This guidance covers both community residential services and (RIDSAS).
Hospital level services under the High and Complex Framework will be guided by the broader rules of the hospital care system.
Balancing equity and safety
As providers, the safety and wellbeing of your staff and residents are paramount.
Providers must manage the complexity of balancing the need for residents to connect with their whānau and communities to receive care and limit the risk of COVID-19 transmission for staff and residents.
Some disabled people may have underlying health conditions that make them at a higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19. People should take extra precautions to keep safe, and providers should ensure they protect staff and the people they support appropriately.
To minimise risk, some disabled people may prefer their carer to wear a mask or not to visit following exposure, even when they have tested negative.
Staying up to date with COVID-19 vaccination is by far and away the best thing we can do to protect ourselves and our families.
This includes getting a COVID-19 booster – and also a second booster if you’re eligible – as this provides further significant protection against infection from Omicron, compared to the primary course alone.
Having COVID-19 does not provide the same level of immunity as getting vaccinated. We also know that your protection from the primary course of the vaccine decreases over time.
To keep your immunity levels high, stay up to date with your vaccinations – including boosters.
Find out more about vaccinations
Mask wearing guidance
Wearing face masks help prevent the spread of infections like COVID-19 and the flu. If you visit a healthcare setting (including disability support services and disability-related residential care) but are not a patient nor healthcare worker, you must wear a mask.
It is also still good practice to continue to wear masks, particularly in places disabled people access as part of daily living.
We strongly encourage disability support work staff to continue to wear face masks in disability residential care settings, group homes and residences they visit. People can also ask their support workers to wear a mask when they come into their home. We expect providers to accommodate these requests.
Mask exemptions may still be in place for locations where people are required by law to wear face masks.
Disability providers are classified as “Persons Conducting a Business of Undertaking” (PCBUs). Under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 PCBUs have fundamental responsibilities. These are:
- the PCBU must ensure that health and safety of its workers while at work, and while carrying out the work.
- the PCBU must also ensure that the health and safety of others are not put at risk by that work.
- if there is a risk, it must eliminate that risk, or if it is unable to do so, minimise that risk.
These responsibilities means that any existing infection protection controls (IPC) should stay in place for disability services.
Further information about IPC can be found here: Infection prevention and control recommendations for health and disability care workers | Ministry of Health NZ
Personal protective equipment (PPE)
Refer to your facility’s policies and undertake an IPC risk assessment to determine the right type of PPE to wear for the care you need to provide.
See further information on the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) in healthcare.
To check if you are eligible for supply of PPE such as masks, email COVID.HealthSupplyChain@health.govt.nz
COVID-19 anti-viral medicines are available to treat eligible people with COVID-19. They can help reduce the illness of people with COVID-19 and prevent them from having to be treated in hospital.
These antiviral medicines need to be started within 5 days of symptoms starting. The eligibility criteria for them have been widened, meaning more people are now eligible for these medicines.
The medicines are prescribed by healthcare providers or may be supplied without a prescription from some pharmacists. People at risk of severe illness from COVID-19 may be able to get a prescription for an antiviral medicine from before they get sick.
- COVID-19 medicines
- Eligibility guide for COVID-19 antiviral medicines | Ministry of Health NZ
- Higher risk people
Testing positive – resources
There is information and resources available to help people who test positive to COVID-19.
COVID-19: Mental health and wellbeing resources
There is information and tools available to support your own and others’ mental wellbeing and where to get help if you need it.
Additional information for employers and employees
Operating safely – what you need to think about | WorkSafe
COVID-19 and the workplace
COVID-19 and the workplace » Employment New Zealand
Guidance for employees, employers including leave, pay entitlements and modifying employment agreements