Making face-to-face contact with support workers as safe as possible

Making face-to-face contact with support workers as safe as possible

For many people with NDIS plans, physical visits with a support worker are not optional: they need care that can only be given face-to-face. But this can be very stressful when everyone – friends, family, the media – is telling you that contact with other people is dangerous.

We know some My Plan Manager clients are cancelling appointments with their providers because they’re afraid of catching coronavirus, and that anxiety is understandable.

If you’re worried, contact your provider and ask what they’re doing to make your support safer, or whether they have any other ways to provide your support. You may find they already have solutions in place.

To help you feel more comfortable, we’ve put together this list of things you can ask your providers to check they are making your appointment or their visit as safe as possible:

  • Are workers washing or sanitising their hands when they get to your house, or when you get to their building, and then regularly while they work?
  • Are workers keeping 1.5 metres away from you, except when they have to be close to support you?
  • Are workers routinely cleaning surfaces that get touched a lot, and making sure that waste, like tissues, is put in the bin straight away?
  • Have workers done the government’s online Infection Control Training?

People do need to wear a mask if they are sick, not if they are well, but some providers prefer to use masks wherever possible, because people can be carriers without having symptoms.

You may ask your support worker to wear a mask, but they may not be able to get one, because items like this can be hard to find at the moment.

NDIS says that masks are only required where the participant has, or might have, COVID-19, where there is an immediate threat to the continuity of safe quality services due to lack of access to PPE, or when there is a clinical need.

In this situation , providers can send a request to NDISCOVIDPPE@health.gov.au if they can’t find masks and other equipment such as  disposable gloves.

It is definitely acceptable for you to have a mask for yourself if you can access one and it makes you feel safer. Remember to follow all the instructions for wearing the mask, to make sure it’s doing its job properly.

Some ideas for safer support options

We know these are not always possible, but it’s important to try and think of safer ways to get support at the moment.

  • Can any of your support be done over the phone or by video call?
  • Can group-based supports be done one-on-one instead?
  • Can group recreational activities be done at home? Consider dance sessions, singalongs, cooking activities, craft, games or puzzles.
  • Instead of shopping together, can your support worker shop for you and drop the items off to you?

Staying safe and well during COVID-19 is as much about mental health as it is physical health, so staying in touch with support workers, friends and family is important.

Workers may also have ideas about on how to help with this and remember there are plenty of other resources available to support your mental wellbeing.

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