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Group homes and social distancing

The Federal and state governments all agree that the best way to stop, or slow, the coronavirus from spreading is for people to stay at home. All Australians must stay home unless it’s absolutely necessary to go outside.

If you have to go outside, you need to stay at least 1.5 meters away from other people. This includes friends and family members who don’t live with you.

When can you go out?

You’re allowed to leave home for the essentials, like:

  • shopping for food
  • exercising – in a public space such as a park, with no more than two people
  • going out for medical appointments or to the pharmacy
  • providing care or support to another person
  • going to work if you can’t work from home.

If you’re sick, you need to stay at home and away from others.

How many people can be together?

The Australian Government has said that indoor and outdoor gatherings are limited to two people. 

The exceptions to this rule are:

  • people who live in the same house going out together
  • funerals – up to 10 people
  • weddings – up to 5 people
  • immediate family members.

Visits to your home should also be kept to a minimum.

How does this affect people in group homes?

Many people living in group homes might get very sick if they catch coronavirus. This can be because of age, health, or medical conditions. However, it’s also because they are living in a big house with lots of other people.

Residents of group homes live close together. Some may not understand how important it is to physically distance themselves from others or keep up high levels of hygiene and hand washing. Some residents may not be able to tell someone they have coronavirus symptoms. If a person in a group home gets coronavirus, it could spread to others in the home very easily.

States seem to have slightly different rules about how many visitors a person can have in a group home and for how long. However, it is always OK for a person from your family to visit you for support and wellbeing.

Workers and healthcare providers are also still able to go into the homes.

Group homes may have extra screening processes for people coming in, depending on which state you’re in. This might include checking if visitors have recently been overseas or if they have any coronavirus symptoms.

You can find the different coronavirus rules and guidelines for each state on the Australian Government Coronavirus website.

Keeping in touch

You can still keep in touch with people while you’re social distancing.

You can:

  • use video chats
  • call people on the phone you would normally catch up with in person
  • use online groups and messaging.

People in group homes may be able to get support to access and use smart devices and tablets. Check with your disability service provider and National Disability Insurance Scheme funding to see what they can offer.

Resources

For up-to-date information about social distancing rules go to:

Advocacy tips

  • The NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission is encouraging people with disability, families and advocates to contact them if there are issues with group home providers during coronavirus. For example, if a group home provider has said that family members aren’t allowed to visit residents.

  • NDIS providers must report changes to how they are delivering supports. For example, if they are providing support online instead of in-person.

  • The NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission and the NDIA have triage teams to prioritise continuity of supports. You can contact email at COVIDtriage@ndiscommission.gov.au

  • There is a 30-minute online course available for health care workers. The course will teach workers how to prevent infection and control COVID-19. You can ask your support worker to take this training at COVID-19training.gov.au

Date
22 April 2020
State
Applies to all states