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NDIS Quality and Safeguarding Updates

Get up to date with the latest quality and safeguarding developments here!

By Jessica Quilty

Updated 15 Apr 202422 Apr 2020

NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission Updates

As you will be aware, the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission (NDIS Commission) is putting out frequent updates and newsletters to providers. Info is coming out thick and fast and I know myself I find it difficult when I have read something but cannot easily locate it… So here is a run-down on the most recent correspondence in case you’ve had the same problem finding stuff.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

24th March: Information for support workers and access to Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) - Includes information about using and sourcing PPE.

31st March: Information for providers on the use of PPE - This fact sheet provides an update to the access to PPE information that was released on the 24th March. It includes when PPE should be used, how requests for PPE are prioritised and an update on the current availability of PPE in Australia.

Financial Assistance

26th March: Assistance for organisations - This alert provides a summary of Australian Government measures and financial assistance available to businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

9th April 2020: Further assistance for organisations, people and households – This is an update to the provider alert from the 26th March and details the additional financial support measures for organisations during the COVID-19 pandemic. It also includes new Australian Government financial support measures to assist individuals and households.

You can also find our recent article on the JobKeeper Payment here.

Guidelines for Adhering to New Requirements

31st March: Supporting providers to respond – This alert outlines:

  • The impact on Participant activities as a result of limitations on public gatherings.
  • The requirement for organisations to continue with critical supports and services while complying with state and territory Orders.
  • An update on PPE.
  • Guidance on supporting people with behaviour support needs while restrictions on community movement are in force.
  • The NDIS Commissions’ regulatory response.

 3rd of April: Adjusting supports and reducing infection risk - This provider alert states that in response to current social distancing guidance and restrictions on group activities, providers should make changes to their services in consultation with Participants and support people. Key points include:

  • Where supports can be delivered virtually, providers should facilitate this.
  • Where supports involve groups of people congregating, and social distance requirements cannot be met, they should be changed to comply with state and territory orders. This does not include residential arrangements.
  • Where activities involve community access that are not consistent with state and territory restrictions, they should be adjusted.
  • Alternatives to day activities should be put in place within a person’s home, with social distancing measures in place. If this moves you into a new support category that you are not registered for, you can contact the NDIS Commission.
  • Where possible, redeploy staff who may have been working on services that have changed into support activities that meet state and territory requirements. Where this cannot occur, explore options for collaborating with other providers in the local area who have staff shortages.
  • If you provide critical supports that are key to the health, wellbeing and safety of a person with disability in living their daily life, take all actions and contingency management strategies necessary to ensure the continued provision of those supports.

This alert also shares the innovative changes that NDIS providers are making to the delivery of supports and services to manage risks associated with COVID-19 to continue to support NDIS Participants.

Behaviour Support and Restrictive Practice

31st March: Behaviour Support and Restrictive Practice - This fact sheet provides information to assist NDIS providers to better understand behaviour support and restrictive practices in the current environment. Key points include:

  • Current advice from the Commonwealth Chief Medical Officer is that people confirmed as having COVID-19 must be isolated.
  • Everyone must adhere to the measures limiting public gatherings. Information on this can be found on the Australian Government Coronavirus (COVID-19) webpage.
  • Isolating an NDIS Participant based on medical advice that is consistent with the Commonwealth Chief Medical Officer, and/or preventing that person from public gatherings that are currently limited, is NOT considered an NDIS Commission regulated restrictive practice.
  • Any practice that is inconsistent with the Australian Government Chief Medical Officer’s advice or directions from state and territory governments regarding COVID-19 may be an environmental restraint or seclusion.
  • If you are implementing a new restrictive practice, you must facilitate steps to engage an NDIS Behaviour Support practitioner to obtain an interim behaviour support plan.

Make sure you read and get across the different scenarios and if you aren’t sure check with the Commission.

Influenza

 2nd April: Practice Alert: Influenza (flu) vaccine from mid-April 2020 - This practice alert identifies that Australia is heading into the flu season which is expected to overlap with the current COVID-19 pandemic. Resources are available on the Australian Government Department of Health website that provides information to the community about getting vaccinated against the flu in 2020. The Commission advises that flu vaccinations are critical to reduce the risk of serious health issues for many people with disability. Providers supporting people to access flu vaccinations should arrange for these to be administered during mid to late April 2020.

Management and Operational Plan for People with Disability

20th April: Management and Operational Plan for People with Disability - On 16 April 2020, National Cabinet agreed to release the Management and Operational Plan for COVID-19 for People with Disability (the Plan). This alert explains what the Plan is and why it is important for NDIS Participants. Key points include:

  • The Australian Health Sector Emergency Response Plan for Novel Coronavirus guides the Australian health sector response. This new management and operational plan focuses on people with disability.
  • The Plan identifies risk factors that may lead some people with disability to suffer more serious negative health outcomes from COVID-19.
  • The Plan also sets out the roles and responsibilities for protecting the health of people with disability from COVID-19 infection.
  • The Australian Government Department of Health will oversee the Plan’s implementation.

