The Coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak in Australia is posing additional risks for people with disability. You may have already faced shortages in supplies for your daily living, such as incontinence products or toilet paper. You may also be worried about what to do in case you or your primary carer become infected.
At Provider Choice we are monitoring the situation with concern. As the novel illness continues to spread globally, we feel it’s time to compile some helpful resources for you and other NDIS participants.
You can use NDIS money to protect yourself
As an NDIS participant, you can use the funding in your plan to protect yourself, your family and your support workers from Coronavirus as long as it's reasonable and necessary. For example, you could use your 'Consumables’ funding to pay for:
Face masks for yourself and family members
Face masks or protective suits for support workers who assist you
Hand sanitiser and gloves for yourself, your family, and your support workers
Consider stocking up on items you regularly buy with your NDIS funding, such as continence products.
What if my regular vendor is running out of supplies?
If you find that wholesalers are temporarily running out of stock, you can also buy the products you need in your local supermarket or pharmacy, pay upfront and get reimbursed by the NDIS later. You will likely pay a higher price when you buy your supplies in a small shop and not in bulk. Continence products tend to be manufactured out of Europe, so we expect supply to be less affected by the novel Coronavirus.
Woolworths is giving priority access to the elderly and people with disability to make sure they can restock on essential items before the crowds (see official news release). We encourage concession card holders to do their shopping during the exclusive opening hour between 7am and 8am at participating Woolworths stores.
How do I know if my plan covers Coronavirus protection?
Unsure whether you’d be eligible for Coronavirus-related funding from the NDIS? Use our free online Plan Explainer to find out how much money you can spend and what other things you can buy with your “Core Consumables” budget.
The Plan Explainer is free for everyone in the NDIS and it only takes a few seconds to turn the NDIS jargon in your plan into plain English. Try it here.
Is the NDIS doing anything else?
The Australian Government has released a Coronavirus Emergency Response Plan – a living document that it updates as required. The Plan (click here) tells you what the virus is, how it spreads and how you can stop it from spreading further.
In addition, the NDIA is creating its own Agency Pandemic Plan to protect and support people with disability during this health crisis. Check the agency’s website directly (click here) for any updates.
What if I can’t isolate myself?
If you develop symptoms such as fever or sore throat, call your local doctor or hospital and arrange for an urgent assessment.
To prevent the spread of the virus, the government recommends you isolate yourself for 14 days, which means you shouldn’t welcome any visitors at your home and stay away from public places. Anyone who usually lives with you can stay with you at home.
It can be very difficult to isolate yourself at home when you have a disability – especially if you rely on regular, hands-on care from family members or support workers. In this case, the NDIS advises you call your doctor and arrange for emergency care in a hospital or other healthcare facility.
What if my carer gets sick?
The situation can get complicated if you rely on outside care to manage you daily tasks, such as having a shower, buying groceries or cooking meals.
It could be that your support worker gets sick with the novel virus. Or, if you get sick with the coronavirus, your support worker may be unable to continue to care for you to lower the risk of contagion.
In this case, you need to call your doctor and arrange for emergency care in hospital or another healthcare setting.
I have more questions. Who can help me?
The Department of Health has set up a coronavirus emergency hotline. Call the government hotline on 1800 020 080 (24 hours a day, seven days a week).
Our plan management team at Provider Choice is always here to answer your questions during business hours in your state or territory.