South Australia and COVID-19

Public activities direction update – 5 December 2020

An update has been made to public activity restrictions in South Australia.

The Emergency Management (Public Activities No 15) (COVID-19) Direction 2020 came into effect as of 5.50pm Friday 4 December.

The new Direction includes changes to density requirements for hospitality premises and updates restrictions around private functions, weddings and funerals.

The new Direction and updated frequently asked questions are online.

Masks in health care settings

All people in health care settings must wear a mask (covering mouth and nose) at all times when in the physical presence of other people on the premises. A person will be considered to be in the physical presence of another person if they are in the same room as that other person.

Reusable cloth masks can now be accepted in some health care settings. Single-use surgical masks should be worn in some clinical environments.

There are exceptions for mandatory mask use in health care settings. This includes situations where a mask will hinder the provision of care or communication, there is a relevant medical condition or the person is under 12. A live-in staff member or a resident of a residential care facility are not required to wear a mask. Hospital inpatients are generally not expected to wear masks except when being transported through public spaces.

Find more information and resources about masks use online. 

As previously advised, Members are encouraged to also refer to the Association’s Guidance for Service Delivery, Risk Assessment Tool, and Telehealth resources.

Information for South Australian allied health providers

The grace period for these directives has been extended by SA Health to Saturday 0001hrs 5 December 2020.

The South Australian Government have provided the following information for allied health providers:

As of 1 December 2020:

  1. All healthcare settings will be required to have a COVID Safe Plan. This directive applies to speech pathologists working in public and private settings. The COVID Safe plan for healthcare settings must include a contact tracing system, such as the COVID Safe Check-In. There will be initial 72 hour exemption period from 1 December as healthcare settings establish this. More information on COVID Safe plans is available online.
  2. All people (including care providers, patients, clients, residents, administrative and other staff, employees, visitors, students, contractors and any other person on the premises at which the service is provided must wear a mask (covering mouth and nose) at all times when in the physical presence of other persons on the premises. Providers should wear a single use surgical mask. SA Health have advised clients and visitors can wear cloth masks.

There are exceptions to mask wearing in some situations:

  • a patient, resident or client and/or a person providing care if, in the provider or carer’s professional opinion, the wearing of a mask will hinder the provision of the relevant care; and
  • any person who is affected by a relevant medical condition, including problems with their breathing, a serious condition of the face, a disability or a mental health condition; and
  • to enable communication by or with any person who is deaf or hard of hearing, where the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication; and
  • a patient, resident or client under the age of 12; and
  • a resident or live-in staff member of a residential care facility, including in circumstances in which it is not possible to comply with the physical distancing principle.

For more information, view the Masks Directive from SA Health for AHPS, visit the SA Legislation Covid-19 Declarations and Directions and read through the FAQs for the mandatory mask use in health care settings.

Members in South Australia are strongly advised to view the Association’s Guidance for Service Delivery and Risk Assessment Tool to help them identify potential risks and provide recommendations for risk management.

Individual Primary Health Care Networks (PHNs) have processes in place to provide access to PPE for allied health providers. If you have a demonstrated need, contact your PHN region.

Telehealth may be an appropriate method of service delivery at this time. For more details see the Association’s Telepractice resources.

Mandatory mask wearing from 1 December 2020

SA Health have indicated that “from 12.01 am 1 December 2020, all people in health care settings must wear a single-use surgical mask (covering mouth and nose) at all times when in the physical presence of other people on the premises.

The Emergency Management (Public Activities No 13) (COVID-19) Direction 2020 dated 1/12/2020 includes details around mandatory mask use in health care settings.

All people in health care settings are required to wear a mask while in the physical presence of other people. This includes:

  • care providers
  • patients
  • clients
  • residents
  • administrative and other staff
  • employees
  • visitors
  • students
  • contractors and
  • any other person present on site.

A 72 hour exemption has be provided to allow providers to get systems in place.

Further detail is available on the SA Health website

Changes in South Australia’s Stay at Home directions

As an update to changes in South Australia’s Stay at Home directions and return to face-to-face services, the advice from the Chief Public Health Officer is that all allied health professionals are to wear masks at work and follow the guidance in the use of PPE

All Allied Health businesses are encouraged to have a Voluntary COVID-19 Safe Plan, however while it is not mandatory, the Association strongly recommends members have a COVID Safe plan in place to protect them, their colleagues, clients and the community.

In a general message to South Australians, the state government has advised the following:

COVID-19 mask advice

To further protect our community from COVID-19, people are strongly advised to wear a face mask whenever they can't keep 1.5 metres from other people. Places people should wear a mask:

  • shopping centres
  • supermarkets
  • hospital, health, or aged care sites
  • on public transport.

Further information is available online.

New contact tracing data

As announced on Friday, based on new contact tracing data, the South Australian Government plans to lift the six-day lock down early. As of 12.01am on Sunday 22 November, the Stay at Home direction will be lifted.

The Association has been advised that allied health, including speech pathologists, can resume face-to-face services from Sunday, providing you have a COVID-safe plan in place, maintain social distancing, apply infection control practices and risk assessments, and continue to use telehealth where possible. These are similar restrictions to what was in place as of Monday 16 November.

Speech pathologist requested to help with COVID-19 testing

The Allied and Scientific Health Office in SA Health, is seeking expressions of interest (EOI) from allied health professionals who are available to provide assistance in COVID testing clinics.

