Learnings, benefits and challenges in the implementation of a unique Allied Health Model of Care for patients in isolated COVID-19 wards

Mrs Tegan Bell1

1Austin Health, Heidelberg , Australia

With COVID-19 being highly transmissible, Austin Health isolated suspected and confirmed coronavirus patients in dedicated wards. To provide best practice care while minimising our movements in these secure wards, allied health needed to be dynamic and innovative to create a model of care for this patient cohort.

With short notice we formed our unique COVID-19 Allied Health Team who provided an interdisciplinary model of care. Our model was based on our General Medicine Allied Health Interdisciplinary Practitioner service. Our team was coordinated and lead by a senior occupational therapist, and included physiotherapists, social workers, speech pathologists, dieticians, and spiritual care workers.

Patient care that could be provided remotely was done so using electric programs, phones and videoconferencing on wheels (VOWs). A physiotherapist, occupational therapist and allied health assistant provided direct patient care on the wards, while also providing other discipline specific care as delegated or supervised by the treating discipline via VOWs. Interdisciplinary competencies were completed through education and training sessions.

This model of care enabled allied health clinicians to be innovative in the way they completed assessments and provided interventions during such an everchanging and unpredictable time in healthcare. Notable benefits of this model included, better appreciation and understanding of different disciplines roles, and most importantly the significant collaboration of allied health in providing comprehensive patient centred care.

Challenges we encountered were associated with ward participation, time efficiencies, the degree of communication involved and some technology challenges.


Tegan is a Senior Occupational Therapist and Team Leader of the Acute Occupational Therapy Complex Assessment and Planning Team at Austin Health.

Tegan has a Masters in Health Science (Stroke Management) and an interest in chronic disease and public health.

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