People with disability: Information about COVID-19

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19, sometimes called coronavirus, is a virus that has affected many people around the world. The virus can spread quickly from one person to another which is why is it called a pandemic.

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

Some people with disability could have more serious complications if they were to become infected with COVID-19, depending on the nature of their disability and other medical history.

Why are people with disability at risk of COVID-19?

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

  • have high support needs and cannot physically distance
  • have pre-existing health conditions such as a respiratory condition, a compromised immune system, heart disease or diabetes
  • face challenges in accessing healthcare information
  • have a disruption to their regular medication and services
  • 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.

These factors can 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.

Video resources

Getting tested for COVID-19

Hi – I’m Alex and I want to help you understand what it means if you need to get tested for COVID-19. You might have heard people talk about coronavirus. In these videos, COVID-19 means the same thing.

Getting tested for COVID-19 is very important so that we can find any people that have COVID-19 and stop it from spreading.

If you feel sick with a fever, scratchy or sore throat, cough, a runny nose, feeling short of breath, fatigues, loss of taste or sense of smell, diarrhoea, vomiting or nausea, you should get tested for COVID-19.

Stay home and call your doctor or call 13 HEALTH.

They will tell you if you need to get tested.

You can choose where and when it suits you, your carer or family member to get tested.

You can get tested in your car at a drive through clinic, at your doctor, at a fever clinic or hospital. You can even ask to be tested at home.

You must only leave your home when you need to get tested. You must not go anywhere else before getting your test or after getting your test.

You can take a carer or support person with you. This may help you feel more relaxed.

If you have any COVID-19 symptoms you should wear a mask to your appointment.

If you do not have a mask, the place where you get tested can give you one.

If you are deaf or hard of hearing, let the person testing you know this by writing it on a piece of paper or typing on your phone. You can ask to be given all information in writing.

An interpreter, such as an AUSLAN interpreter, can also be organised to help you communicate with the person testing you.

It is free to have a COVID-19 test. It helps the nurse if you can bring your Medicare card with you.

The test for COVID-19 is very quick. It only takes a couple of seconds, but it might feel a bit uncomfortable.

When you go to get tested, staff might ask you some questions and check your temperature.

You may also be asked to clean your hands with hand sanitiser.

The staff will be wearing gowns, gloves and masks to keep everyone healthy.

If you do not like being touched or are feeling stressed, let the doctor or nurse know.

The doctor or nurse will put a swab on a thin stick in the back of your throat and inside one or both sides of your nose.

The swab is then put in a tube and sent to a place with a machine that can test for COVID-19.

You should get your test results within a few days after your test. You will get your results by text message or a phone call.

After being tested you will have to stay at home and away from other people. This is called self-isolating. There is another video you can watch that tells you how to self-isolate. But if you are very sick, the doctor may decide you need to go to hospital.

So remember, if you have any COVID-19 symptoms, call your doctor and they will tell you what to do.

How to self-isolate during COVID-19

Hello – I’m Alex and I want to help you understand what you need to do if you have a test for COVID-19 and need to self-isolate.

You might have heard people talk about coronavirus. In these videos, COVID-19 means the same thing.

Self-isolating means staying away from other people. This will help stop the spread of COVID-19.

When you are waiting for your COVID-19 test result, you must stay at home and self-isolate.

Only leave your home to go to the doctor or hospital, or because of an emergency.

You can continue to receive the supports you need – this includes support services that keep you physically and mentally healthy.

Call your service provider and let them know you are waiting for your COVID-19 test results so they can make plans. These people can come into your home but should stay at least 1.5 metres away from you if possible.

The people who care for you should wear a mask, gown, gloves and eye wear or a face shield when they come to your house.

You cannot have any other visitors apart from people providing essential support while you are self-isolating, and you should stay away from other people who live in your house.

Try to stay in the one room most of the time and use a separate bathroom to other people you live with, if you can.

Make sure you clean things you eat with, drink from or touch.

Ask someone to bring your food, medicine and other necessary items to your front door or to your room if you live with other people.

If you need help with this, call your service provider or the Community Recovery Hotline on 1800 173 349.

If you become very sick while you are self-isolating, call your doctor or an ambulance on 000. Let them know you are waiting for your COVID-19 test results.

What happens if my test is negative? A negative test result means that you do not have COVID-19. But you should still stay home until you feel better and your symptoms have gone away.

If you feel sick with COVID-19 symptoms again, you may need to get another COVID-19 test.

If you have been in contact with someone with COVID-19, you might need to stay at home or get another COVID-19 test to make sure you don’t get sick.

