As citizens and frontline health care professionals, occupational therapists need to be well informed about precautions and protocols that mitigate risks of contact with or spread of the coronavirus. SAOT recognizes the extraordinary pressures members are experiencing both in their day to day lives and as related to their work. The Society is making every effort to provide current, useful information to facilitate your planning and decision-making and to frame our services in ways to best protect you through these unprecedented times.
What is SAOT Doing?
To support efforts to reduce the spread of the virus, SAOT staff office operations are being managed remotely. Staff are actively working – we’re open for business and to support you! Telephone, email and meeting capabilities have not been negatively impacted as we have capacity to work remotely in place.
D: 780-238-9111 (we will respond as soon as time permits)
Visit this page for updates and resources!
Monday Membership Meet Ups Now Scheduled!
SAOT is hosting moderated online meet-ups every Monday at 7:00 pm. This is an open forum to allow the SAOT Membership to ask questions, gather support and discuss impacts of COVID-19. Maximum of 100 participants and registration is required.
Open to Paid SAOT Members Only
Monday, April 6 @ 7:00 pm : Prioritizing OT services During Emergencies – Watch HERE
Monday, April 20 @ 7:00 pm : Scope of Practice – Watch HERE
Monday, April 27 @ 7:00 pm : Private Practice – Challenging Times – Watch HERE
Monday, May 11 @ 7:00 pm : Impacts of Provincial Budget Cuts for School Based OTs – Watch HERE
Monday, May 25 @ 7:00 pm : Covid-19: Impacts for OT Students – Watch HERE
Monday, June 1 @ 7:00 pm : Private Practice (continuation from April 27 call) – Register HERE
Monday, June 8 @ 7:00 pm : Impacts for OTs Working in Long Term Care & Other Facilities Outside AHS – Register HERE
Professional Liability Insurance – COVID-19 and Virtual Practice
With the rapidly evolving changes in relation to COVID-19 and its subsequent impacts on the workforce in Alberta, many OTs and OTAs are utilizing technology to deliver their professional services, where possible.
Your SAOT Professional Liability Insurance through HDF Insurance has no restrictions in relation to delivering professional services virtually, as long as you are working within your scope of practice and reside in Canada.
SAOT Workshops, Webinars & Events
Webinar: The Virtual Therapist – Who Me? – Held April 2, 2020
For applicable resources via email! Please email firstname.lastname@example.org
SAOT workshops have been cancelled for the next couple of months, we will continue to monitor the community health situation, and will keep you posted.
Vision Deficits – November 6 & 7, 2020
We have moved this event to the back-up dates of November 6/7, 2020 in Edmonton for this workshop. No action is required from current registrants at this time. We will keep you posted.
SOS Approach to Feeding – October 15-18, 2020
Proceeding as planned.
Additional Workshops – Fall 2020 and Winter 2021
We are planning some exciting professional development opportunities! Watch for new workshops coming your way for Fall 2020 and Winter 2021!
Reliable Sources of Information
To ensure that members are receiving consistent information, SAOT directs members to the following reliable resources of information. We urge all members to be informed, respectful and compliant of advisories and recommendations and to be in a position to inform clients of any implications for access to OT services.
- Alberta College of Occupational Therapists
- Occupational therapists are advised to review the Interim Advisory – Considerations for the delivery of occupational therapy services through electronic means, March 2020
- Alberta Health Services dedicated web page for health workers and health employers
- this site is updated regularly and provides the most current provincial guidance
- Need signage for your practice to alert patients and visitors to restrictions? Download here.
- Government of Alberta Public Facing COVID-19 Information
- Up to date resources that can support you as a citizen and be a good reference for your clients
- Your Employer/Contracting Organization
- Occupational therapists employed or contracted should consult with their employer/contractor for specific organizational policy and any directives unique to the COVID-19 pandemic.
WFOT recognizes the COVID-19 pandemic is having a profound impact on the daily lives of many people around the world. To assist occupational therapists at this unprecedented time, WFOT has developed a central registry of WFOT and local/national resource documents, strategies and guidance about occupational therapy and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Morning Star Lodge: Indigenous Community-Based Health Research Lab: COVID-19 Fact Sheet and The Protecting Our Home Fires Strategy for Indigenous Communities. Includes activities for those practicing social distancing.
Employment Related Resources
SAOT recognizes the many potential impacts that the virus, isolation/quarantine or work/school/daycare restrictions will have on members’ earning capacity. We are pleased that there are government efforts to address the personal economic impacts of this situation and urge members to review the following supports:
Provincial Government Supports
On March 17, 2020, the Alberta government announced the passing of the Employment Standards (COVID-19 Leave) Regulation, which is in force retroactively to March 5, 2020. Under this new regulation, employees will be eligible for up to 14 consecutive days of job-protected leave if they are under quarantine. The Alberta government website states that this includes where an employee is: (1) required to self-isolate; or (2) is caring for a child or dependent adult that is required to self-isolate. Employees will not be required to produce a medical note in support of their request for this leave, and they do not have to have worked for their employer for a 90 day period prior to requesting the leave (unlike the other protected leaves under the Alberta Employment Standards Code). Note that the length of the leave may increase if Alberta’s chief medical officer recommends a longer period of self-isolation.
Despite previous government announcements which suggested that this would be a paid leave, employers are not required to pay employees during this protected leave of absence. However, the employee may be eligible to receive a one-time payment of $1,146 in “emergency isolation support” if they must self-isolate and will not have another source of income while self-isolated. The Alberta government has explained that this payment is intended to bridge the gap until the recently announced federal emergency payments begin in April 2020 (details of these benefits are available here). The Alberta government is expected to provide more information shortly on how individuals can apply for this payment.
