COVID-19: Advice for community allied health, scientific and technical providers

Information and guidelines for the community allied health sector.

Last updated: 27 January 2022

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Health workers can download the Āwhina app to stay up-to-date on the latest information relevant to COVID-19 and the health and disability sector.


General advice

For everyone in the community the best defence methods to protect people against COVID-19 include:

  • getting vaccinated
  • staying home if you have COVID-19 symptoms
  • using basic hygiene
  • wearing a mask
  • recording your movements
  • physical distancing

Read more about ways to protect yourself and others and about the COVID-19 Protection Framework.


Guidance for allied health professionals in the COVID-19 Protection Framework

The COVID-19 Protection Framework, the traffic light system, is replacing Alert levels. The COVID-19 Public Health Response (Protection Framework) Order 2021 establishes the requirements that apply at different settings. The Order aims to manage the effects of COVID-19 and implements the traffic light system.

A decision flow chart is provided below to provide guidance for Allied Health providers. However, the Order itself is the definitive source of information and prevails if there is any inconsistency


Risk assessment

Clinical reasoning and risk assessment remain the fundamental principles for considering how to provide care for patients. With COVID-19 in the community telehealth and virtual appointments are the preferred option if possible. Please exercise extra caution when treating vulnerable groups

Clinicians will be able to see patients face to face if the following processes are in place:

People should stay home if they are unwell. You can support this by using signage asking them not to attend if unwell. If you cannot do this before you see them, try to keep one metre  of physical distance while assessing their health.

Be familiar with the guidance of the COVID-19 Protection Framework


Personal protective equipment (PPE)

Clinicians should assess the infection risk with their patient before a face-to-face visit. This will allow clinicians to assess their own PPE requirements and their patients’ requirements before commencing face-to-face treatment. 

The level of PPE required for clinician and patient depends on the infection risk of the patient, and the nature of the care provided.

If you cannot get PPE from your usual supplier, contact the emergency management officer at your local district health board (DHB).

There is information and guidance on PPE at Personal protective equipment use in health care and specific PPE respiratory physiotherapy guidelines below.


Cleaning

Normal cleaning practices are required when treating non COVID-19 patients, however you may wish to clean more regularly than normal.

Avoid sharing resources between patients, if you must share, clean thoroughly between use.

You should not be treating people who are a probable or confirmed case of COVID-19 unless they require urgent treatment that cannot be delivered by a service elsewhere or by a clinician already in contact with the patient. There are extra cleaning precautions for rooms where a person is a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19.

You should always have good hygiene practices in place. This is your best defence against any viral illness, including the common cold, influenza and COVID-19.

Basic hygiene measures include:

  • frequent hand washing with soap and water
  • cough and sneeze etiquette
  • clean surfaces regularly, including those touched by patients
  • stay home if unwell. All staff should be encouraged to stay away if unwell.

Further advice

COVID-19 Community Response Framework

The COVID-19 Community Response Framework provides some guidance and considerations for primary care, community-based health services, residential care, community pharmacy, maternity, population health services and ambulance services.

The Framework has been updated following the introduction of the Government traffic light system on 3 December 2021. It recognises that 100 percent of the health workforce and almost 90 percent of the country are vaccinated against COVID-19.

It is important that health services continue to be delivered at all levels, with the least restrictions and in a safe environment.

Get full details on the COVID-19 Community Response Framework page.

Travel within and between regions

Ensure all risks have been accounted for before undertaking to provide care to patients and traveling to receive training.

Group treatment

Group treatment, such as exercise classes, can occur so long as the guidance for the COVID-19 Protection Framework are followed, such as physical distancing, mask wearing and group size.

Injuries caused by accidents

If someone sustains an injury that is deemed to require urgent care and treatment that cannot be delivered virtually or by a service that is currently operating, then a face-to-face consultation with appropriate public health measures can occur. Further advice about injury management during the COVID-19 pandemic can be found on the ACC website – COVID-19.

Mental health providers

When the risk of COVID-19 in the community is elevated, some community District Health Board mental health services, such as urgent/crisis mental health services are continuing with face-to-face appointments as normal. Be familiar with the guidance of the COVID-19 Protection Framework


Guidance for the rehabilitation of people with or recovering from COVID-19 in Aotearoa New Zealand

The purpose of this document is to highlight the complexity and potential long-term needs of people recovering from COVID-19 and to demonstrate the importance of the allied, scientific and technical workforce in reducing the short- and long-term health and wellbeing implications of COVID-19 infection.


Minimising risks of COVID-19 transmission in medical imaging rooms

This document provides guidance for medical imaging departments in a hospital setting to manage suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients.

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