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 7 March 2022

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).

COVID-19 Protection Framework (CPF)

At 11.59pm 2nd December 2021, New Zealand moved to the COVID-19 Protection Framework (CPF), also known as the traffic light system. The Order establishing the requirements that apply at different alert levels is the COVID-19 Public Health Response (Protection Framework) Order 2021 (referred to as the Order).

The Ministry of Health has provided this flowchart to clarify who is exempt under the Order. However, the Order itself is the definitive source of information and prevails if there is any inconsistency. NZSTA has developed an accompaniment flow chart to sit alongside the CPF guidance for allied health to reflect the diverse settings that speech-language therapists work in.

In summary, speech-language therapy services that meet the criteria as defined in the Order are exempt from the Order, except for some requirements as provided in clauses 31-33.

Please note that these rules do not affect obligations to ensure workers covered by the COVID-19 Public Health Response (Vaccinations) Order 2021 are vaccinated to perform work.

The Ministry of Health has developed a position statement on the management of unvaccinated individuals in healthcare settings.

Covid-19 Protection Framework – Services
Covid-19 Advice All Health Professionals
Covid-19 Advice Community Allied Health Scientific and Technical Providers

Advice for SLTs working in the community

With the new COVID Protection Framework in place, we released new guidance for SLTs working in the community on 24 January 2022 – here

Latest health questions to ask patients – here

Advice for hospital based SLTs

We have a number of key documents to support SLTs working in DHBs:

  • NZSTA new COVID-19 Protection Framework guidance for SLTs working in hospitals: click here
  • MoH guidance on working out when to see a patient in person: click here
  • NZSTA guide for clinical swallowing evaluation without CRT and FEES: click here

The guidelines were developed in consultation with the NZSTA and the SLT Health Leaders Group and released to all members 15 December 2021. This guidance is specific to the tasks conducted by speech-language therapists (SLTs) and should always be following alongside Government and DHB level policies and recommendations.

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. These were updated on 15 December 2021.

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

NZSTA advice on general infection control standards was updated on 15 December 2021 – watch video

Awhina App for ongoing updates for health workers

MoH advice on PPE for health and disability workers

Transparent face masks

 

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.

Communication resources for understanding and staying safe from COVID-19

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

Working with people with COVID-19

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

This document prepared jointly between the Ministry of Health and AHANZ guides the rehabilitation of people with or recovering from COVID-19 in Aotearoa New Zealand.