April Newsletter

This newsletter summarises a lot of the above and advises providers about:

 The NDIS Commission concluding with what is to come (some of which has since been released):

 

Notification of event form – COVID-19

Notwithstanding your usual reporting requirements the NDIS Commission requires you to report the following COVID-19 related events:

Any event (being impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak) that significantly affects your ability to comply with any of the conditions of registration under section 73F of the NDIS Act including:

  • events which extensively limit your ability to comply with the NDIS Practice Standards
  • events which seriously impair your ability to effectively conduct your operations and deliver ongoing supports or services to NDIS Participants.

The impact of COVID-19 that adversely affects access, by a person with disability, to the supports or services you are registered to provide:

  • a decision for you to not accept, on a temporary or permanent basis, new Participants for supports or services that you are registered to provide;
  • a significant adverse change in wait times for the provision of supports or services to Participants that you are registered to provide;
  • a significant shortfall in available workers to provide the supports or services you are registered to provide;
  • the cessation, on a temporary or permanent basis, of the provision of supports or services that you are registered to provide.
  • a worker's confirmed COVID-19 infection;
  • a Participant's confirmed COVID-19 infection.

 Any changes to the scale of your operations:

  • a significant increase or decrease in the number of Participants being provided with a support or service as a result of staff losses due to infection or Participant cancellations due to infection;
  • a decrease in staff that is unexpected and/or to an extent that you are unable to provide continuity of services or supports to the NDIS Participants who currently receive such services or supports from you.

Any enquiries regarding this form can be directed to the NDIS Commission:

Email: [email protected]

Telephone: 1800 035 544

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

The NDIS Commission now has a page for FAQs that covers:

And of course so does the NDIA.

Grant open

A restricted competitive grant is open through the Support for NDIS Providers Program for Supporting NDIS Participants with Swallowing Difficulties.

The grant opportunity is designed to improve the quality and safety of supports provided:

  • by NDIS providers and workers who are most likely to be providing mealtime supports; and
  • to NDIS Participants who are at risk of death related to swallowing difficulties, including choking.

This grant opportunity is for the development and delivery of tools and resources to better enable NDIS providers to comply with NDIS registration requirements relating to mealtime management, swallowing and choking. This grant relates directly to the NDIS Commission’s published actions in response to the University of New South Wales' research on the 'Causes and contributors to deaths of people with disability in Australia' (see  www.ndiscommission.gov.au/news-media/research-deaths-people-disability). The Commission has made it clear that the grant is only open to professional bodies, research organisations and/or academic institutions that have extensive subject matter expertise and experience in this area.

Disability Royal Commission emergency planning response issues paper

The Disability Royal Commission released an Issues Paper on the 15th April on emergency planning and response for people with disability. The paper acknowledges that Australia is currently in the midst of an unprecedented emergency with the COVID-19 pandemic, following the summer bushfire crisis. People with disability can be severely affected by emergencies and may be at a higher risk of experiencing violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation at these times. The purpose of this Issues Paper is to invite information from the public on emergency planning and response.

The key issues include:

  • Accessibility of information
  • Access to essential supports and services
  • Access to food and nutrition
  • Access to health care
  • Housing
  • Income security
  • Domestic and family violence
  • Reduced safeguards and oversight
  • Community participation and isolation

The Royal Commission encourages responses from individuals and organisations to the issues paper by 17 July 2020, although submissions will also be accepted after that date.

Disability Information Helpline

The Disability Information Helpline provides information and referrals for people with disability who need help because of COVID-19, it can also assist families, carers, and support workers.

The helpline is available Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm (AEST) and Saturday and Sunday 9am to 7pm (AEST). It is not available on national public holidays.

People with disability and their support people can call the helpline if:

  • a support worker has not turned up
  • a provider has stopped services
  • it's hard to get food, groceries, medications or other essential items
  • someone close has symptoms of coronavirus
  • they are feeling really upset
  • anything else is worrying them.

Team DSC CODIV-19 Resources

In case you missed it Team DSC have been working hard to develop a bunch of resources to support you through these tough times including:

Quality Management System Pandemic Checklist

COVID-19 Resources and Policy for People Disability and Providers

How to Suspend Group Services and Keep People Safe

Pandemic Business Continuity Checklist  

COVID-19 in Disability Accommodation

Essential Personalised Information Tool

Guide to Developing a Business Continuity Plan

Authors

Jessica Quilty

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