Assistive Devices Closure during COVID-19 Pandemic
On March 24, 2020, Assistive Devices Program (ADP) authorizers were notified that the ADP would be closing its offices as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and to ensure social distance measures are observed. The program is no longer able to accept or process applications for funding assistance until the office re-opens.
Without prior knowledge or pre-arranged workarounds, occupational therapists and other authorizers, as well as vendors, identified the serious impacts such closure could have on clients awaiting discharge from hospital and those in the community and in long-term care homes for whom a seating or mobility device would be critical to retaining or achieving safety and functional ability to manage at home without risk of injury/incident resulting in an Emergency visit or hospitalization. On behalf of members, OSOT identified these serious concerns to the ADP.
View OSOT's communication to ADP.
ADP Announces Interim Procedures
The ADP has communicated the following interim strategies to address needs for essential access to seating and mobility equipment during the pandemic period. View ADP Communique, March 27, 2020.
During the pandemic period it is expected that essential services relating to seating and mobility assessments that may lead to ADP funding applications will occur when these can be undertaken with respect to the safety and health of the client and clinicians/vendors involved in this process.
While the ADP offices are closed new applications may not be submitted and should be held until such a time as the office re-opens.
While ADP applications cannot be processed and funding approved during the pandemic period, in order to facilitate ongoing access to equipment, ADP is assuring vendors that they will receive bi-weekly payments (above and beyond payments for already approved devices) based on an average of invoices in the past 6 months of payment cycle. This is to ensure some financial assurance and to enable vendors to access and provide product to clients who are either waiting to have already submitted applications approved or are new applications. When the ADP re-opens a financial accounting will resolve any differentials in vendor costs vis a vis payments received.
As is usual, vendors will require the 25% client portion be paid at time of device order. Is it the expectation that they will not need to collect the remaining 75% payment from the client upfront because they are receiving payment based on past billing averages.
For clients who are approved by the Ministry of Children, Community (MCCSS) and Social Services as eligible for the ODSP (Ontario Disability Support Program), OW (Ontario Works) or ACSD (Assistance for Children with Severe Disability), the ADP will cover the MCCSS portion of the costs if an application is approved. To date we have not seen notification that MCCSS offices are closed, however, many may be operating with reduced hours and social distancing policies.
Tertiary hospitals have been concerned about the significant impact on discharge timelines for their patients. ADP has agreed to a “Pandemic ADP Expedited Submission Form" for use in these cases and processes which will provide for a one-business day turnaround during the pandemic to accommodate surge patients and facilitate timely discharge. This form and an accompanying ADP application will have been completed at a tertiary rehabilitation centre by the local ADP authorizer and submitted for funding approval. If the Assistive Devices Program (ADP) approves funding assistance for the attached application, the ADP will cover the client portion for clients determined by MCCSS to be eligible for ODSP or OW.
Specific procedures are to be communicated by the organizations. Hamilton Health Sciences, The Ottawa Hospital, Providence Care, St. Joseph’s London, Sinai Health System, Sunnybrook, Unity Health Toronto, and UHN were the requesting hospitals however, any tertiary rehab hospital is eligible to use this procedure.
Implications for Occupational Therapists
Occupational therapists are commonly authorizers for the Assistive Devices Program and will be determining the essential nature of their clients' needs for seating and mobility assessments and their capacity to provide these safely. These processes have been put in place to minimize disruptive time delays in access to equipment that is critical for safe mobility and independence.
OSOT requests that members monitor implementation of these plans and communicate any issues to the Society. During these challenging times, changes in protocol can be expected but engaging all stakeholders in determining solutions can reduce potential for problems. ADP has invited ongoing feedback from occupational therapists.