Occupational Therapy Services Re-opening
Effective May 26, with the Chief Medical Officer of Health’s release of an amended Directive #2, the gradual restart of deferred, non-essential and elective health care services has been authorized and occupational therapists may begin to resume these practices when necessary preconditions can be met, including compliance with a new guidance document "COVID-19 Operational Requirements: Health Sector Restart" and the College of Occupational Therapists “COVID-19 Return to Work Guidance for Occupational Therapists”.
OSOT has advocated for re-opening of OT services knowing occupational therapists will welcome the opportunity to again more fully meet the needs of the public while holding client and public safety as their highest priority.
The new directive was amended to reflect the gradual restart of all deferred and non-essential and elective services carried out by health care providers. The guidance document outlines measures that must be in place for the provision of in-person health services by health care providers. As per the amended Directive;
- Health Care Providers must consider which services should continue to be provided
remotely and which services can safely resume in-person with appropriate hazard
controls and sufficient PPE.
- Health Care Providers should be sourcing PPE through their regular supply chain.
PPE allocations from the provincial pandemic stockpile will continue. PPE can also be
accessed, within available supply, on an emergency basis through the established
escalation process through the Ontario Health Regions.
- Subject to the requirements of this Directive, Health Care Providers are in the best
position to determine which services should continue to be provided remotely (online,
by telephone or other virtual means) and which should be provided in-person. This
should be guided by best clinical evidence. Health Care Providers must also adhere to
the guidance provided by their applicable health regulatory college, and the following
principles: Proportionality, Minimizing Harm to Patients. Equity. and Reciprocity.
Implications for Occupational Therapists
Occupational therapists across all sectors of practice are now able to make plans to support resumption of all occupational therapy services. Some OTs will be guided by their organizations, in addition to the government guidance and that of the College of Occupational Therapists of Ontario (COTO). Private practitioners are to take guidance from the above documents and take steps to ensure that requirements can be met prior to offering services. All occupational therapists should assume responsibility to ensure that they are resuming services only when they feel they can effectively meet the requirements of government and COTO guidance.
The Directive and COTO Guidance underlines the principle that services that can be safely and effectively provided remotely (online, by telephone or other virtual means) should be. It is reasonable to assume that virtual practice options should remain in most OTs' repertoire of service delivery.
OSOT wishes to understand the ongoing needs and issues of members relating to return to practice. To this end, members are invited to complete a 5 minute survey - Understanding the Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic on your Practice. Please respond by June 1, 2020
For more information, supports, and resources, occupational therapists are encouraged to regularly monitor OSOT's COVID-19 Webpages.