People with disability and carers

Below you will find links to the latest updates, advice, facts and resources about COVID-19. This information is for people with disability, their families, carers, support workers and friends; as well as the disability services sector.

Everybody is at risk of getting coronavirus (COVID-19). Most people will only develop mild illness and recover. Others may develop severe sickness that affects the lungs.

COVID-19 may have a more significant effect on people with disability. This is especially true if they have underlying medical conditions.

If you provide a service to people with disability, see information for service providers, workers and volunteers.

As restrictions are easing, see the latest information and FAQs for Queenslanders.

Why is COVID-19 dangerous for people with disability?

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

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

Some people with disability may be at an increased risk because they:

  • have high support needs and higher rates of pre-existing health conditions
  • live in group residential settings, increasing their risk of catching the disease
  • may face barriers in accessing healthcare and information. As well as disruptions to regular medication and services.

These factors may make people with disability more susceptible to contracting the virus. They can also experience more severe symptoms, which may lead to a higher chance of fatality.

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 (QDN) also have accessible information:

The Access Easy English website contains useful resources on hygiene, cleaning and personal protective equipment (PPE).

The NDIS website also provides Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information for NDIS participants.

What if I am sick?

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

Where can I go during COVID-19?

The rules around leaving your home are relaxing and you can now go out for more activities. To find out the latest information, check the Queensland Government website.

Some people with disability may still choose to stay at home as much as possible. If you need advice and support to help you plan your stay at home:

Can I get medical help or order prescriptions from home?

If you stop your regular health care services and appointments, you are more at risk of getting sick.

Phone and video calls can now replace some face-to-face appointments. Please call your doctor to discuss your options.

The Australian Government has also provided funding to get your medicines from home. For more information read the Home Medicines Service (PDF).

You can also use the Julian’s Key Health Passport, a tool to communicate your healthcare and support needs with health staff when you attend a hospital.

A trial of Julian’s Key is taking place in Logan and Ipswich Hospitals, but the Passport can be used in any hospital. However, if you use it in a hospital not involved in the trial, health staff might not know about the tool. You might need to explain its purpose to them.

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. It is important to practice physical distancing if you have any other visitors.

To find out the latest information, check the Queensland Government website.

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 where you can:

  • Place seating in shared areas or common areas, 1.5 metres apart. 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. 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 carer feels unwell, they should call a doctor or 13HEALTH (13 43 25 84) to ask what to do next.

If your family member, carer or friend helping you gets sick, you may 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 a NDIS plan can access support. Visit the NDIS website or call the NDIA on 1800 800 110.

Where can I access support?

If you need more help you can contact:

  • the Disability Information Helpline on 1800 643 787
  • Queensland Health on 13HEALTH (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 including to call 000 in an emergency.

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

Looking after your mental wellbeing

There may be time when you feel worried, scared or upset about COVID-19. This is normal. You may also feel isolated if you are spending less time with family, friends or your support network. Now, more than ever, it’s important to look after your mental wellbeing.

The Council for Intellectual Disability has easy-read resources to support mental health. The Australian Government also has many helpful resources at Head-to-Health.

Beyond Blue has trained counsellors available to offer you support 24/7. Visit the website or call 1800 512 348.

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 vital to maintain continuity of service and that we all stay connected.

If you are providing informal support, you must follow the guidelines for social distancing.

Information for families provides guidance to support people with intellectual or developmental disability.

What if I am sick?

If you feel unwell, call a doctor or 13HEALTH (13 43 25 84) to ask what to do next. Queensland is now testing people for COVID-19 with any cold or flu symptoms. View information on where and how to get tested.

If you are a paid support worker, you must not provide care. You must also 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 any symptoms of respiratory illness – such as a cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, runny nose, nasal congestion, loss of taste and loss of smell.
  • if you have tested for COVID-19 and not received your results
  • if you are in a group who are more vulnerable to serious infection. This includes those:
    • aged 70 years or older
    • aged 65 years or older with a chronic illness
    • 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 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:

  • practice and follow these general prevention measures
  • depending on your exposure, wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • except for direct care duties, maintain a distance of 1.5 metres from care recipients or clients
  • always use standard precautions for preventing infection – such as hand hygiene before and after any physical contact.

How can I get training for infection control?

Carers and support workers can access free online training. Infection control education may help to reduce the risk of getting COVID-19.

What is best practice to prevent the spread of COVID-19?

The best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is to follow these steps:

  • social distancing (1.5 metres or two big steps) where possible
  • increasing hygiene by washing your hands often and avoiding shaking hands
  • staying home if you are sick
  • getting tested if you have any symptoms of being unwell – such as scratchy throat, loss of taste, cough, cold, fever, or flu symptoms
  • install the COVID Safe App on client’s phones to assist with tracking, tracing and rapid response
  • develop COVID Safe business plans with each client – you can use the QDN resources for this.

Should I get an influenza vaccination?

It is important that you get the 2020 flu vaccination as soon as it is available from your doctor or pharmacy. Being vaccinated against influenza will help protect yourself and those receiving your care. This is beneficial as they are more vulnerable to serious complications from influenza.

Eligible individuals get the vaccine for free under the National Immunisation Program (NIP). Visit the Australian Government Flu (influenza) vaccination service for more information.

More resources for carers