Disability care staff at four residential care homes in the ACT have received pamper packages this week to thank them for their dedication to caring for the community throughout the pandemic.
More than 40 staff have been working in PPE for over 18 months and more than 90 per cent of employees have taken up the opportunity to be vaccinated.
Employer, Able Australia set up a vaccine hub at its office in Phillip last Friday to support staff in their efforts to protect themselves and their clients.
Despite vaccines not being mandatory for disability support staff, 75 per cent of employees at the homes took up the opportunity and are now fully vaccinated.
Following a call out, brands across the country donated $30,000 worth of hand creams, face mists, lip tints and other pamper products to send out to 700 frontline workers in Canberra, Melbourne and Brisbane.
ACT manager Jessi Claudianos said despite disability support staff being on a priority booking list in Canberra, many of their employees had found it hard to get in for a vaccine.
"I think the focus was on the aged care sector so it was quite difficult," Ms Claudianos said.
"Of course, because our work is shift work, it is extremely difficult for people to take time out."
Ms Claudianos said with disability support staff visiting people in their homes, as well as being required to show up to work at residential facilities during a COVID outbreak, it had been a stressful time.
"There's definitely anxiety within the disability sector, noting that there's been positive cases of COVID not just for participants but also for staff members," Ms Claudianos said.
READ MORE COVID-19 NEWS:
The peak advisory body for some of the largest providers of community care has called on the federal government to mandate the vaccination of disability support workers against COVID-19.
Catholic Health Australia wrote to the Prime Minister and National Disability Insurance Scheme Minister Linda Reynolds this week urging them to trigger a Commonwealth mandate vaccination program like the one for residential aged care workers.
Ms Claudianos said she was in favour of mandatory vaccinations for disability support staff.
"Unfortunately, staff weren't a priority for the government so I really think that it needs to be mandated for the disability sector," she said.
Of the NDIS clients at Able, there are only two who are awaiting their second vaccine while the remainder are fully vaccinated.
"It's really important that we shed light on the great work people in the disability sector are doing," Ms Claudianos said.
"I think sometimes it's an industry that we don't often think about and it's a really important one for our community."
Our coverage of the health and safety aspects of this outbreak of COVID-19 in the ACT and the lockdown is free for anyone to access. However, we depend on subscription revenue to support our journalism. If you are able, please subscribe here. If you are already a subscriber, thank you for your support. You can also sign up for our newsletters for regular updates.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content: