The State Government recently changed its Hospital Visitor Directions to allow “a disability worker to enter or remain at a hospital for the purpose of providing a disability service to a patient with a disability”.
The change in policy came as a result of one of our storytellers, Sam Petersen working together with the Summer Foundation’s Policy Manager Dr George Taleporos, to drive change in this area.
“The Victorian Government has now issued some very clear directions that mean disability support workers are excluded from any hospital visitation restrictions,” George said.
“It is important for people to know that their health needs remain the responsibility of hospital staff. Most people with disabilities will not need support workers when they are in hospital. But for people with high and complex needs who do, this change is a very reassuring.”
Of her advocacy work to drive change in this area, Sam said: “At the start of COVID-19 I got so scared because if I had to go to hospital, maybe my support workers would be refused entry to support me.
“The nurses are very unlikely to fully understand me and will not treat me right, I have had hundreds of experiences of them doing just that. I have learnt that having a support worker [in hospital] that knows me can make all the difference.
“I had so many people say ‘no, you will not be able to have a support worker in hospital’. It felt like a knife to the heart. They didn’t know the sentence they were putting on me. And it makes no sense. If I could have a nurse near me,
why not a support worker?
“Then I contacted George and found out they were working on it too. Fear drove me to advocate. I know that it can be really painful and take up so much of your time and often we can’t do it but if you can it’s so important to keep going and talk to others in your situation, for that is the only way we will see change.”