The new ‘Call-to-Test’ COVID-19 service is a topic of discussion for many people with disability at the moment.

This free service is for people in metropolitan Melbourne, who have COVID-19 symptoms but cannot leave home due to injury or mobility problems. To access this service, a referral to a GP is needed from a telehealth consultation.

Once you have a referral you can call the 1800 675 398 hotline.

A nurse will visit your home within 48 hours of the service receiving the GP referral. You will be encouraged to remain in isolation for a few days until the results are given to you.

Gina, a Summer Foundation Program Officer in our Lived Experience Team interviewed some people with disability in our network about their experience of this new ‘Call-to-Test’ Procedure.

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“Smile Em,” my sister instructs from behind her camera.

I’m sitting fully masked (posing as directed) with my nieces and nephew standing at the required COVID distance.

I roll my eyes sarcastically and muffle, “Seriously Bec, smiling with a facial palsy’s hard enough! Now I’m doubly challenged with this mask!”

Hiding behind my eyepatch and bandages was once quite comforting earlier on in my stroke recovery. I could internalise my emotions. Botox masked my wrinkled lopsided expressions. My tears were plugged as my tear ducts no longer worked. My vocal cords were damaged so I couldn’t moan or whinge.

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Q: What has been your biggest concern during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Staying COVID-free mainly… Especially in a household where we have support workers coming and going. Luckily I have a great team of women supporting me who understand that keeping me safe means keeping themselves and their families safe too. As long as everybody is doing their part to do that, we can prevent the spread amongst ourselves and our loved ones.

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Q: What has been your biggest concern during the COVID-19 pandemic?

My biggest worry is getting COVID-19, because I have no idea and no control over who people who come into my home are mixing with outside my home. I worry someone will have come into contact with COVID-19 and then I will get it. It was really difficult to get masks, gloves or hand sanitiser.


Q: Why is having easy access to PPE important to you?

Because it hard to access anything especially PPE. PPE protects me from catching COVID-19 and I feel safer when people are at least wearing masks when they are in close contact with me.

Q: As restrictions are eased around Australia, many are starting to enjoy the freedom they had prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. The reality for many people with disability is that they will remain in isolation until a vaccine is available. Will you continue to self-isolate until a vaccine is developed and why?
I don’t mind being in my home, because I am safe and I keep in contact with friends and therapists via the internet.

I would like to stay home, but it might not be convenient because I want to get back to gym and volunteering at my school so I can get back to work, which was on the cards before the the Corona virus put my life on hold.

It scares me a bit to go back out into the community though.

Q: Do you feel you will have an ongoing need to source PPE?

Yes, because as people venture out and mix with more people, there will be a greater risk of COVID-19 spreading back into the community and so more risk of contracting COVID–19. I need my support workers to use PPE to ensure I am as safe as I can be.




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