NZDSN Covid-19 Update May 8th

Kia ora NZDSN Members

As we head towards the possibility of Alert level 2 early next week we are still waiting on information and guidance that is overdue. This was discussed in today’s meeting with Minister Salesa, along with more recent concerns. We also conveyed the sectors priorities going forward as we emerge from the COVID-19 crisis and our expectations for budget 2020 – which centre on the need to retain and extend the flexibility and higher trust approaches that have emerged during this crisis – and that will need a sustainable funding platform to be embedded in the longer term.

Decisions about the reimbursement of COVID-19 related costs and the prospects of anything for the sector in the upcoming budget, while separate processes, are taken over by the budget timetable next week.

Our Briefing Note to the Minister is attached here:

In this Update:

· Contract variation letters for surety of funding
· PPE Disability Specific Guidelines
· Level 2 Guidance
· Workforce Recruitment
· Free Contact Tracing App for Employers
· Regional Network Zoom Meetings
· Survey 3 – “How life is going for the disability community”
· Further COVID -19 Resources and Guidance

Contract variation letters for surety of funding

These caused a great deal of confusion and apprehension and was a consistent theme raised in this week’s regional network Zoom sessions. We asked that revised letters be sent out that made the intent of the agreement clearer or at the very least an email clarifying the main areas of concern and acknowledging the confusion. Nothing was forthcoming. By now most of the clarity has filtered through. If there is still confusion let us know, but make sure you also follow up with your relevant Ministry contacts. The issue was further compounded when the May provider payments contained multiple errors causing payments to go to the wrong provider. Chaos all round really.

PPE Disability Specific Guidelines

You will have noticed by now that these are finally up on the website. If you have yet seen them here is the link:

They still look a bit clunky and this reflects the competing perspectives that had to be worked through to get something that was reasonably pragmatic. The consequence is a likely increase in the demand for masks and gloves and a concern about whether the supply chain can respond – please let us know of any concerns in this regard and we will pass them on.

Level 2 Guidance

This is being worked on and time needs to be taken to incorporate the release of decisions still being made by Government. Nevertheless, we felt that an initial draft signalling the general direction would be useful sooner rather than later so we took the liberty of releasing a Ministry draft document earlier this week. Hopefully the full guidance is not too far away. Level 2 may require some careful and considered communication with families as providers continue to manage expectations around visits to homes, the opening of day programme facilities and the multiple risks that still have to be managed in these workplaces.

Workforce and Recruitment

Despite the Ministry saying this is a priority area there does not seem to be a lot of activity specific to the disability support sector. While the Ministry portal has had large numbers of people register an interest for support work this has only transpired into modest numbers actually placed with employers. NZDSN, Platform and HCHA are looking to collaborate on a project that looks at both recruitment and training pathways – immediately and for the longer term in what will be a very different labour market. We also have overtures from Go Tourism about a redeployment strategy from that sector to ours.

Free Contact Tracing App for Employers

Arnah Trelease, General Manager at Hohepa Canterbury, put us onto Kinetics – an IT company that developed a contact tracing app for its own employees. It’s now making the app available for free aside from the modest cost of an hour or two to install it. It can be further customised, again at a very modest cost. A prerequisite is Microsoft 365. If you want to check it out the link below has further information including contact details and a video clip:

They also have other services that may be worth a look:
· Productivity Training on O365 –
· Flight Plan/Best Practice Review to help business get 360 degree/helicopter view of the IT side of their business

Regional Network Zoom Sessions

A summary of last week’s meetings is attached here:

Some regions are now holding fortnightly sessions while others continue weekly. Themes include: late and confusing information/guidance from the Ministry; the importance of holding onto new found flexibility and ways of working; staff fatigue starting to creep in; the urgency of guidance on level 2 and the returning workforce.

Again a huge thank you to those who facilitated these sessions.

Survey 3 – “How life is going for the disability community”

This week’s ODI survey link and information is here:

Further COVID -19 Resources and Guidance

Advice, guidance and resources for people with autism and people with learning disabilities. Note these are from a UK context so may need some translation:

An example of an isolation plan for someone returning to a residential service – with input and approval of health line and public health officials:

Some training resources developed by Careerforce:

Kia tu tahi tatou
From the NZDSN Team