COVID-19 DWSP Update: Issued 29 September 2020

We have some new guidelines this week!  Here’s the run down:

In good news for Melbourne, COVID-19 case numbers continue to drop, childcare is back and primary schools are set to return to campus in Week 2, Term 4.   It’s a very welcome change for us all, especially for parents with young children who have been managing the work-from-home-while-parenting juggle.

Guidelines from DHHS have now been released for Allied Health (Speech Pathology, Occupational Therapy, Psychology and Music Therapy) so we can understand what this next stage means for the DWSP team and our clients and begin to plan for the rest of the 2020.  You can view the table of guidelines at the top of this post.

Based on these guidelines, Telehealth services for all of our clients will be continuing for the time being, and we’ve set out a timetable for DWSP for the next few weeks.  This provides us with a timeframe for planning our ongoing therapy and supports.

Until Monday 26 October 2020 (during the “Second Step”)

No face-to-face sessions nor groups will be running in the clinic, apart from urgent swallowing assessments with a Speech Pathologist, or any other urgent care approved by our Clinical Director.

Under this “Second Step” we are only permitted to offer face to face sessions for listed chronic and urgent purposes, which are the following:

  • to prevent a significant change/deterioration in functional independence which would result in an escalation of care needs (e.g. an increase in frequency of treatment needed, an increased need for prescription medication due to a significant increase in pain, requirement for specialist input or review, etc)
  • to provide assessment and diagnostic services to clients / patients whose care have been delayed as a result of Stage 4 restrictions, with any further delay likely to result in deterioration in functional independence or adverse health outcomes (including access to diagnostic imaging services or assessment for prescription of assistive equipment and technology)
  • to provide services that are essential as part of a broader plan of care with a medical practitioner (e.g. fitting a brace post-surgery)
  • to provide services that are part of a conservative management plan to avoid or delay elective surgery (as agreed with treating team)
  • to provide services immediately following elective surgery that prevent secondary complications or aid functional recovery (as agreed with treating team)

Our professional bodies (AHPRA and SPA) have advised our staff still require permits to leave home for work, stating we cannot work from remotely, and that if we can work from home we should continue to do so.

 

School Services 

If your child usually receives their Speech or OT at school, we are now awaiting advice from each individual school we visit as to whether DWSP staff can attend onsite. This will be up to each school’s management, and outside of DWSP control.   As we have done in the past two terms, we’ll continue to offer telehealth appointments within the school day, managed by each school.

We know that once schools return, for children who are unable to access therapy at school, that this will place increased demand on our after school spots. Where possible, we are planning to offer shorter sessions after school to give us capacity to support more students needing to move their appointment times in Term 4.

 

After Monday 26 October (if Melbourne reaches the “Third Step”)

Only limited face-to-face sessions will be running each day, with the bulk of sessions remaining online via Telehealth. No face-to-face groups.  

DHHS and our professional bodies have indicated that Telehealth services will be preferred, with a density quotient applied to any clinic space. The guidelines on this are yet to be released.

This means that in November, we should be able to offer infrequent face-to-face services for clients that want or need them. This might mean we can offer clients every 2nd or 3rd session in the clinic face to-face with their other appointments remaining online.  As we approach this time things will no doubt change again, and we will have more information about how we can proceed.

It’s not really the news we were hoping for.  We are all so very keen to be out of our homes and back in the clinic and seeing everyone face to face. It’s great to see Melbourne on the road to recovery though, and we’re proud of how hard everyone has worked and how open our clients have remained to telehealth during this period.  We’re hoping with a gradual an careful transition through the rest of this year, we may be able to do things much more normally in 2021!

Please don’t hesitate to chat to your clinician or to our admin team if you need any further information.

Our next DWSP update will be issued in 3-4 weeks, once we know more about what we can offer after October 26.

Post featured image from: Industry Restart Guidelines Allied Health, Vic Gov, Sept 2020