 1.5 metres wherever possible between all people. With all workers, check your implementation strategy, including making appropriate room arrangements, adding floor signage in reception areas, and moving activities outdoors if suitable.
  • Maintain correct hand hygiene and environmental cleaning, which need clear communication of procedure and the availability of appropriate sanitisers and cleaning products.
  • In residential settings, making sure PPE stocks are ready for immediate use when a positive case of an infectious disease is identified will reduce the risk of an outbreak. We have a PPE stock calculation guide on our COVID-19 Hub.
  • Increase cross ventilation to improve airflow and reduce infection transmission. Having a door and window open a small amount increases cross ventilation. Where this is not possible, consider using HEPA air scrubbers.

Resources

We have developed a full range of risk management resources for providers on our COVID-19 Hub webpage. We are revising a respiratory disease version for the page.

Contact information
Heather McMinn, Senior Disability Sector Consultant, 03 8341 4305, submit enquiry/feedback