NZDSN Covid-19 Update May 1st

Kia ora NZDSN Members

Another week and another level, one which brings some significant uncertainties. This has heightened the need for timely and unambiguous guidance from the Ministry of Health. Unfortunately, this has not been forthcoming across a number of critical issues. Today we outlined these in detail at a meeting with Minister Salesa whose portfolio as Associate Minister of Health includes Disability Support Services. The meeting included Ministry officials.

The Minister acknowledged our frustrations and is looking for DSS to have a more proactive approach to the content and timing of communications. Assurances were provided on a package to fund extra-ordinary costs related to the COVID-19 response. We will be keeping the Minister updated regularly at weekly meetings.

The Deputy Director general has agreed to periodically attend our weekly zoom sessions with the regional network coordinators to gain a national overview. The Minister is also keen to attend one of these sessions to talk through the tracing technology the Government is looking to introduce.

Attached here is the Briefing Note we prepared for the Minister in advance of the meeting. We included a description from one provider their journey to date with PPE to illustrate the difficulties being experienced on this particular and recurring issue. This briefing also serves as a summary of the things we are currently focused on – so this week’s update is a little shorter than usual.

Regional Zoom Sessions Summary

Attached here is a summary from last week’s Zoom sessions. 

A huge thank you to all of those participating organisations and to the coordinators for hosting and summarising the content of discussions. Some regions have now shifted to fortnightly sessions while others are continuing with weekly meetings. These are an important part of NZDSN being able to ensure we are focused on those things that matter most to members.

Family Visits and Expanding Bubbles

The delayed and ambiguous nature of guidance provided in regards to this meant that providers had to take the plunge by assessing their particular circumstances and developing approaches that balanced mitigating the multiple risks of settings that were people’s homes on the one hand and staff workplaces on the other. Quite appropriately, cautious approaches have prevailed with family visits usually by exception and with clear protocols in place. However, this has meant that providers may now have to deal with raised expectations from clients and families about visits – and thus some potentially very difficult conversations.

If you are feeling the need for some support and guidance around this or just want to have a conversation to reflect on and review your situation we are happy to offer this – contact Garth on 04 473 4678

Further Easy Read Resources from People First

Please use these to assist the people you support with accessible information about various aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic:

Presentation from Geneva’s Veronica Manion to the Epidemic Response Committee.

This session provided an excellent illustration of issues facing the sector. View the video using this link:

Flexible Approaches to Disability Support – Retaining New Innovations

MSD have now distributed the additional funding to enable providers to explore new ways of supporting people due to the closure of day programme facilities. They are compiling a summary of the approaches and practices that have emerged as a result. Some providers are reporting that this opportunity has opened up some exciting possibilities that they will want to retain as an ongoing part of their service provision. This summary will be available soon.

This is one example of how the current process has introduced new flexibility from funders and spurred innovation from providers. It will be important that we retain momentum around these developments as we emerge from the crisis – and expand them.

Rolling out Flexible Disability Support (FDS) contracts nationally has never looked like such an obvious and practical thing to do!

Kia tu tahi tatou
From the NZDSN Team