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People with disability and carers

Everybody is at risk of getting coronavirus (COVID-19). For most people, they will only develop mild illness and recover easily, but others may develop severe sickness that affects the lungs.

People with disability may be impacted more significantly by COVID-19 especially if they have underlying medical conditions. This information is for people with disability, their friends, families, carers and support workers.

Specific information for service providers, workers and volunteers providing disability services to people with disability in Queensland is available.

Why is COVID-19 dangerous for people with disability?

People with disability may be more vulnerable to COVID-19 especially when they:

  • have a compromised immune system
  • aged 70 years and over
  • First Nations people aged 50 years and over
  • living in supported accommodation or group residential settings.

Information for people with disability

Where can I find accessible resources?

The Australian Government has easy read coronavirus resources for people with disability:

The Queenslanders with Disability Network also have accessible information on COVID-19, self-quarantine and tips on how to stay safe and healthy.

What should I do if I feel sick?

If you feel unwell, call the doctor or 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84) to ask what to do next.

Can I leave my house?

You should stay home as much as possible. You can leave your house for:

  • essential shopping (e.g. groceries)
  • medical appointments
  • getting necessary exercise or to walk the dog.

If you need advice and support to help you plan your stay at home:

For more information on how you can protect yourself while staying at home, download the QDN practical guide and planning template.

How can I get food?

When you are at home for a long time, ask your friends and family to bring food for you. Stay at least 1.5 metres away from them when they arrive.

It may be necessary to use online food delivery when you are staying home.

If you are staying at home and cannot get food, you can call the Community Recovery Hotline on 1800 173 349 for assistance.

How can I get medical help or order prescriptions from home?

People with disability may get very sick if their regular health care services and appointments are stopped.

Many doctors are now using phone and video calls to replace face-to-face appointments. Please call your doctor to discuss your options.

The Australian Government has provided funding, so you can see your doctor and get your medicines from home. For more information, visit the Australian Government’s website.

If your local hospital is the Logan or Ipswich hospital you can trial the Julian’s Key Health Passport. The passport helps address communication barriers and improve health experiences of people with disability accessing health services.

Should I avoid visitors?

In Queensland there are restrictions on the number of people you should have in your home. These limits do not apply to carers, support workers or other people who provide essential services to you.

How can I protect myself if I share a house with others?

If you live in supported accommodation or a group home, use prevention measures and take these extra actions where you can to help live safely together:

  • Place seating in shared areas or common areas, 1.5 metres apart and limit the time people are together in enclosed spaces.
  • Plan with the people you live with on keeping safe distances from each other. Consider where you spend most of your time in the house and your daily activity.
  • Plan how to keep surfaces clean and how to support each other with meal preparation, laundry and house cleaning. Read and print these 3 steps for household cleaning.

What to do if your carer gets sick?

If your family member, friend or carer helping you gets sick and can’t care for you, or you need extra help, call your regular service provider and tell them you need help. If you don’t have a regular service provider, call the Community Recovery Hotline on 1800 173 349.

The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) have made changes to how people with disability with an NDIS plan can access the supports they need. Visit the NDIS website or call the NDIA on 1800 800 110.

Where can I access support?

If you need further assistance you can contact:

  • the Disability Information Helpline on 1800 643 787
  • Queensland Health on 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84) for health-related advice, questions and support.
  • TTY if you have a hearing, visual and/or speech impairment. Dial 133 677. You can also use National Relay Services to call 000 in an emergency.

Additional information about COVID-19 including updates and support is available from:

Looking after your mental wellbeing

Many people are worried about COVID-19. People are scared and upset. If you feel like this you need to look after your mental health. Visit the Council for Intellectual Disability website for support.

Information for carers

Can I leave home to care for someone?

As a carer, support worker or volunteer you are providing an essential service. Care and support should be still delivered to care recipients. It is vitally important during this unprecedented time that continuity of service by providers is maintained and that we all stay connected.

If you are providing informal support, you can continue to do so as long as you follow the guidelines for social distancing.

What do I do if I feel sick?

If you are a paid support worker you must not go and provide care and must alert your employer in the following circumstances:

  • if you have returned from overseas in the last 14 days
  • if you have been in contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19
  • if you have a fever, or you have any symptoms of respiratory illness (e.g. cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, runny nose or nasal congestion)
  • if you are in a group who are considered vulnerable to more serious infection (including those aged 70 years and over, those aged 65 years and older with a chronic illness, or those who are Indigenous and aged 50 years or older).

If you are providing care for a friend or family member, you should not provide care if you are unwell.  If you provide informal support to a person with disability and you are sick call the Community Recovery Hotline 1800 173 349 for help.

How can I help prevent the spread of coronavirus?

Avoiding exposure is the single most important way to prevent the spread of COVID-19. To protect those in your care use the following actions.

  • Practise and follow these general prevention measures.
  • Depending on your exposure, wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • If you are not undertaking direct care duties, maintain a distance of 1.5 metres from care recipients or clients.
  • You should regularly use standard precautions for preventing infection at all times such as hand hygiene before and after any physical contact.

How can I get training in infection control?

Carers and support workers can access free online training about infection control for COVID-19 to reduce your risk, and your client or loved one’s risk of infection.

What steps can I take to ensure a group living home is safe?

The QDN practical guide has information and a planning template that carers can use to help people with disability plan for staying at home for a long period, or if someone who supports them gets COVID-19.

Should I get an influenza vaccination?

Eligible individuals get the vaccine for free under the National Immunisation Program (NIP). Being vaccinated against influenza will not only provide protection for yourself but also an additional layer of protection for those receiving care who are more vulnerable to serious complications from influenza. Visit the Australian Government Flu (influenza) vaccination service for more information.

Additional resources for carers