10 July, 2020
The Department of Health has advised that you can leave your home to access allied health services (including occupational therapy) while the Stay at Home directions have been re-introduced by the Victorian Government. Find out more here.
9 July, 2020
The COVID-19 Primary Care and Allied Health webinar was held today. OTA has prepared a one-page summary of the webinar available here.
8 July, 2020
At the Primary Care Response group meeting today Professor Michael Kidd has recommended that all health professionals in Greater Melbourne and Mitchell Shire seeing any patient for any reason should wear a standard surgical mask. A reminder that an extra 1.5 million masks for AHPs were added to the stockpile a few weeks ago, so applications should be made to the local PHN. The COVID-19 Primary Care and Allied Health webinar is on tomorrow at 2.30pm-3.30pm AEST, where Professor Michael Kidd and panel members will provide further updates and answer questions.
Our Practice Team have been working to answer members enquiries today and have create the following.
OTA recognise that the current stage 3 restrictions in parts of Victoria may raise new questions for clinicians, including considerations when crossing state and council borders to provide therapy to clients. We are following this up as a matter of priority and will provide an update over the coming days when we expect new information to come to hand.
In the meantime, we recommend that you continue to use the best information available to guide your clinical reasoning and decision making by routinely checking state and federal government COVID-19 updates. We also advise you to continue to stay abreast of information relevant to the council areas in which you live and work, including number of COVID-19 cases in those areas. In order to maintain the safety of your clients and yourself you may need to continue to be flexible in the modality you are using to deliver your services. If you are planning to conduct a face-to-face consultation you must adhere to all COVID-19 precautions outlined by state and federal governments and consider the recommendation above to wear a standard surgical mask. You should also inform your client of any risks that you identify in relation to COVID-19 and outline the steps that you are taking to mitigate those risks. It is essential that you have informed consent from your client for the appointment to proceed.
The following resources will help you stay abreast of the most up to date information:
- Victorian Restriction Levels
- Department of Health Coronavirus Advice for the health and Aged Care Sector
- Webinar: COVID-19 response update for primary care and allied health practitioners
Our Advocacy Team has provided the following summary of the latest announcements:
- PM Morrison and Senator Colbeck (the Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians) addressed the media early this afternoon. Morrison expressed a message of unity with Victorians. Senator Colbeck also announced release of a further 6,100 Home Care Packages (HCPs), supporting older Australians to remain at home longer. See here.
- The Australian Banking Association (ABA) has today confirmed that banks will continue to support customers who need it with up to another four months of deferred repayments on already deferred loans. See here.
- Several Morrison Government measures which came into effect on 1 July are to help Australians transition through the health and economic impacts from COVID-19. See here.
- Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has foreshadowed further income support beyond the end of September. "There will be another phase of income support, it will be targeted, it will be temporary, it will be designed to get help to people who need it most," he told the ABC. His Government is also considering bringing forward planned cuts to personal income tax. Further details will be announced on 23 July.
7 July, 2020
The New Normal: Navigating Everyday Life During COVID-19
We are pleased to share that the follow-up to the (very) popular ebook "Normal Life Has Been Disrupted" is now available to download and share. Developed by Lorrae Mynard, this new guide (“The New Normal: Navigating Everyday Life During COVID-19”) explores ideas and prompts for reflection to help tailor a new normal that’s right for you. Download the full guide here.
25 June, 2020
HBF temporary telehealth benefits (including occupational therapy) have been extended until 31 December 2020 in response to COVID-19. Learn more about what’s included here.
15 June, 2020
Victoria Driving Assessments
From today (15 June, 2020), the Victorian Government has announced that all light vehicle and computer-based drive tests in Victoria are set to resume. With strict hygiene protocols in place in drive test vehicles, learn more here.
3 June, 2020
Queensland Driving Assessments
The Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads have announced that from 15 June 2020, Queensland driver tests will be recommencing for priority bookings. To ensure tests are conducted safely, there will be some new measures in place including a pre-screening health checklist, cleaning and disinfectant procedures. Further information including health and safety requirements for driving tests is available on the Department's website here.
26 May, 2020
Department of Health Webinar
Running this Thursday 28 May, the next Primary Care and Allied Health Practitioners webinar will feature Ms Catherine Turnbull, Professor Michael Kidd, and Ms Alison McMillan. With the panel discussing telehealth, learn more here.
25 May, 2020
Mental Health Care Funding
The Australian Government is providing more than $20 million in additional funding for research to improve mental health care and reduce suicide rates in Australia. Applications for grants of up to $1 million open in June. Learn more here.
