DSD offers services for people living with disabilities amidst COVID-19 pandemic | Western Cape Government



DSD offers services for people living with disabilities amidst COVID-19 pandemic

13 July 2020

The Western Cape Department of Social Development (DSD) has continued to prioritise delivering services to people living with disabilities, their families and/ or caregivers, and the communities in which they live, despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

For the current financial year,  R 169 million has been budgeted for developmental social welfare services to people with disabilities, their families and/ or caregivers.

The Western Cape Minister of Social Development, Sharna Fernandez said: “ Every country in the world is being directly or indirectly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Healthcare services and systems are being disrupted, and people living with disabilities are often neglected in emergency preparedness and response efforts.”

Minister Fernandez added: “The current pandemic poses additional challenges to those who are already living in difficult situations. It is thus crucial to sensitise and build the capacities of health care and protection service providers in emergency settings for the inclusion of people with disabilities in government responses and sustaining rehabilitation services and assistive product(s) provision during the pandemic.”

The Department continues to grow services to people living with disabilities, including services to people with moderate and high support needs (severe and profound) intellectual disabilities. Furthermore, during the financial year under review, 91 181 people living with disabilities (per our verified data of 2019/20) accessed our developmental social welfare services.

The Department has developed an Easy Read booklet containing information about Covid-19 in a manner that is accessible to people living with disabilities.

The booklet can downloaded by clicking here.


The Department of Social Development makes available the following services through its NPO partners: 

  • Residential care services facilities are managed by Non-Profit Organisations (NPOs) who provide the temporary or permanent care, protection, support, stimulation and rehabilitation of people with disabilities. These services are provided when they cannot be done at home or in the community. In light of the COVID -19 pandemic – 39 disabled homes have been provided with Personnel Protective Equipment (PPE) that offers essential workers the most effective protection possible, whilst they provide crucial services.
  • Protective workshop services: Working with NPOs, the Department funds a number of workshops for people living with disabilities. In light of the current Covid19 pandemic- we have developed and implemented service continuity plans in case the workforce is reduced or new workers are recruited in consultation with people with disability, their families and other local disability and caregiver agencies. 
  • Daycare centres (for both children and adults): Centres are managed by NPOs to provide day time supervised care, stimulation, structured programmes and activities. The Department also subsidises the salaries of carers and programme implementers, and the safe transportation of children with severe and profound intellectual disability at 44-day care centres.

Counselling and psycho-social support:

Minister Fernandez said: “People with disabilities who have suspected or confirmed COVID-19 may need support with their mental health, similar to any other groupings of people. Social distancing and self-isolation may make people feel traumatised, vulnerable, stressed or worried.”

Minister Fernandez continued: “People living with disabilities should seek the counselling and psychosocial support they may need from appropriately trained health care professionals and also community-based, lay and peer counsellors, on their own or with the support of family, friends, neighbours or caregivers.”

Actions for community members:

The World Health Organisation (WHO) proposes the following steps that can be taken by community members to help government reduce the further spread of COVID-19.

  • Establish flexible work arrangements for people with disability and caregivers, including taking paid leave if they are at high risk of severe symptoms.
  • Increase access to stores and set up special hours for people with disability.
  • Schools and other educational facilities should take appropriate action to ensure continuity of education for people and children with disability.
  • Family, friends and neighbours should check in regularly on people with disability to provide emotional, practical and communication support.

If we are to truly live in a society where we are ‘Better Togerther’, it is of crucial importance that the provision of integrated programmes and services to Persons with Disabilities and their families/ caregivers. Furthermore, we remain committed to promoting disability mainstreaming as to government services are accessible and inclusive.

I would like to encourage the public to frequently wash their hands, and to wear your masks correctly when leaving home. It is also remarkably important to clean all surfaces around you - whether it be at home or work. Let’s do everything we can to ensure that we stop the further spread of the virus and protect those who are older and living with high-risk comorbidities.

For more information contact:

Any persons interested in finding out more information about the services we offer those people living with disabilities can make contact with our department by calling, 0800 220 250, to be directed to your nearest local DSD office.

We urge the public to access credible information on https://www.westerncape.gov.za/department-of-health/coronavirus.

For more information about our other services, please refer to the Western Cape Department’s Website below: