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New COVID-19 Guidance for Occupational Therapists

March 20, 2020

Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health has issued a directive to all regulated health professions, directing that all non-essential and elective services should be ceased or reduced to minimal levels, subject to allowable exceptions, until further notice.

At this time, we are recommending that occupational therapists review all the direct client services they currently provide to determine if or how they can be provided safely. Sector specific guidance has been developed by the Ministry of Health for health care professionals and this should be referenced for the most up-to-date information.

How do I know what services to continue and which to defer?
Official guidance is evolving rapidly, and there is no one size fits all approach to this question. Listed below are some guiding questions to consider when making clinical judgments and ethical decisions about continuing care with clients.

Questions to Consider:

  • Have I prioritized clients according to their individual risk?
  • What are the possible consequences to the client if I do not provide the service?
  • If a client does not receive occupational therapy service at this time will they deteriorate and be at risk for hospitalization or further use of the health care system?
  • Can I meet some of the clients needs using alternative means for occupational therapy service, for example, virtual or phone check-in, as a way of bridging service?
  • Can I work with my other health system partners and referral sources to identify clients with urgent needs?
  • Does my organization have pandemic tools and resources to help me make decisions about service priorities?

The College has been engaging in further discussions with the Ministry of Health. The direction that the College provided to occupational therapists concerning personal protective equipment (PPE) has been revised. Based on practice setting, the occupational therapist should refer to the sector-specific guidance documents from the Ministry of Health. This information may change frequently, please check their website regularly for updates.

The College's Practice team is here to support you during these challenging times. Please be patient with us as we are experiencing a high volume of calls and emails. You can call us at 1.800.890.6570 ext 240, or send an email to practice@coto.org.