22 May, 2020
19 May, 2020
Reopening workplaces – are you ready?
Our partner WorkPlace Plus has prepared an article with key considerations on reopening workplaces. While many businesses are looking forward to the loosening of COVID-19 restrictions, workplaces must take important preparatory measures before staff return. Read the blog here.
13 May, 2020
DVA COVID-19 Resources
DVA has prepared a number of resources to help you provide care to veterans during COVID-19. With information on DVA’s telehealth arrangements (including fee item numbers) and support services for veterans (including access to pharmaceuticals and shopping support), learn more here.
8 May, 2020
Returning to School Infographic
With children in several states soon returning to school, OT Kate Woods has developed a helpful OT-informed graphic for parents. Detailing four key ways of assisting children through the transition from virtual to real classroom, download the graphic here.
5 May, 2020
The Royal College of Occupational Therapists (UK) have developed a guide to support the ongoing management of people recovering from COVID-19, with recommendations that can be implemented to the Australian context. Highlighting approaches that may be adapted to ensure a continuum of recovery is addressed, learn more and access the guide here.
29 April, 2020
*OTA Members Save 20%*
The OT Telehealth Summit will bring together 12 highly regarded OTs (including OTA’s very own Carol Jewell) to explore ethical considerations, technical know-how, models of intervention, therapy tools, and more. Launching this Thursday 30 April, learn more and access the discount code here.
20 April, 2020
Latest MBS Telehealth Update 20 April
Occupational Therapy Australia advises that the Health Minister, the Hon. Greg Hunt, has amended telehealth legislation to provide allied health practitioners and other health professionals with the option to bulk-bill or patient-bill a wider range of MBS telehealth consultations.
Allied health practitioners may now charge a co-payment for services provided to children under 16, concession card holders and those vulnerable to COVID-19. These changes come into effect from today (20 April, 2020). More info can be found here.
TAC and Telehealth Update
TAC is now implementing telehealth item codes for occupational therapists. The new rates will allow you to be paid at your current TAC face-to-face rate when you deliver telehealth services to TAC clients. Telehealth items have now been added to LanternPay. Go to lanternpay.com/providers to sign in or register, or visit tac.vic.gov.au/lanternpay for more information.
9 April, 2020
Telehealth Consent Form Template
As per the OTA Telehealth Guidelines it is advised that "You must obtain informed consent from your clients prior to your telehealth session.” OTA has developed a consent form template for OTs to use within their practice. View the document here.
TAC and Telehealth Update
After significant lobbying from OTA, TAC is now implementing telehealth item codes for occupational therapists, GPs and other allied health services. The new telehealth item codes will align to current TAC face-to-face rates & can be backdated to 13 March. Learn more about the changes here.
7 April, 2020
How to Guide for Find an OT Telehealth Update
In this update and how-to guide, OTA’s Lauren Jensen provides an overview of Find an OT’s new telehealth function, and offers a walkthrough on how members can update their listing details. Watch the video here.
6 April, 2020
- From 6 April 2020, it is a legislative requirement that the new telehealth services must be bulk billed for Commonwealth concession card holders, children under 16 years old and patients who are more vulnerable to COVID-19.
- Health providers may apply their usual billing practices to the telehealth items for patients who do not fit the above criteria. Providers are expected to obtain informed financial consent from patients prior to providing the service; providing details regarding their fees, including any out-of-pocket costs.
For more information click here.
Information for all working in residential aged care
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC), the key medical decision-making committee for health emergencies, has advised that all residential aged care staff and visiting workers should be vaccinated for the flu by 1 May 2020. More information in the media release here.
3 April, 2020
New Telehealth Resource from Dr Kieran Broome
OTA is pleased to share this video from Dr Kieran Broome, Occupational Therapist, academic and private practitioner. Kieran speaks about his experiences using telehealth in occupational therapy practice including some of the opportunities, challenges and recommendations for OTs considering online services. Watch the video here.
Telehealth Guidelines from BUPA
OTA has received Telehealth Guidelines from BUPA to guide your telehealth practice. The private health funds are all independent entities, advised by but not beholden to, Private Healthcare Australia (PHA). OTA has in recent days liaised with AHPA, PHA and individual health funds, outlining those aspects of occupational therapy that can be effectively delivered by Telehealth. We will advise OTA members of each private health fund’s position as we are advised. View the Guidelines here.
