Agile collaboration: State-wide Physiotherapy Responses to the WA COVID19 Pandemic

Adjunct Associate Professor Robyn Timms1

1WA Physiotherapy, Perth, Australia

As the enormity of the COVID19 pandemic on society dawned on the world, WA Physiotherapists networked rapidly to address the anticipated challenges. This poster describes the collaborative actions of the Physiotherapy Departments of WA and their impact. Physiotherapists reached far beyond the individual hospital walls and across Area Health Services, as well as assisting colleagues in the private and non-government sectors.

As early reports of uncontrolled community transmission of COVID19 exposed overwhelmed health services, the need for increased numbers of intensive care and complex respiratory competent staff to respond to the predicted upsurge in patient admissions was needed. Also a plan for reported 25-50% staff infection rates was imperative.

All WA public hospital Physiotherapy Departments instigated broad scaled programs of critical care and respiratory physiotherapy training for example. Significant numbers of Physiotherapist were upskilled rapidly across the state. Additional recruitment was centrally coordinated together as well as site-specific recruitment.

Physiotherapy protocols were shared and remote education developed for WACHS. An online Community of Practice was initiated to address the emerging recognition internationally of post-acute care needs associated with very early hospital discharge and clinical sequelae of the disease. These efforts were supported by collaborative discussions regarding physiotherapy specific practice in response to rapidly evolving infection control guidelines. Physiotherapists collaborated with colleagues state-wide to troubleshoot local ICU, respiratory, and rehabilitation challenges for example.

Research confirmed persistent physical and psychological impairments, regardless of disease severity. This highlighted the need for Physiotherapy rehabilitation and investment in long follow-u.


Head of Department Physiotherapy Fiona Stanley Fremantle Hospital Group on behalf of WA Physiotherapists in the WA Public Sector

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