Roles will involve either swab testing or scribing. This may be of interest to allied health practitioners including physiotherapists and speech pathologists in private practices who are unable to work under current restrictions. While some staff may be sought in regional areas, at present the demand is highest in the metropolitan area.

Interested staff should email SA Health providing:

  1. Full name
  2. Profession
  3. Registration details (as appropriate)
  4. Contact mobile
  5. Contact email
  6. Current place and hours of employment

In addition, information is sought regarding whether or not interested individuals have current:

  1. National Police Check
  2. Working with Children Check
  3. FIT testing (mask)
  4. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) training.

Individuals will be contacted by SA Health if required, and could be called upon at any point in the near future, at short notice.

COVID-19 Update for SA Members

Following announcements of the South Australia (SA) six-day lock-down yesterday, the SA Government has now made an official statement around Stay-at-Home declarations as well as reference to allied health under the Emergency Management (COVID-19) (Stay at Home) Direction 2020, which came into effect from 12.01 am today Thursday 19 November and ends at 12.01 am on 25 November. View further detail online.

The information includes that people can access and/or leave home for ‘essential health services’ which is defined under Schedule 1 of the linked material above. Schedule 1 refers to allied health (which includes Speech Pathology services) and defines essential health services in the following contexts only:

  • allied health services provided by allied health professionals working as essential workers in hospitals providing critical clinical care or as directed by the hospital;
  • allied health services provided by allied health professionals working in private practice providing care through telehealth and other virtual care options;
  • students, medical/nursing/midwifery/allied health on placement providing essential care in hospitals or through telehealth.

As stated in previous SA member Facebook posts, these six-day exemptions in relation to allied health do not include:

  1. Any other allied health professionals other than above
  2. Any students other than the above.

Refer to the FAQ for detail.

Clarification has also being sought in relation to allied health (including speech pathology) services within aged care facilities.

Allied Health services can be provided to residents in Residential Aged Care Facilities, but if doing so, speech pathologists must let each facility know that they are visiting other facilities, with these details to be registered by the RACF.

The advice from the Emergency Management (Residential Aged Care Facilities No 13) includes that:

- a person who provides nursing, medical, allied health or personal care services to a resident at a RACF must wear appropriate personal protective equipment, in accordance with the Australian Guidelines, at any time that they are providing those services and cannot maintain a distance of more than 1.5 metres from the resident.

Members are advised that allied health professionals should not be considered by the facility as a ‘visitor’. It has been reinforced in the following Aged Care industry code that residents retain the right to access required medical care and that providers needed to facilitate this access, including if it is needed to be done by telehealth.

SA Health – Urgent Request (Private speech pathologists)

SA Health is seeking speech pathologists who won't be working in their private practices for the next six days, who can assist with duties in relation to COVID-19 testing including swabbing, or be trained to swab.

Members should email the Association and supply their name, email address, and suburb/town. These details will be passed onto SA Health who will contact members directly.

Important resources

Members are encourage to also reference the Association’s Guidance for Service Delivery, Risk Assessment Tool, and Telehealth resources.

Further update for South Australian speech pathologists

To be announced by the Chief Public Health Officer shortly, please find the information below as provided by the SA Chief Allied & Scientific Health Officer, Catherine Turnbull.

The intent is for all of the South Australian community to stay home unless for an emergency or for groceries or urgent medical care.

The following applies to speech pathology services:

Exempt from the current 6 day order

  1. Allied health professionals working as essential workers in hospitals providing critical clinical care or as directed by the hospital
  2. Allied health professionals working in private practice providing care through telehealth and other virtual care options
  3. Allied health professionals providing mental health services, being provided in hospital or telehealth
  4. Students, medical/nursing/midwifery/allied health on placement providing essential care in hospitals or through telehealth

Not exempt from 6 day order

  1. Any other allied health professionals other than above
  2. Any students other than the above

Official information and any further details will be provided when available.

Please refer also to the SPA website for the Speech Pathology COVID-19 Guidance information including the Association’s Guidance on Service Delivery, Clinical Procedures and Infection Control during COVID-19 and also the Telepractice Resources for delivering services via Telepractice.

Members are encourage to also reference the Association’s Guidance for Service Delivery, Risk Assessment Tool, and Telehealth resources.

South Australia Lockdown for 6 days – announced today

The Association is aiming to identify what this specifically means for speech pathology services and will bring this information to SA members as soon as known. The following is general restrictions advice from SA Government via media updates..

South Australia's lockdown explained

From midnight tonight (November 18), the following are closed for six days:

  • All schools (except for children of essential workers:
  • Takeaway food and universities
  • Pubs, cafes, food courts
  • Elective surgery
  • Open inspections/auctions
  • Outdoor sport/physical activity
  • FIFO work - regional travel
  • Aged care and disability residential care in lockdown
  • Factories closed
  • Construction industry closed
  • No holiday homes
  • Weddings and funerals banned for six days
  • Masks will be required in all areas outside the home
  • Exercise not permitted outside of the house

From midnight tonight (November 18), the following will still be open:

  • Critical infrastructure
  • Supermarkets
  • Specific access to vulnerable members of community
  • Medical including mental health
  • Airport and freight services
  • Petrol stations
  • Post offices and financial institutions
  • Mining