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COVID-19 Update – 25 March, 2020

Rest Homes/ Aged Care Facilities – Guidance for Physiotherapists

We are receiving a number of questions regarding

  • physiotherapists providing services to rest homes and aged residential care facilities; and
  • Responsibilities of physiotherapists supervising physiotherapy assistants.

The latest information on the covid19 website (as at 12.30 pm 25 March 2020) includes the following services within the definition of essential service:

  • Any person employed or contracted as a doctor, nurse, midwife, pharmacist, paramedic, medical laboratory scientists, kaiāwhina workers, social workers, aged care and community workers, and caregivers more generally
  • Hospitals, primary care clinics, pharmacies, medical laboratories, care facilities (e.g. rest homes)

Rest Homes and Aged Care Facilities

As stated above rest homes and aged care facilities are an essential service.

Whether physiotherapists should continue to provide services to rest homes and aged care facilities depends on the nature of the services requested and how they will be delivered:

  • Rest homes and aged care facilities should discuss the physiotherapy services they require with the physiotherapist
  • The physiotherapist then needs to exercise their clinical judgement as to whether the service requested is essential having regard to need, urgency, and the requirement to assess risks to the health of the residents and the physiotherapist’s health and safety obligations towards their workforce.
  • If the physiotherapist agrees the request is essential, and cannot be delivered effectively by other means, such as via telehealth facilities, then they comply with the facility infection control requirements and provide the requested service


Supervision of Physiotherapy Assistants by Physiotherapists

As above, the judgement of what services physiotherapy assistants are providing is determined by the physiotherapist.  The decision will be based on if it is essential or whether it can wait.

Supervision is required and the key here is it needs to be appropriate supervision. Consideration of whether this is undertaken remotely or otherwise is again a clinical judgement based on what is being done.

The overriding message is that reduction of contact is vital in order to avoid the spread of COVID-19.  The elderly are among the most vulnerable so contact needs to be avoided wherever this is possible.
There will continue to be queries and one off situations – we are happy to discuss and provide guidance so please contact us on physio@physioboard.org.nz

Noho ora mai,

Janice Mueller
Chairperson (Physiotherapy Board)

Jeanette Woltman-Black
Chief Executive (Physiotherapy Board)

Physiotherapy Board

Level 10
Todd Building
95 Customhouse Quay
Wellington 6011

PO Box 10734
Wellington 6143
New Zealand



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