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Tasmanian disability workers testing positive to COVID, prompting ‘grave concerns’ for clients | The Examiner


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Disability support organisations are “gravely concerned” about the impact of COVID-19 on clients as positive cases among support workers continue to emerge in Tasmania. Public Health advice prevents people from working in the sector if they are COVID-positive, while they must also quarantine if deemed a close contact under the latest definition. In a statement, peak industry body National Disability Services said there were concerns in Tasmania about organisations not having adequate workforce to cover services for clients as a result. “Providers will take precautions when positive cases in the workforce are confirmed, but there is anxiety about having sufficient workforce to provide services as a result,” the statement reads. READ MORE: One-in-50 Tasmanians could get COVID within a week, Public Health says NDS Tasmanian state committee chair Mark Jessop said organisations were reporting cases of COVID among staff, creating further concerns. He said there was also a lack of access to testing, including providers trying to access rapid antigen tests for two weeks with “limited success”. “Like aged care – people with disability are some of the most vulnerable Tasmanians and all providers are gravely concerned about how COVID will impact their clients,” he said. Each provider has a COVID plan, but there was uncertainty about the ability to continue ongoing care should large numbers of workers test positive, or be required to quarantine. READ MORE: Launceston homeless shelter shut for days over COVID case Tasmanian disability advocate Jane Wardlaw said there was a sense that the disability sector had been “forgotten” during the pandemic, particularly in recent months. “We’ve got the scenario where if you live with significant disability and your team has contracted the virus – even if they say Omicron isn’t as severe – what is the plan? Who still comes in for care for us?” she said. “Those of us with significant and complex needs have certain requirements. Not anyone willy-nilly will be able to just pick up your care plan.” The NDS stated that relocating people with disability to hospital or other facilities would be considered on “a case-by-case basis”. READ MORE: Hillcrest Primary student released from hospital after recovering from tragedy Ms Wardlaw said there was extreme anxiety throughout the sector – for clients, families and workers. “Decisions are being made that seem to be on the run all the time without actually speaking with the sector, and speaking with leading people with the lived experience with disability,” she said. “We need better planning, they need to consult with us – people with disability and the sector – about what is it that we need to have in place so that your workers can still remain, so there’s as minimal interruption to your day as possible. “That’s why so many people are scared – not just about getting sick, but what will happen to our care?” Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content:

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