Implementing the Victorian Care Facilities Directions (No 2) in disability residential settings – Your questions answered
The Care Facilities Directions (No 2) is in force until 11 May 2020. The directions commenced on April 13 2020 at midnight and is the second iteration issued by the Victorian Chief Health Officer relevant to residential settings.
Disability residential services, including Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) enrolled dwellings and Short Term Accommodation (STA) are, for the purpose of the directions, defined as a care facility and must adhere to the additional restrictions. The NDIA have also recently announced a number of new measures in response to COVID-19 in the residential setting. The NDS Helpdesk has received a number of questions regarding the implementation of these directions.
These questions include:
1. Can an SDA property be locked down as a precautionary measure to reduce risk of infection, for residents and for staff protection?
No. Providers cannot implement restrictions which go beyond government directions as a precautionary measure. This relates both to restricting a residents right to leave the home when complying with the Stay at Home Directions and/or restricting access to the home when complying with the Care Facilities Directions (No 2).
A recent FAQ produced by the NDIS Commission makes the following statement, “If you isolate an NDIS participant because you are concerned about their health but there is no directive from a medical practitioner that is in line with the Commonwealth Chief Medical Officer’s advice, then this could be a regulated restrictive practice.”
2. Can a resident have visitors?
Yes. A resident can be visited by one person or two persons together, each day for a maximum of two hours per visit and the purpose of the visit is to provide care and support. Upon each visit the visitor must demonstrate that they are not an excluded person by meeting criteria listed in section 5 (2) of the Care Facilities Directions (No 2). The criteria includes, but is not limited to:
- confirming that the person has not been diagnosed with COVID-19;
- that the person is not currently under self-isolation instructions;
- that the person has not returned to Australia within the past fourteen days; and
- that the person does not have a temperature of higher than 37.5 degrees or symptoms of acute respiratory infection.
3. Can a SIL provider step-in and deliver support which would usually be provided by a community access organization outside the home?
Yes. NDS understands that the NDIA’s interim measure to allow the SIL provider to deliver support beyond that included in the participant’s 53 week SIL quote should be utilised in the event that the community participation provider is unable to deliver support other than face-to-face and an alternate delivery method cannot be negotiated and the participant has independently and without influence chosen to cease service.
The NDIA have encouraged providers to be responsive; supporting the delivery of service in innovative and flexible ways, including telehealth and telepractice. Many community participation providers have responded to this challenge and have developed new ways of working and delivering support. SIL providers and community participation providers are working collaboratively with support coordinators to ensure participants can access support from their usual providers. When this cannot occur and as a last resort, the SIL provider may step in to deliver support in place of the community participation provider and as an interim measure.
Further information found on the NDIS COVID-19 website in the connecting and helping participants FAQ.
4. The Internet is connected and the participant contributes to the cost of that service. Can the SIL provider restrict the residents' use of the Internet and ban the use of platforms like Zoom?
Where the participant contributes to the cost of the internet, the provider would not determine when or how this is used. The NDIS funding has separated the funding for rent, support and everyday items. Internet access in a house would be seen as an everyday expense that the individual may access through their own phone or as a house pool resources to have, for example, NBN access.
5. How is the NDIA supporting SIL providers when there is a confirmed COVID-19 participant diagnosis?
On April 27 2020, the NDIA released a number of new measures to support SIL providers when a COVID-10 positive diagnosis is confirmed. These measures are detailed on the NDIS website COVID-19 page under payments and billing.
Would you like further information on the Care Facilities Directions (No 2)?
Visit the Department of Health and Human Services website for further FAQ on restricting access to care facilities.
Do you have your own question?
NDS members can ask a question on the NDS Helpdesk.
The Victorian COVID-19 Disability Services Sector Plan has been updated to include the advice about the expansion of testing for COVID 19 to anyone demonstrating clinical symptoms, circumstances where testing of asymptomatic contacts of a confirmed COVID-19 case may be considered, and to expand the information about what the Stay at Home Direction (No4) means for disability services including long term and short term or respite accommodation and where people may require more than one worker with them for essential activities in the community.