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 COVID-19 boosters – if you’re eligible – as this provides further significant protection against infection from COVID-19, 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
Mask wearing remains an important way we can prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses in health and disability care settings.
The August – September 2023 national infection prevention and control (IPC) mask use guidance has been developed to provide mask use and visitor guidance for health and disability care settings during the winter peak of respiratory infections. The guidance provides the minimum recommendations for mask use for all employees, volunteers and contractors of healthcare facilities, and patients/clients and visitors of healthcare settings.
We recommend disability support work staff continue to wear face masks in disability residential care settings, group homes and residences they visit, and in places disabled people access as part of daily living. People can also ask their support workers to wear a mask when they come into their home. We expect providers to accommodate these requests.
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 mean that any existing IPC controls should stay in place for disability services.
Personal protective equipment (PPE)
IPC guidance has been developed to assist primary and community health and disability care workers in selecting the right type of PPE required for the care you need to provide, following a risk assessment for acute respiratory infections, including COVID-19. You should also refer to your facility’s PPE policy.
Standard precautions and a respiratory risk assessment are required before every interaction, and/or every session, with a patient/client or resident by the healthcare worker. When a patient/client or resident is suspected or confirmed to have a transmissible infectious disease, Transmission-based Precautions should be followed.
See further information on the use of PPE for healthcare settings.
See information on PPE and the supply of PPE from Te Whatu Ora Central Supply to healthcare workers contributing to the COVID response.
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
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