Information regarding COVID-19

We are closely monitoring the evolving COVID-19 situation through official channels including Unite Against COVID-19, the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization.

Our priority is the safety and well-being of NZSTA members, their families, our students, our volunteers, and the communities we work in. We know that the pandemic will have impacts on all of us and we want to be a source of support, information, and encouragement during this time.

We will be updating this page frequently.

Last updated 17 September 2021

The NZSTA and all speech-language therapists across the country continue to contribute to our communities as the pandemic continues worldwide. We have recently been asked for our Position on the potential redeployment of speech-language therapists into the vaccination roll-out process. We have issued the following Statement (15 February 2021).

Communication resources for understanding and staying safe from COVID-19

Resources for helping understand, explain, and talking about the coronavirus – click here

Guidance for Rehabilitation

The new document prepared jointly between the Ministry of Health and AHANZ on the rehabilitation of people with or recovering from COVID-19 in Aotearoa New Zealand has now been published and is available to view.

Level 1 guidance for SLTs

Here is the official Level 1 guidance from the Ministry of Health for allied health professionals, June 2020.

Updated advice from Ministry of Health regarding allied health, including information about PPE

Advice updated 7 October 2020

Awhina App for ongoing updates for health workers

Level 2 Advice for SLTs working in the community

We released guidelines for speech-language therapists working in the community on 14 May 2020. These have been revised as of 7 September 2021. View here

Latest health questions to ask patients – here

Level 3/4 guidance for SLTs

Our work lives at alert level 3 are very similar to alert level 4. Essential speech-language therapy services should continue to occur with appropriate precautions to reduce the risk of viral transmission. In many settings and situations, speech-language therapy is an essential service for communication and swallowing and it is our role to advocate for our clients. Speech-language therapists should continue to work remotely through telepractice where able. Contactless delivery of communication equipment, once properly sanitised, should still occur.

Advice for hospital based SLTs

We have two documents to support SLTs working in DHBs:

  • NZSTA guide for clinical swallowing evaluation without CRT and FEES: click here
  • NZSTA COVID-19 guide for level 3/4 for DHB SLTs : click here

The guidelines were developed in consultation with the NZSTA and the SLT Health Leaders Group and released to all members 1 May 2020; Revised in August 2021. This guidance is specific to the tasks conducted by speech-language therapists (SLTs) and should always be followed alongside Government and DHB level policies and recommendations.

The following video provides a summary of the current understanding of COVID-19 and dysphagia and dysphonia. The presentation was aired on 2 Sept 2021 and was to created to support SLTs working with patients with COVID-19 in New Zealand. Watch video

Infection control for all COVID-19 levels

It is our professional duty to stay up-to-date and prioritise the health and safety of our communities and clients.

NZSTA advice on general infection control standards – watch video

Workplace and ventilation guidance for speech-language therapists

Whether you are working in your own clinic space or one allocated for you at the workplaces that you work within, you may want to read the government property workplace guidelines including the guidance on good ventilation.

The UK Breathe Freely information and ventilation tool is a great resource to review the safety of your workplace.

Universal requirements

We all need to follow the public health advice around hand washing, maintaining a social distance of 2 metres, and sanitising all surfaces that have been in recent contact with others.

It is currently best practice to maintain a log of everyone you encounter both your personal and professional lives. We can assist contact tracing efforts by having a well-maintained log of every close contact including names, dates, times, locations, names, and ideally an email or phone number.

NZSTA PPE information specific for SLT

Here is a link to the NZSTA Infection Control Standards for usual practice (outside of a pandemic) and these may be useful for you in your discussions.

The level of PPE recommended for SLTs depends on

  1. a) the activity you are performing and
  2. b) the infection status of your client / patient. The NZSTA Infection Control Standards offers advice on typical PPE for SLT interventions. Please use this guide in your discussions with your infection control team and medical colleagues if you are conducting face-to-face consults.