Telehealth and Bulk-Bill Update
We are aware that there are concerns about the bulk bill only options under the new MBS Telehealth schedule and how this could render practices unsustainable. We have been advised by AHPA that the Health Department has stated this is a temporary arrangement, to ensure allied health care can be delivered by Telehealth immediately. When Services Australia has updated its billing system, providers will be able to charge a co-payment. Once the technology is in place, a formal announcement to this effect will be made.
2 April, 2020
New Practice Transition Resource
To help practitioners navigate the uncertainty and disruption as a result of COVID-19, we have developed a series of practice transition resources. The resources include helpful links, email templates to share with consumers, social media graphics and more. Freely access and share the page here.
1 April, 2020
DVA Telehealth Announcement
Based on the Federal Governments announcement on further changes to primary and allied healthcare arrangements in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) has updated fee schedules to allow all DVA clients to access allied health services via telehealth, where clinically necessary. View the schedules here.
31 March, 2020
Life as an OT During COVID-19: How to be a receiver (and not just a giver) of care
Mental Health OT Caroline Thain has written an article on the need for OTs to also look after their own wellbeing—particularly at the moment. “In order to take care of others who require our support, you must first make sure you are able—physically and mentally—to provide that care.” Read the full article here.
Government Announces Wage Subsidy
The Federal Government released the third stage of its economic plan to support businesses and workers through the coronavirus outbreak. This package builds on existing support delivered by all arms of Government, now totalling more than $320 billion. View OTA’s summary here
Incorrect Placement of CDM Item
Please note that the fact sheet issued yesterday from the Health Department was flawed, incorrectly placing the OT Chronic Disease Management item. The fact sheet relating to COVID-19 telehealth items for allied health has now been updated. Access the fact sheet here.
30 March, 2020
Free Q&A: Normal Life Has Been Disrupted
OTA are pleased to offer this free online Q&A session with Lorrae Mynard “Normal Life has Been Disrupted”, being held at 7pm tonight (30 March). As we have limited spaces, registrations are currently open to members. The session will be recorded and made available to the broader allied health community. More info here: http://ow.ly/TQfQ50yZ5Ma
Expansion to MBS Telehealth Services
The Hon Greg Hunt has announced the Australian Government is expanding Medicare-subsidised telehealth services for all Australians. This means that those MBS items currently delivered face to face by OTs can be delivered by telehealth, including chronic disease management, autism and eating disorders. While this is a positive outcome from the considerable advocacy work in recent weeks, AHPA and OTA will continue to advocate for more funding support for OTs and allied health services. Read the full media statement.
27 March, 2020
Telehealth Billing Details Updated
OTA have updated their telehealth resource page including billing details for DVA, NDIS, Medicare and the state compensable schemes we currently have available. We are waiting for more information from the Department of Health regarding further allied health rebates. View the updates here.
Important Update from NDIA
The latest newsletter from NDIA includes information regarding an advance payment for eligible providers. This advance payment is interest-free and will create a debt to the NDIA. You will need to opt out by 5pm AEDT today (27 March) by sending the word "NO" or "OPT OUT" in the subject line to email@example.com. Should a provider miss the opt out deadline they can contact the NDIA National Contact Centre to ask for an invoice to be made out so they can make a repayment. More information about how the payment is calculated and who is eligible can be found here.
26 March, 2020
Telehealth Update from The Hon Greg Hunt
Greg Hunt anticipates rollout of “whole-of population telehealth capacity – that means for mental health, allied health, general practice” by Monday of next week. Read the full transcript here.
AHPRA Perth Office Temporarily Closed
AHPRA has temporarily closed its Perth office but continues to operate over the phone and online. Read more here.
Remote Area Travel Restrictions
Travel restrictions for remote areas commence 11:59pm tonight. Those delivering essential services are exempt. Read more here.
Better Access to Mental Health Update from OTA
We will be prioritising Better Access to Mental Health (BAMH) applications for clinicians seeking to provide BAMH telehealth services. Please refer our BAMH webpage for details of the application process, the eligibility criteria and the evidence required for endorsement as a BAMH clinician. To avoid any delay, please make sure you have provided all information required before submitting your application. Please contact OTA if you have any queries.
Department of Health Letter to Allied Health Professionals
The Department of Health has released a letter to Allied Health Professionals to give an update on the current situation. The letter covers the following topics:
- Situation as at 25 March 2020
- Disease characteristics
- Current approach to response
- Reducing exposure in health care settings
- Personal Protective Equipment
- Gyms used for clinical treatment
The Role of Health Scienced Students in the COVID-19 Workforce
The Australian Council of Deans of Health Sciences has issued a statement on the role of health sciences students in the COVID-19 workforce. “Students in their clinical years constitute the immediate future health care workforce. It is clear that health sciences students should not be involved in high risk and high stress areas within health services. However, there is a range of roles and functions that health sciences students can contribute to supporting the health workforce both now during the pandemic and as the nation looks to recovery.”
