Coronavirus (COVID-19)

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COVID 19 Therapy and Complex Care

COVID 19 Therapy and Complex Care

Update from the Children and Young People’s Therapy and Complex Care service teams Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust

As schools begin to open up to more children this half term we wanted to update you on the integrated therapy service.

New guidance was issued 3 June regarding the restoration of community health services for children and young people as part of the second phase NHS response. This informs the services we are able to provide to your school.

The majority of speech and language therapists have now returned back to the service from redeployment but a number of OTs and Physio remain re-deployed and working in the hospitals.

Infection prevention and control and social distancing remain essential to stop the spread of the virus and to keep everyone safe. This means we continue to offer support in a number of different ways during the pandemic and where possible this will remain as remote contact.

Children and young people with an EHCP

SEND children and young people with an EHCP are a priority and we are ensuring that we have therapeutic contact with every child and their family/school before the start of the autumn term. In most cases and where possible, this will remain as virtual support, although some children will need to have a face to face contact especially if this is around equipment needs, updating physio programmes where a physical need has changed or where a health or educational need has changed in response to Covid-19.

If therapists do come into your school we will maintain the 2m distance wherever possible. However this is not always possible in the delivery of therapy and we will need to wear full PPE in these cases. Our PPE will consist of an apron, gloves, surgical mask and eye protection (goggle or face shield). We will also need the facilities to dispose of our PPE at the school.

Many of our assessments and therapy equipment or toys do not comply adequately with infection control guidelines and we do not have the ability to clean them adequately especially if they are books or paper based assessments. Therefore at present our advice, therapy input and assessments will be based on the information provided by school staff and parents and from face to face or video contact. This is a change in the way we have previously conducted some of our initial assessments or updated information for the purpose of annual review etc.

Children and young people without an EHCP

We are continuing to provide advice for school and parents by phone. All schools and parents/carers can contact the service on our main therapy number 01296 566045 and a therapist will be able to provide advice and support or signpost to resources.

Urgent and essential new referrals will be prioritised for contact with a therapist. These include hospital discharges, deteriorating or changing conditions, equipment needs (e.g. seating, standing frames, AAC), new cochlear implants, post cleft palate surgery and specific conditions such as chronic fatigue, acquired brain injury, dysfluency, selective mutism or neurological concerns such as cerebral palsy or dystrophies.

Routine referrals will be directed towards telephone advice and resources. Where you might usually refer a child for an OT school advice clinic or book onto a joint advice session with SLT, you will be able to contact the service by phone to get the advice instead.

Children who were referred and accepted onto our waiting list before 16 March 2020 are being contacted by a therapist in date order to offer advice and support and those children who are already actively receiving therapy support are risk assessed and prioritised for contact or they can contact us by phone. In line with many services we are not offering face to face clinic appointments but those with a high clinical priority are having home visits when this is necessary.

Next steps

We continue to review how we deliver services across all three therapies as restoration of services continue and we enter into new phases. The return of more children to schools and nurseries in September will inform some of our decisions and we are keen to work closely with schools about how we can best deliver support in line with how you will need to operate. The move to more virtual therapy, advice and training offers some new and exciting opportunities for the next academic year and we have had some very positive feedback about some of the virtual work we are already piloting.

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