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National Disability Health Update

What you need to know

  • With the ever-present COVID-19 risk set to increase during the summer, providers should remind staff to keep up with booster shots.
  • Providers can get grants for workers who take extra leave due to COVID.
  • A new National Centre of Excellence in Intellectual Disability Health will improve health care for people with intellectual disability.
  • NDS is leading a new national Positive Health Outcomes Project to inform and support disability services and workers.

COVID-19 update

Our latest health news for the disability sector begins with the ever-present COVID-19 risk, which, according to health authorities, may increase during the summer due to more travellers coming from the northern hemisphere.

Providers should encourage any staff who have not had a COVID-19 illness or vaccination for six months or more to get a booster. People at a greater risk from a COVID-19 infection, including many people with a disability, should also be encouraged to keep up to date with vaccination.

COVID-19 booster advice

In September, the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) recommended who should get an additional COVID-19 vaccine dose:

  • All adults 75 years or older are recommended to get an additional 2023 COVID-19 dose, if six months have passed since their last vaccination.
  • After talking to their healthcare provider, the following adults should consider an additional 2023 COVID-19 dose, if it has been six months since their last dose:
    • adults 65 to 74 years
    • adults 18 to 64 years with severe immunocompromise.

All adults who have not received the COVID-19 vaccine dose they were eligible for, as defined in the ATAGI February 2023 advice, are encouraged to get one as soon as possible.

The complete COVID-19 2023 vaccination advice is available on the Australian Government’s website.

NDS COVID-19 Risk Management Resource

Our COVID-19 hub for disability providers and workers is kept updated and has the latest advice and resources to prevent infection transmission and manage outbreaks.

Disability Worker COVID-19 Leave Grant

The Disability Worker COVID-19 Leave Grant is Department of Social Services funding for NDIS providers to support workers who are unable to attend work because of a COVID-19 infection.

The second submission period is open. NDIS providers can get funding for worker leave taken between 1 July to 30 September 2023 due to a COVID-19 infection when no other leave was available. Applications are due by 6 November and you can apply and get more information on GrantConnect.

NDS Positive Health Outcomes Project

NDS is leading a national project on positive health outcomes funded by the Australian government. Through improving skills, knowledge and confidence of disability services and workers, the project addresses the poorer health of people with disabilities.

As part of the project, a round table on Quality Use of Medication was held in early October. It gathered 280 participants from disability service providers and health professionals from across Australia to discuss the challenges and barriers to safe medicine use, putting forward solutions and defining best practice.

Key themes that came out of the Round Table included:

  • Practice issues, ranging across medication storage, Schedule 4 and 8 medication, PEG feeding and medication charts and documentation.
  • Polypharmacy as significant concern, with barriers in getting regular medication reviews.
  • Challenges for participants and service providers dealing with multiple health services and medication prescribers.
  • Services needing clarity on medication management standards and guidance through the NDIS Commission or state-based legislative frameworks.
  • Need for standardised training for quality use of medication that is aligned with service provision and medication complexity and risk.

Launch of the National Centre of Excellence in Intellectual Disability Health

The National Centre of Excellence in Intellectual Disability Health was opened on 13 October by the Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care, Ged Kearney. The Centre will drive to improve access to quality and comprehensive health care for people with intellectual disability.

It will support the delivery of the Australian Government’s National Roadmap for Improving the Health of People with Intellectual Disability.

Disability Royal Commission: Health

The recent Disability Royal Commission (DRC) Report made several recommendations on improving the health care and treatment for people with disability as they interact with health systems and health workforce.

There were specific recommendations to reduce the use of psychotropics and the appropriate management of health.

Article sourced from National Disability Services