Federal Government Supports
March 25th – Canada announces Canada Emergency Response Benefit, a taxable benefit will provide $2,000/month for up to four months for workers who lose their income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and would apply to wage earners, as well as contract workers and self-employed individuals who would not otherwise be eligible for Employment Insurance (EI). The portal for applying will be available in early April.
Employment Insurance (EI) sickness benefits provide up to 15 weeks of income replacement and is available to eligible claimants who are unable to work because of illness, injury or quarantine, to allow them time to restore their health and return to work. Canadians quarantined can apply for Employment Insurance (EI) sickness benefits. For Canadians affected by Covid-19, the one-week waiting period for EI sickness benefits will be waived for new claimants who are quarantined so they can be paid for the first week of their claim.
Self-employed Canadians can access Employment Insurance (EI) special benefits by entering into an agreement, or registering, with the Canada Employment Insurance Commission. As a self-employed individual, you have to register online with the Canada Employment Insurance Commission to participate in the EI program.
Supporting our clients, friends and families through difficult times
Occupational therapists can be in a unique position to support clients who may be particularly fearful at this time, ensuring they have access to quality, scientific information, by sharing stress management strategies and by leading by example in the practice of precautions. The emerging situation may require significant limitation or disruption of services or alternatives to direct service delivery (e.g. telephone/web-based consultation) which, if necessary, should be clearly communicated to clients and all referring sources. Albertans have real need for occupational therapy so we urge you to take care of yourself and your family, engaging all precautions and safe hygiene practices. We want to keep our OT workforce and our membership healthy!
Mental health supports
AHS has boosted its service to help Albertans should they need to speak with someone about mental health concerns.
If Albertans call the Mental Health Help Line at 1-877-303-2642 or the Addiction Help Line at 1-866-332-2323 between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m., seven days a week, they will be connected directly to a dedicated team of AHS addiction and mental health staff.
This change will allow 811 operators to focus on COVID-19 calls during the day and improve wait times for others needing telephone advice. Calls placed from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. will continue to be routed through 811.
Hope for Wellness
Online mental health counselling for Indigenous People across Canada
- Mindfulness Audio Tracks and Videos
- Parenting resources
- Relationships and Coping
- Resources for Mental Health Professionals
- For Educators and School Personal
Centre for Online Mental Health Support
Online programs and mental health support for:
- Essential Workers
Online exercise programs. Down Dog is offering free programs for Healthcare workers, School Teachers and Students, and community members (Unit May 1st, July 1st, etc). More details on their website.
Mental Health Commission
Resources on managing self-care and resilience. Tip sheets for talking about CoVid19.
Mental health and psychosocial considerations during the COVID-19 outbreak
Complimentary Webinar from CTRI in April
Each month the Crisis & Trauma Resource Institute (CTRI) offers a complmentary 1 hour webinar. April’s webinar is Mental Health and Resilience During COvid-19. The CTRI offers a variety of workshops, webinars and resources.
Suggestions and Tips for social distancing, isolation and quarantine. Occupational therapists know how important engagement in meaningful occupations is to health and well-being! At times when people’s routines of daily living are disrupted as they are so significantly by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Stay in Touch!
We’re working to keep you apprised… You have our commitment to share information as we receive it and to update this webpage regularly. Now is a good time to follow SAOT’s social media platforms. Link with us and share your perspectives on our posts on Facebook.
UofA MScOT Fieldwork Update re: COVID-19 Pandemic
The UofA Department of OT respects and greatly appreciates the commitment and effort being demonstrated by individuals and agencies in order to provide healthcare and social services, including occupational therapy, during these unprecedented circumstances.
We continue to be in regular communication with the AHS and Covenant Health Student Placement Teams and other fieldwork sites/partners throughout our catchment area (AB, SK and the NWT) regarding plans for moving forward with OT fieldwork placements where/whenever possible amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
We are hoping to make use of as many summer session placement offers as possible but believe that, due to attrition based on various/many reasons, we will ultimately have only ~20-40% of the 120 offers needed for OCCTH 527 (Year 2/Level 3a).
Given this likely reality, the OT fieldwork schedule for the remainder of 2020 is anticipated be as follows:
- OCCTH 527 (recruited prior to COVID-19 and confirmed as being able to proceed) (Level 3a) mid-June to beginning of Sept using various dates
- OCCTH 527 (Level 3a) Sept 8 – Oct 23 (or alternatively Sept 14 – Oct 30)
- OCCTH 528 (Level 3b) Nov 2 – Dec 18
At this point, we anticipate needing the four-month period from mid-June to the end of October for OCCTH 527 placements.
We recognize that each site has their own realities, challenges and protocols/procedures in relation to this pandemic; therefore:
- During the first 2 weeks of May, we will be connecting with all sites/preceptors that had previously offered summer placements to discuss placement viability and the protocols necessary for students to be able to enter that site.
- Starting on May 1, we will be completing a ‘call for offers’ for placements for OCCTH 527 for early fall (placement requests in HSPnet will be labelled ‘OCCTH 527 COVID 19’) and also for OCCTH 528 for late fall.
If you have questions/concerns, or feel your practice is ready to host an OT student again, please don’t hesitate to contact one of us or contact our Clinical Education Administrator, Danielle Vallee:
The safety of therapists and students and the safety of clients served by occupational therapy in our AB, SK and NWT communities continues to be our top priority.
Thank you in advance for your continued support of our MScOT fieldwork program!
Sincerely, Cori Schmitz
Academic Coordinator of Clinical Education
Department of Occupational Therapy University of Alberta