Providing essential Occupational Therapy Home Visiting Services during COVID-19 pandemic in Perth Western Australia

Mrs Angela Wigham1

1Royal Perth Teaching Hospital, East Metropolitan health Service   , Perth, Australia

Introduction

During  the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Government of Western Australia introduced restrictions to minimise risk of COVID-19 spread in WA.  It remained essential that Home Visiting Occupational Therapists (OT) continue facilitation of patients’ safe discharge hospital to home.

Method

Existing practice was back to back visits. To decrease risk of cross infection this was reduced to essential visits only.

Changes to existing model of practice were identified and implemented, with consideration of the following:

  1. Safety completing Occupational Therapy home assessments during COVID-19?
  2. Essential only visits completed?
  3. Managing non-essential referrals?
  4. Telephone assessments, education and equipment provision safety without physical contact visits?
  5. Enhancement of infection prevention and control?

Questions during booking and prior to home visits

Have you or others had contact with anyone with the following?

  1. a) Symptoms of fever, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath?
  2. b) Contact with anyone travelling from overseas?

Results

New model of practice implemented. Non-essential visits addressed using communication digital health modality:

  • OT telephoned patient/ family gathering information.
  • Family assistance sought to gather information for elderly patients.
  • Booked video links to view the home.
  • Requested photographs/video of home environment.
  • Directed required measurements.
  • Patient education completed verbally, additional information emailed, attached to equipment or posted.

Outcome

The new model of practice was successful as the home visiting service continued to facilitate safe discharge from hospital to home. No cross infection or adverse effects occurred. Resources improved with less time spent on travelling and timelier OT interventions.


Biography:

A Senior Occupational Therapist with thirty years clinical experience, presently specialising in the area of Domiciliary Care,  Royal Perth Hospital, Western Australia. The clinical role facilitates safe discharge from hospital to home with completion of Home Assessments in the community. The caseload also addresses community referrals for patients up to three months post hospital discharge.  Having worked in a variety of different health areas both in the United Kingdom and Western Australia, I have developed specialist clinical and managerial skills. I have a solid foundation for service development and provide high quality patient care incorporating the best evidence based practice.

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