Read the full document, including key principles (such as safety, role clarity, competency, student choice and more) to guide discussions and decisions.
25 March, 2020
Department of Health provides updates on protecting older Australians
The Department of Health has released a newsletter with advice on protecting older Australians.
The update includes:
- New process for ordering PPE supplies for Aged Care Sector
- New eLearning module for Aged Care workers now online
- Advice on visit guidelines
- Mental health resources
24 March, 2020
Expansion of Telehealth Services
The Hon Greg Hunt has released a joint media statement with information about the expansion of telehealth services. Please view the statement for information about our current stage 3 status.
Update From the OTA Board re COVID-19
Yesterday’s COVID-19 email update to members (with the policy position of the federal government and advice provided by our Professional Practice Team) has created some confusion. We have sought clarification from our OTA Board of Directors who advise members to follow relevant health department advice and also to use their judgement guided by experience, tailored to the resources available, with the safety of all at front of mind. We ask OTs to continue to innovate in how they deliver their services in the safest way possible. Read the Board’s full position here.
Find an OT Now Supports Telehealth
We have updated our Find an OT tool to enable members to promote their telehealth services. When searching for an OT, consumers can opt for telehealth options in their state, or face-to-face options near their suburb. Members can update their details and workplace (i.e. their Find an OT listing) by logging in here.
Update from DVA
The Department of Veterans’ Affairs has provided an update regarding COVID-19. Note that this is not the anticipated schedule of telehealth items for allied health professionals working with veterans—an initiative OTA will continue to advocate for. Read the update here.
23 March, 2020
Just Launched: OTA Telehealth Guidelines 2020
In response to the COVID-19 outbreak and changes in delivery of health services, OTA has released these guidelines to support members in their transition to telehealth practice. You can find the resource on our Telehealth page.
Update from Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt
OTA has just received the following advice from Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt. In light of some states shutting down ‘non-essential services’, the Minister has confirmed that ALL allied health businesses nationally can continue working and are encouraged to do so. The Minister has also indicated that the Department of Health is now developing full allied health telehealth options, along with other health and medical services, within the week. This will be part of a staged plan and he encourages providers to continue vital face-to-face services where possible. OTA will continue to update members with details as the come to hand
Update after the weekends news
We fully appreciate yesterday’s news causes more alarm and anxiety for OTs. The definition of nonessential services currently is limited. We're seeking clarification on the effect of this shutdown on OT services & will provide updates as soon as we can. We continue to strongly advocate for this vital profession. We will also be releasing new Telehealth resources today. Thank you.
20 March, 2020
Occupational Therapist and OTA Member Lorrae Mynard has published the ebook - Normal life has been disrupted: a guide for managing disruption to occupational participation. The guide presents occupational concepts of productivity, leisure, self-care, environment, routine and roles in plain language and presents suggestions and examples of how to adapt and manage the disruption to occupational participation. It was designed for use by the general public. Occupational therapists may find it a useful resource for supporting consumers with managing the present situation, and for sharing with others in their own personal and professional networks. An accompanying pdf poster is available to promote the guide. The link and/or pdf guide and poster may be shared freely. Please access these resources here.
OTA CPD and Events
*#OTexchange2020 to be Delivered Online* In light of advice regarding the cancellation of non-essential mass gatherings, the OT Exchange 2020 will now be adapted into a virtual conference. The virtual OT Exchange will still take place on 22-23 June 2020, but through an online platform. We are working with keynote speakers, presenters and exhibitors to adapt the existing program and deliver you a high quality learning and networking experience. For more information, visit the website here.
19 March, 2020
Letter from the CEO
“On behalf of OTA, I am acutely aware that occupational therapists, working as many do with physically vulnerable clients, are being particularly hard hit by the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.” Read the letter from OTA’s CEO on COVID-19 here.
OTA has been advised by AHPA that thanks to concerted lobbying by the sector over the past few days, allied health will now be included in the Federal Government’s ongoing deliberations around Telehealth and COVID-19. It is anticipated that the next meeting in this process will be convened late this week or early next week. This is an important step forward for allied health professionals and their clients. Stay informed on our COVID-19 resources page.