ACOT has fielded a few practice queries lately regarding our guidance on the Safe Delivery of OT Services During COVID-19. ACOT’s direction of continuous medical grade masking is in accordance with our public protection mandate, and is in line with the Alberta Government’s, Public Health Disease Management Guidelines: COVID-19 as well as AHS’ Guidelines for Continuous Masking (in Health Care facility/setting and the Community; see AHS’s “How the decision to keep continuous masking in place is made”). These documents are reviewed on a weekly basis to ensure ACOT’s guidance is up to date and consistent with the direction given by our partners in health.
ACOT maintains the COVID-19 practice guideline to ensure the ongoing, safe delivery of occupational therapy (OT) services in Alberta. This guideline considers that:
- A proportion of Alberta’s population is not immunized.
- While vaccination offers substantial protection against severe disease, the chance of transmitting or contracting COVID-19 is possible even with vaccinations. This is of concern given many OTs work with multiple clients, often within/across multiple work settings and with clients who are immunocompromised and/or not yet immunized.
- Continuous medical grade masking in effect for all regulated Occupational Therapists in Alberta.
- Masks are not required when working alone in a space that allows two meters distance from others.
- Except when with a client, masks can be removed for meal/drink breaks. It is recommended that you maintain a physical distance of two meters if others are present.
- Effective March 1, 2022, indoor masking is no longer a general provincial requirement except:
- on municipal and intra-provincial public transit for people 13 and older
- at AHS operated and contracted facilities and continuing care settings
- continuous masking must be followed for up to 5 days following mandatory isolation due to COVID infection for vaccinated individuals.
- You may request that your client wears a medical grade mask. However, depending on the circumstances, it may be considered unethical to decline services based on the client’s inability/unwillingness to wear a mask.
ACOT is unable to provide a timeframe for how long this guidance will be in place. ACOT continues to monitor the situation closely and adjust based on the directives, orders and guidance provided by the CMOH, Alberta Government, AHS and other allied health and physician regulatory bodies.
ACOT and Council want to acknowledge how challenging this pandemic continues to be for you and your colleagues. We wish to express our sincere gratitude for your hard work and dedication throughout this exhausting pandemic.
Please continue to reference the Safe Delivery of OT Services During COVID-19 (March 4, 2022) and Practice FAQs: The COVID-19 Pandemic (March 2022) for further details. Contact Alanna Ferguson, Acting Director of Policy and Practice if you wish to discuss this further.