Information and guidelines for the community allied health sector.
Last updated: 14 October 2021
On this page:
- General advice for community allied health, scientific and technical professions
- Advice for community allied health, scientific and technical providers in Alert Level 4
- Advice for community allied health, scientific and technical providers in Alert Level 3
- Advice for community allied health, scientific and technical providers in Alert Level 2
- Guidance for the rehabilitation of people with or recovering from COVID-19 in Aotearoa New Zealand
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.
Personal protective equipment (PPE) – use of and where to get
The best defence against COVID-19 are basic hygiene measures, which include:
- cough or sneeze into your elbow or by covering your mouth and nose with tissues
- put used tissues in the bin or a bag immediately
- wash your hands with soap and water often (for at least 20 seconds)
- avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth
- clean surfaces regularly.
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 (in particular if there is likely to be contact with bodily fluids).
If you cannot get PPE from your usual supplier, contact the emergency management officer at your local district health board (DHB).
Information and guidance can be found at Personal protective equipment use in health care.
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.
The move to Alert Level 4 has given us the opportunity to review access to services in light of the Delta variant of COVID-19. This notice intends to minimise the confusion of multiple messages.
- The Alert Level 4 health services scope of provision is to preserve life or limb only
- Alert Level 4 is an emergency measure and has been put in place to prevent transmission
- Health service provision should not be face to face other than to preserve life or limb
- Where possible all consultations should be by phone or video
Further information for clarification is available, please contact your clinical leaders or professional bodies for detail.
We must not underestimate the transmissibility of the Delta variant – this is significantly different to the last outbreak. If your patient needs are urgent or acute and cannot be assessed, or treated over the phone or by video, please contact your local DHB and refer them to these services.
This status will not change until the Alert Levels drop and face to face consultations resume. Please consider your scope of practice and develop and prepare alternate care plans, and connect with your colleagues. We need to continue to protect each other, reduce risk and prevent transmission.
At Alert Level 3, virtual appointments should be provided where possible as the preferred method of service delivery.
Face-to-face appointments may be provided for urgent care only so long as clinicians can take appropriate measures to manage public health.
Urgent care for community allied health is defined as:
- a condition which is life or limb threatening; or
- treatment required to maintain the basic necessities of life; or
- treatment that cannot be delayed or carried out remotely without risk of significant harm or permanent and/or significant disability, or
- where failure to access services will lead to an acute deterioration of a known condition; or
- where delay in access to services will impact the consumer’s ability to maintain functional independence and significantly negatively impact quality of life
- which cannot be delivered by a service which is currently operating or by clinicians that are already in contact with the patient for ongoing care.
Please refer to the following guidance for full information.
- COVID-19 Guidance for Community Allied Health, Scientific and Technical Providers in Alert Level 3 (PDF, 133 KB)
- COVID-19 Guidance for Community Allied Health, Scientific and Technical Providers in Alert Level 3 (Word, 184 KB)
- Updated 30 August 2021
Precautions to take when providing face-to-face care
If a person does require a face to face consultation the following precautions should be taken:
- screening for COVID-19 symptoms prior to face to face appointment
- practice good infection prevention control procedures
- use the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE)
- keep accurate documentation of the appointment to aid contact tracing if required.
- ensure that your place of work is registered with the NZ COVID Tracer App and that the poster with the unique QR code is clearly displayed at the entrance to your premises.
People should stay home if they are unwell. You can support this by doing a risk assessment prior to face-to-face appointments, by phone or use signage asking them not to attend if unwell. If you cannot do this before you see them, try to stay 1 metre physical distance while assessing their health.
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
Some community District Health Board mental health services, such as urgent/crisis mental health services are continuing with face-to-face appointments as normal during Alert Level 3.
Non-DHB providers should see patients face-to-face for urgent care only.
Clinical reasoning and risk assessment remain the fundamental principles for considering care at Alert Level 2. Telehealth and virtual appointments are still the preferred option and 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:
- screening for COVID-19 symptoms prior to face-to-face appointment
- physical distancing measures
- infection prevention control measures including PPE where required.
- Transmission precaution measures including consideration of ventilation
When considering travel within and between regions ensure all risks have been taken into account before undertaking to provide care to patients and traveling to receive training.
Group treatment (eg, exercise classes) can occur so long as physical distancing is in place.
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.