New measures for dealing with the coronavirus for NDIS participants and providers have been announced by NDIS Minister Stuart Robert, with any further changes necessary to be made as required. “We are closely monitoring for any new service gaps that might open,” he said.
The changes comprise:
- Face-to-face planning shifted to telephone meetings where possible ensuring continuity of support,
- NDIS plans to be extended up to 24 months
- Action plan to ensure NDIS participants and their families continue to receive the essential disability supports needed
- More flexibility in core vs capacity building supports
- Proactive outreach to high-risk participants.
- Financial assistance to providers including advance payments
- 10 per cent COVID-19 loading on some supports
- More generous cancellation pricing
- Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) advice and training resources.
These measures are being put in place by the Department of Social Services, National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) and the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission (NDIS Commission), working with the Department of Health and state and territory governments.
NDIS participants can contact the NDIA on: 1800 800 110 to talk to a planner, make changes to their plan or if they are having trouble sourcing services due to COVID-19.
More information about COVID-19 for NDIS participants and their families and carers is available on the NDIS website: www.ndis.gov.au
People with disability who have complex needs or run a higher risk of infection may need extra support during this time. The NDIA will be contacting targeted higher risk NDIS participants to ensure these people continue to receive the essential disability related supports they need. The NDIA will also share data with states and territories to assist them with their continuity of services and respond to people’s needs.
Information for NDIS service providers
Disability support workers should not attend work if they have a fever, symptoms of a respiratory illness, or are not vaccinated against influenza. All NDIS service providers must notify the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission of any change to delivery of their services.
More information for NDIS providers and disability support workers is available on the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission website: www.ndiscommission.gov.au. This includes provider obligations, how to reduce the risk to participants, and links to updates and resources.
The Department of Health has developed specific advice on PPE when looking after people who are confirmed to have, or suspected of having, COVID-19. Information for is available at: www.health.gov.au/covid19-resources
Further information on COVID-19, what people can do to protect themselves and people they are caring for is available at www.health.gov.au or on: 1800 020 080.
The government is also putting in place measure to give NDIS service providers financial relief, to help providers remain viable and retain their staff. Registered NDIS providers may receive a one-month advance payment based on a monthly average supports delivered in the previous three month period – to provide immediate cash flow relief.
To cover the additional costs of service delivery for existing supports, a 10 per cent COVID-19 loading will be added to price limits for certain supports for up to six months.
- Core supports (Assistance with Daily Life (excluding Supported Independent Living) and Assistance with Social and Community Participation)
- Capacity building supports (Improved Daily Living).
Additionally, increased flexibility of the NDIA’s cancellation pricing policy will allow providers to charge the full 100 per cent for the price of a cancelled service, and the definition of ‘short notice cancellation’ will also be broadened. Providers can also continue to claim for the increased use of cleaning and personal protective equipment associated with COVID-19.
Training for workers
The Department of Health has developed a free training module about infection prevention and control for support workers and disability service providers available at: covid-19training.com.au/login.php
The department has also developed a webinar on COVID-19 preparedness for in-home and community aged care. This webinar (https://publish.viostream.com/app/s-n3f4rpt) is also relevant to all providers and workers in the disability sector. Further work is underway to develop measures to source additional disability support workers to provide high quality care to NDIS participants should the need arise. This will include the upskilling of displaced workers from other industries and matching existing and new workers to areas where there is a demand for services.