The current Covid situation is changing rapidly so we advise all PACFA Members to check the State or Territory Health department regarding working from home and mask wearing rules for each State or Territory. We are receiving a number of questions about Telehealth and whether Counsellors and Psychotherapists are deemed to be essential workers.
The overall approach in hotspot areas is for practitioners to practice using telehealth. The latest advice from the Allied Health Professionals Association (AHPA) is that new definitions of essential services have been agreed by AHPPC and that these definitions will be rolled out across all jurisdictions. The latest WA directions provide definitions of essential health services we have included the relevant sections below:
Essential Health Services Providers
Any provider of the following services may attend work in person:
- Drug and alcohol services
The following allied health services:
- allied health services provided by allied health professionals working as essential workers in hospitals or in residential care facilities providing critical clinical care or as directed by the hospital; or
- allied health services provided by allied health professionals working in private practice providing care through telehealth and other virtual care options; or
- students, medical/nursing/midwifery/allied health on placement providing essential care in hospitals or in residential care facilities, or through telehealth;
- the conduct of human medical research trials;
- The following mental health services:
- hospital emergency or inpatient psychiatric services; or
- allied health professionals providing mental health services in hospital; or
- private consultant psychiatry practice by telehealth or by face-to-face (but only in the instance of emergency clinical care for potentially life-threatening situations where telehealth is not clinically appropriate); or
- allied health professionals providing mental health services in community settings by telehealth or by face-to-face (but only in the instance of emergency clinical care for potentially life-threatening situations where telehealth is not clinically appropriate)
Members who are employed will need to seek advice from their employer about whether their service falls within the above definition.
As the situation is evolving quickly it is advisable that PACFA Members have arrangements in place to offer telehealth. Many of you are probably already offering telehealth sessions to clients who are unwilling or unable to attend in person. For those of you who may want to start offering telehealth partnered with Coviu which is an Australian based Telehealth platform that offers a discount to PACFA Members. For more information please refer to the news item about Coviu. There is also some information which compares Telehealth platforms and some of the security considerations you can access this information by following this link to the PACFA Website page.