Last Saturday March 5, DPA held a Bubble Hui to discuss how people are faring during the Omicron outbreak and any issues or concerns. The key points that were raised (including issues that have also been raised by some who were unable to attend the hui) were:

Support work

  • Cuts have gone as far as essential support, people not turning up to get people out or bed, no showering, no meals, not turning up;
  • Some support workers turning up less than 50% of the time and when they do turn up it is often at random times without forewarning.
  • People having household management services cut for 90 days without any warning or conversation about how they are going to be able to manage without the service;
  • The exacerbation of already bad communications from some service providers - particularly in relation to when support workers are turning up;
  • Concern around having support workers that have been around people who are Covid positive coming into homes:
  • that support workers who are household contacts can come in if they have had a negative RAT test. Lack of alternatives – either no-one as there isn't a replacement for the support worker if they are in isolation, or hire privately – which is not an option for a lot of people;
  • lack of clarity around how long household contacts might be contagious - if able to, how long would someone leave it before a household contact comes back to work? The Covid website talks about the population in general and is not focused on actual risk for people who are getting up close and personal support;
  • support workers with children who are at schools with Covid positive cases;
  • Support worker saying that their Covid training included that they didn't need to change face mask between providing household management services in the home of a client who is Covid positive and the home of one who is not;
  • Concern about the possibility of mandates being lifted and whether the mandates would be lifted for support workers at the same time. Disabled people should be consulted before any changes to mandates for support workers are made, as many are going to still want support workers vaccinated, wearing masks etc.

Lack of post-operative in-home support

  • Being sent home after a major operation and told that no in-home support is available due to Covid. e.g. no district health nurse visits, no home help. Not permitted to drive for six weeks due to the operation so having to rely on friends for lifts to the GP for post-operative wound care, and paying GP consultation costs for each visit.

Financial concerns

  • Concerns around how people are doing financially. Trying to get hold of local NASC and they are not responding;
  • Everything has become more expensive, plus there are also the extra Covid costs for masks and RATs etc.

Need for information

  • Lack of advice for people who are immunocompromised around the rates and outcome of break through infection;
  • Lack of easily accessible information around how to get RAT tests, e.g. is there a phone call that you can make to get a RAT delivered? [There is minimal access to deliveries of RATs - see the Covid testing and isolating update below]
  • Is in-home supervised RAT testing available? [It appears not]
  • Lack of lists of trusted sources of information.

Social isolation

  • Concern around the social fallout for those who are socially isolated due to sheltering from Covid - for example university students who have never met their classmates because they are not attending Uni in person.
  • Would be good to have social support for people in self-imposed isolation. Email group? Facebook group?

How are the Ministry of Health hearing disabled people's concerns?

  • What information is being gathered? How is it communicated? And who is delivering it to the Ministry of Health?

In answer to this last question - DPA have gathered community feedback and concerns since the beginning of the pandemic response in March 2020. We have had representatives on various advisory groups since then, and alongside other Disabled People's Organisations (DPOs) and other disability organisations, we have related what we are hearing to those groups. We have also contacted the ministry on an ad hoc basis around various concerns as they arise.