What happens if my test is positive? A positive test result means that you have COVID-19. If you get a positive test result, someone from the Public Health Unit will call you and help you understand what to do next. They will ask you questions about your health and your symptoms. They will also ask you about who you have seen lately, where you have been, and what support you need.

You will have to isolate at home until you have no symptoms. This means you don’t leave your home.

If you are very sick, you may need to go to hospital. There is another video you can watch about what it is like to go to hospital during COVID-19.

If you receive supports through the NDIS, please call your service providers.

If you have COVID-19, the people you live with will also have to be tested and stay home for 14 days.

If there is an emergency, you should still contact an ambulance on 000. But when you call, you should let them know that you have tested positive for COVID-19 so they can make plans to keep everyone healthy.

Going to the hospital during COVID-19

Hi – I’m Alex and I want to help you understand what it means if you need to go to the hospital during COVID-19.

You might have heard people talk about coronavirus. In these videos, COVID-19 means the same thing.

If you need to go to hospital, you might see that things are a bit different because of COVID-19.

When you arrive at a hospital you may be asked some questions and have your temperature checked.

You may be asked to wear a mask and use some hand sanitiser to clean your hands.

If you can’t wear a mask, you may be able to wear a face shield.

You may see that some of the doctors and nurses are wearing gowns, masks, face shields and gloves. These changes are to keep everyone safe from COVID-19.

When you come to hospital it is helpful to bring information about yourself. You could bring a disability health passport such as ‘Julian’s Key’ or a list of your medications, health conditions or other important information.

If you are deaf or hard of hearing, you can ask to have information written down for you or you can get a ‘Hospital Kit’ from Better Hearing Australia.

You can have a family member, carer or support person with you when you go to hospital.

Call the hospital before you go and let them know who is coming with you.

The rules about who can visit you in hospital change often during COVID-19. Make sure you check on the hospital website or phone the hospital and ask someone for the latest rules.

Doctors and nurses will ask you questions when you come to hospital – about how you are feeling, how you like to communicate, if you are an NDIS participant and what supports you usually have.

They will also ask you questions about where you have been recently to check if you have been in the same place where someone who is positive for COVID-19 has also been at the same time.

Nurses and doctors might need to do tests like taking your temperature or checking your blood pressure. If you have any questions or are feeling confused, you can ask the doctor or nurse to explain what they are doing and why.

When you are in hospital, a doctor might give you medicine or other treatments that you have not had before. If you do not understand what the treatments are for or you have any questions, ask your nurse or doctor. They are happy to explain things to you.

Your doctor or nurse will talk to you about going home. They will tell you about any steps you need to follow when you get home.

Remember - you can ask as many questions as you like.

You can also ask to have information written down so you can look at it later or give it to your family member or support worker.

You also have the right to tell the hospital if you have any suggestions, compliments or complaints about the care you received. You can ask hospital staff the best way to do this.

COVID-19 Essentials: Queensland Disability Network

Learn about COVID-19, staying well and what to do if you or your carer becomes sick.

Duration 0:02:39

Coronavirus and my disability support

Hi. I’m Paige.

At Queenslanders with Disability Network, QDN, we know that people with disability are hearing lots of news and information about Coronavirus also known as COVID-19. We know that this is causing worry and anxiety and people are feeling confused and anxious.

Everyone has different needs and different circumstances. Many people have support needs that mean we need to have contact with other people. For those people, those support needs are essential for their day to day lives.

Government, providers and people with disability in Queensland are working together to put arrangements in place so that people can get the essential supports they need. It is good for us all to be talking to our family, friends, neighbours and service providers about what we can do to help each other out.

If you and your support workers are well – then you don’t need to cancel the support you need. Everyone needs to follow the guidelines about washing hands, covering sneezes and coughs and avoiding unnecessary close contact with each other. No hugs, handshakes or kisses.

If you feel unwell and have symptoms of coronavirus call your Doctor or call 13 Health. Their number is 13 43 25 84. If you are seriously unwell, call 000 for an ambulance.

If your paid support worker gets sick, call your service provider. If you are an NDIS participant and your service isn’t answering your call, call the NDIA.

The Community Recovery Hotline is now open to help people who have been told to stay at home and don’t have anyone to help them get essential food and medication. Their number is 1800 173 349.

Red Cross teams are also calling people who have been told to stay home in quarantine to make sure people are coping well and have what they need.  Keep up to date with information on Queensland Health website You can also call QDN on 1300 363 783. You can also go to QDN’s website

And remember we are all in this together.

