Support For Those Who Need It Most

Thursday, February 04, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted us all and changed the way we manage our usual activities, including work, education, socialising and accessing health services.

“For some groups in our community this impact is amplified and, without additional support, they are at risk of long term disadvantage and poorer health outcomes,” said Gayle Smith, Eastern Health Executive Director of Quality, Planning and Innovation. “People living with a disability have found it more difficult to access health and hospital services during the pandemic.”

To overcome these barriers to accessing healthcare, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) have funded a new Disability Liaison Service.


Two Disability Liaison Officers have been appointed at Eastern Health.
Belinda Ross, Clinical Lead for Social Work, has been appointed to the Disability Liaison Officer Coordinator Role. Christy Walsh, Occupational Therapist, has been appointed to the Disability Liaison Officer role and has been working in this position since November.
The Disability Liaison Officers aim to support people living with a disability access the health and hospital services they require, including:

  • COVID-19 testing or treatment
  • Health support missed during COVID-19 lockdowns
  • Assistance with access to health services
  • Support while in hospital
  • Help to attend clinics

They also offer consultation and/or education to clinicians, teams and specific groups caring for people with disabilities during the pandemic in settings such as:
· Inpatient (ward or ED)
· Outpatient settings (clinics, therapy appointments)
If you become aware of a patient with a disability that has difficulty engaging with a service during the pandemic, please contact the Disability Liaison Officer via email or phone. Please ensure you have consent from the person you are referring.
Eastern Health is keen to work alongside patients with disabilities and health service teams to problem solve barriers and improving the consumer experience.

Read more.