Resuming Occupational Therapy Services in Long-Term Care Homes
OSOT has been actively advocating to the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Long-Term Care to provide clear guidance to the long-term care homes (LTCHs) sector regarding access to in-person occupational therapy services. Members report that most homes have followed initial Directives of the Chief Medical Officer of Health to restrict employees to provide services to one LTCH only - extending this restriction to contracted occupational therapists who typically hold contracts with multiple homes. As services have begun to re-open occupational therapists across the province have reported continued restriction.
View OSOT advocacy communication to Minister Fullerton regarding access to OT Services during COVID-19.
On July 7, 2020, Assistant Deputy Minister, Long-Term Care, Janet Hope forwarded the following clarifying information;
"On April 16, 2020, the government enacted a temporary emergency order to further protect retirement home and long-term care residents during the COVID-19 outbreak by restricting employees from working in more than one retirement home, long-term care home or health care setting, with compliance required by April 22, 2020.
In order to ensure a steady supply of staff available to work on an emergency basis and to ensure other critical supports are in place in long-term care homes, the order for that sector does not apply to agency workers or other critical contract staff. These individuals are subject to "active screening" and all other safety directions set out in a directive by the Chief Medical Officer of Health.
Therefore Occupational Therapists who are not employees of a long-term care home but who work on a contracted basis may continue to provide services in multiple settings."
ADM Hope has committed to communicating this message to industry associations - the Ontario Long-Term Care Association and AdvantAge Ontario - with a request that they share this widely with their membership homes.
Implications for Occupational Therapists
Occupational therapists with contracts to provide services in long-term care homes are encouraged to resume necessary in-person services for residents in need. Members are asked to identify any further restriction in providing service in more than one home to the OSOT Office.
As many residents have been without access to OT services over the past months, it is recognized that needs may be high and that therapists will need to assert restrictions on services they can manage within the confines of their contract. OSOT urges members to use this time of demand to advocate for increased hours within their contracts. As admissions from hospitals and the community begin once again it is important that necessary occupational therapy services that are to be made available to all residents of LTCHs with needs are truly accessible. Members may wish to review OSOT's submission to the Long-Term Care Homes Staffing Review in March 2020.