COVID-19 Management Policy

BFS Covid Management Policy

Introduction

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is presenting us all with unprecedented challenges in
our daily lives and in how we do our work.

First and foremost, our BFS focus is on ensuring the health, wellbeing and safety of our
clients, and our workforce that delivers the supports and services that are critical to our
clients personal support, nutrition and hygiene.

As some states and territories start to lift restrictions put in place during the pandemic, the
risk of COVID-19 infection remains. BFS is committed to continue to meet our obligations
while protecting the health, safety and wellbeing of the NDIS clients we support.

As we operate in 3 states we utilise the information provided in the NDIS Quality &
Safeguards Commission pack, COVID-19 Information Pack, Information for NDIS
providers and workers. Issue 1, Updated July 2020

We also commit to remain updated with current COVID-19 information by visiting the NSW, Victorian and Queensland Governments information webpages.

Our Provider Obligations

The COVID-19 pandemic does not change the obligations of all NDIS providers and BFS commits to protect and prevent people with disability from experiencing harm arising from poor quality or unsafe supports, abuse, neglect and exploitation, or poorly managed changes to supports.

As a registered NDIS provider, you have obligations under the NDIS Code of Conduct and the NDIS Practice Standards, as well as our conditions of registration, that relate to the delivery of safe, quality supports and services, and the management of risks associated with the supports you provide to NDIS participants.

These risks include the possible COVID-19 infection of yourself, your workers and people you otherwise engage to deliver NDIS supports, as well as the risk of infection of NDIS participants.

As a registered disability support provider of Behaviour Support we specifically ensure compliance against the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission information provided in the document Coronavirus (COVID-19): Behaviour support and restrictive practices.

Disability support - Adapting risk management plans for COVID-19

As a provider of Disability Support we establish plans to ensure client and staff health and
safety, and continuity of support and services to clients.

Our current service delivery method is primarily via Telehealth with minimum face to face
contact with our clients. We have adapted our existing business continuity plans to prepare
for and respond to COVID-19.

We commit to notify the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commissioner of any change or
events impacting our services as a result of COVID-19.

If an event or change occcurs we will notify via (Notification of event form – COVID-19 (Registered providers)

Key factors in place:

  • Procedure to follow if COVID-19 infection is suspected in a client in a facility including a
    method for seeking medical assessment and diagnosis.
  • Protocols to rapidly implement enhanced infection control measures.
  • Ensuring adequate and appropriate care is provided to the client including their isolation
    from other clients and staff not directly involved in their care.
  • Maintaining adequate supplies of surgical gloves, masks, gowns and hand sanitiser.
  • Rapid notification for staff, families, carers, and our local Public Health Unit via 1300
    066 055.

Briefing NDIS participants about changes to their day-day activity plans

In relevant cases where we are required to brief our clients about observing changes to their day to day plans we follow the guidance provided in the Coronavirus (COVID-19): Behaviour support and restrictive practices as follows: 

1. To allow the person to exercise choice and control over decisions that affect them:

  •  Speak to them about COVID-19 and seek their input about sudden changes to their
    activities due to the measures being implemented.
  • Provide them with the right information and seek their views, as this will help you develop
    different strategies and approaches.
  • Share information about adjustments and changes that may happen because of medical isolation and/or due to the closure of services.

2. Practical guidance for NDIS participants with behaviour support needs

  • In the case of a medically directed need for isolation, review the person’s behaviour
    support plan (if they have one) for any recommendations for managing their behaviours of
    concern as well as the common triggers for their behaviour.
  • Many community access services will be affected by the measures limiting public
    gatherings. Activate a business continuity plan, such as providing alternative community
    access that complies with state or territory requirements.
  • Identify the person’s preferred modes of communication, as effective communication can
    help to reduce their anxiety about any changes that need to happen.
  • If the person does not have a behaviour support plan, draw on your existing understanding
    of their interaction and communication preferences. Or ask someone who knows them
    well, what those preferences are.
  • • Consider known triggers for the person’s behaviour of concern and put in place strategies
    to mitigate these. Some common triggers are boredom, sudden changes to routines,
    missing friends or families, and communication difficulties.
  • Implementing social distancing between the people you support and your workers may be
    challenging in certain environments. It is useful to explain to everyone the need for and
    importance of social distancing.
  • Maintaining the person’s social and family network through telephone, social media or
    videoconferencing facilities are helpful in ensuring connectedness to friends and families
    during this period of COVID-19 isolation. Some activity ideas include sharing news or
    stories using video- phone links or sending photos of themselves doing an activity or
    sharing news via the telephone.

Implementing a new regulated restrictive practice to support an NDIS participant

The following NDIS provider requirements apply when using regulated restrictive practices.

 If a new restrictive practice for an NDIS participant is identified as needed, you must facilitate steps to engage an NDIS Behaviour Support practitioner to obtain an interim behaviour support plan and a comprehensive behaviour support plan for that person.

This may require an NDIS plan review or locating an appropriate service providers. Where appropriate and available behaviour support plans can be done over the phone.

If this restrictive practice is not in accordance with a behaviour support plan and does not have current authorisation from your state or territory, it is a reportable incident to the NDIS Commission as an unauthorised restrictive practice.

Using restrictive practices as a ‘precaution’

If you isolate an NDIS participant because you are concerned about their health but there is no directive from a medical practitioner that is in line with the Commonwealth Chief Medical Officer’s advice, then this could be a regulated restrictive practice.

You should follow the Australian Government’s advice on COVID- 19 symptoms and always seek medical advice where a person’s health presents a concern.

Your workers should never make assumptions about the nature of the person’s health issue, or disregard symptoms that may relate to COVID-19.

It is not a regulated restrictive practice if there is a self-isolation order or any other direction to the community as a whole that is issued by the Australian Government Chief Medical Officer or as directed by state and territory Chief Health Officers.

Further information, alerts and resources

  • The Coronavirus (COVID-19) information webpage on the NDIS Commission website
    contains links to updates, training, alerts and other resources.
  • Contact Us – Call: 1800 035 544 (free call from landlines). Our contact centre is open
    9.00am to 4.30pm in the NT, 9.00am to 5.00pm in the ACT, NSW, QLD, SA, TAS and VIC Monday to Friday, excluding public holidays. Email: contactcentre@ndiscommission.gov.au
  • Website: www.ndiscommission.gov.au

Don MacAskill
Chief Executive Officer