Easy read documents Helpful 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 COVID-19 information for NDIS participants.

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What can I do to prepare?

Think about essential supports you need and consider the services you can't live without.  Talk to your service providers and health professionals to develop a plan to ensure your own personal health and safety over the coming months.

You can make your own ‘Emergency Preparedness Plan’ using the Queensland Disability Network’s individual planning tool for COVID-19, available in accessible formats. The plan will help you to prepare for staying at home for a long period of time, and prepare for what to do if you, or your carer, have COVID-19 symptoms.

If you are sick, stay home and if you have cold or flu like symptoms get tested. In Queensland anyone who has any COVID-19 symptoms should call their doctor or call 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84) to find out where to get a test.

What if I feel sick and need to be tested?

It is important that all Queenslanders are tested for COVID-19 if they are experiencing symptoms, especially vulnerable cohorts. During periods of increased community risk, there can be long wait times at testing clinics creating a barrier to access for people with disability. Please find below options available to people with disability that require a booked testing appointment or an alternative testing arrangement. Call emergency services on 000 if you are very sick.

  1. Call Your Doctor

    Your doctor may be able to offer a testing option. Call ahead so your doctor can be prepared. You doctor can also discuss other testing options with you.

  2. Respiratory Clinics

    Respiratory clinics only accept booked appointments and are free for everyone including children. You do not need a Medicare card to attend. Find your nearest clinic and book your appointment via HotDoc or call 1800 022 222.

  3. Fever Clinics

    Some fever clinics will allow you to book an appointment. Find a fever clinic that accepts bookings by filtering by “online booking available”. Online bookings can also be made by a parent or carer. Download the fact sheet on how to use the online booking system (PDF).

  4. COVID-19 Test at Home

    If you are unable to leave your home for a test, your doctor can arrange for a COVID-19 test at home with one of the private pathology providers, including QML Pathology, Sullivan & Nicolaides Pathology, or Mater. The availability for in home testing will be dependent on demand and arrangements for in home testing need to be made by your doctor.

If the above COVID-19 testing options are not viable options due to a person’s disability specific support needs, please contact 134 COVID (134 268) to discuss alternative arrangements.

You can find advice on how to explain the testing process to a person with disability (PDF). You can also watch the video ‘Getting tested for COVID-19’ with transcript on this page.

Call emergency services on 000 if you are very sick.

Easy read fact sheet: Testing for coronavirus (COVID-19).

Blog: Everything you ever wanted to know about testing for coronavirus (COVID-19) in Queensland

Find your nearest testing centre.

Where can I go during COVID-19?

You are still allowed to go into the community at this time and this may involve the following: attending medical treatment, exercising, meeting a friend for a coffee and going out to work. It’s important to look after yourself as per usual. Please remember to socially distance when outside, try to leave a gap of 1.5 metres between you and others where possible and avoid public gatherings.

There are rules that limit gatherings in the community to a maximum of 10 people. 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 to protect themselves. If you need advice and support to help you plan your stay at home:

What if I am entering Queensland and need support to quarantine?

If you are entering Queensland from overseas or a COVID-19 hotspot, you are required to quarantine. If you have specific health care needs, the specialist COVID-19 Health care Support Service can help you and is supported by nurses, doctors, social worker, paramedics and representatives from other Queensland government departments.

To access the Health care Support Service, call 134 COVID (13 42 68) and select option 3.

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 or other healthcare professionals to discuss your options.

The Australian Government has also provided funding to get your medicines delivered to your home from your regular pharmacy. 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.

Can I have 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, where possible, if you have 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 a home with other people, use prevention measures where you can:

  • Put chairs in shared areas 1.5 metres apart. Limit the time people are together in one space.
  • Think about where you spend most of your time in the house and your daily activity. Plan with the people you live with how you can keep safe distances from each other.
  • Plan how to keep surfaces clean. Support each other with meal preparation, laundry and house cleaning. Read and print these 3 steps (PDF) for household cleaning.

What to do if your support person gets sick?

If your support person feels unwell, they should call a doctor or 134 COVID (134 268) to ask what to do next.

Your support person will not be able to work while they are waiting for their test results – this could take a few days. During this time, your support person should arrange for someone else to meet your support needs. You can also call your service provider to discuss what your options are.

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.

If you don’t have a regular service provider, call the Community Recovery Hotline on 1800 173 349.

Where can I access support?

If you need more help you can contact:

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

Looking after your mental wellbeing

There may be times 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.

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

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.