Safe Environment: NDIS Provision of Supports Environment
Published: 29 August 2021
People using disability support services have a rate of roughly 240 potentially preventable deaths per 100 000 people - 3.6 times higher than that of the general population (AIHW 2020).
Between 2014 and 2017, 42 preventable deaths occurred in residential disability care in New South Wales alone (NSW Ombudsman 2018).
Participants of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) have the right to receive high-quality supports that are provided with care and skill, delivered in a safe and competent environment (NDIS 2020a).
It is the provider’s responsibility to ensure their service delivery environment is safe, thereby reducing the risk of injury, illness or death.
This Practice Standard aims to ensure that NDIS participants receive care in a safe environment that is appropriate for their needs (NDIS 2020b).
Safe Environment Quality Indicators
NDIS providers must meet the following quality indicators:
NDIS participants should be able to easily recognise the workers who have been engaged to provide supports (NDIS 2020b).
Providers can ensure that workers are recognisable by:
Providing staff with photo identification badges or name tags
Placing the organisation’s logo on staff uniforms
Providing participants with information packs that contain staff photos
Placing a staff photo board in reception areas
Seeking feedback from participants.
(NDS 2020; WAAMH 2021)
These strategies will not only ensure participants feel safer but may also provide them with a better understanding of a particular worker’s credentials and role within the organisation (Avon Security Products 2017).
If supports are being delivered within a participant’s home, the provider must work with the participant to ensure that their home is adequately safe (NDIS 2020b).
Any potential risks in the participant’s home must be identified and managed in order to prevent harm to the participant, workers or any other people present (WAAMH 2021).
Examples of potential safety hazards in a participant’s home include:
Manual handling tasks
Environmental hazards that could cause slips, trips, falls etc.
Temperature (e.g. heat or cold)
Noise, light or electricity
The participant’s relatives, friends, neighbours or pets
Weapons and objects
The participant’s behaviour.
It’s important that a risk assessment is performed prior to delivering supports at a participant’s home (WAAMH 2021).
Collaboration With Other Providers and Services
Providers are expected to collaborate with other providers and services that are involved in a participant’s care in order to identify and mitigate risks, ensure the safety of the service environment, and prevent and manage injury (WAAMH 2021).
This also applies if a provider is operating in an environment that they do not own, for example, a community setting (NDS 2020).
Reducing Preventable Deaths in Disability Care
A 2018 report by the NSW Ombudsman identified the following actions to reduce preventable deaths in disability care:
Identifying illness or injury and urgently seeking medical assistance
Improving access to preventive health services (e.g. related to smoking, obesity and other lifestyle risks)
Identifying and managing breathing, swallowing and choking risks
Making informed treatment limitation decisions instead of basing decisions on perceived quality of life
Ensuring effective first aid responses
Improving the support and coordination of care in hospital
Reporting ‘near misses’ and taking action to prevent these situations from reoccurring
Providing behavioural support to reduce aversion and resistance to health services and treatment
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