Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) use
As the COVID-19 pandemic moves through different stages, advice regarding the use of PPE changes.
Speech pathologists need to follow public health orders that are in place regarding the use of PPE. Some organisations may also have their own requirements regarding PPE (e.g. residential aged care facilities, hospitals, congregate care homes etc).
At this stage (late 2022), the role of personal responsibility is at the forefront of infection control measures to minimise the spread of Sars-COV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19).
Each individual clinician must decide what PPE to use on a case-by-case basis. Some factors that should be considered include the:
- health environment (e.g. are infections such as respiratory syncytial virus or gastroenteritis prevalent in the community?)
- vulnerability of the clinician, people with communication and/or swallowing difficulties, and others (e.g. family members, classmates) to consequences of infection
- nature of the tasks being undertaken (e.g. a lengthy swallowing assessment that may elicit coughing or involve contact with saliva vs a short session of auditory discrimination treatment)
- The environment (e.g. ventilation, hand washing facilities, ability to distance)
Members can use the Association's Risk Assessment Tool to support their decision-making regarding PPE use. This tool is in the process of being reviewed.
Below are links to national and state/territory-based information about PPE and infection prevention and control.
COVID-19 Public health orders | Safe Work Australia (swa.gov.au)
PPE | Safe Work Australia (swa.gov.au)
Personal protective equipment (PPE) for the health workforce during COVID-19 | Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care
Coronavirus (COVID-19) resources for health professionals, including aged care providers, pathology providers and health care managers | Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care
Comparison of mask types for COVID-19 | Safe Work Australia (swa.gov.au)
The use of face masks and respirators in the context of COVID-19 (health.gov.au)
Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care: COVID-19 Resources
How to put on (don) and take off (doff) your personal protective equipment (PPE) (dhhs.vic.gov.au)
COVID-19 infection control training | Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care