Providing health care face to face during COVID-19
When providing health care face to face during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, health care workers should take steps to keep themselves and their patients safe. Read about when to provide care face to face and how to protect yourself and your patients.
When to provide care face to face
But health care professionals and care workers can still provide care face to face. This includes:
- general practitioners and other specialists
- other primary care and allied health practitioners
- clinicians and health care professionals working in acute, secondary and tertiary care
- nurses and midwives
- aged care workers and disability support workers
- providers of mental health services, including psychologists, counsellors, mental health workers
- paramedics and ambulance first responders
- community outreach workers, including in homeless shelters and services
Where a patient or client receives care depends on their circumstances. In some cases, providing care face to face is the only option.
- Some people need to receive care in their own home — such as under the Commonwealth Home Support Programme or Home Care Packages Program.
- People living in a residential aged care facility or disability service still need day-to-day care and regular access to health professionals.
- Some health conditions require a physical examination.
- Some people can’t or don’t want to use phone or video services.
- Some services can only be delivered face to face.
When delivering care face to face, health professionals and care workers must take steps to protect themselves and their patients from COVID-19. This includes good hygiene practices and the use of personal protective equipment (PPE).
How to protect yourself and your patients
Health care workers and carers should take infection prevention and control precautions when caring for patients face to face.
If you are a health care worker or aged care worker, you should complete a 30-minute online training module. This will help you understand the signs and symptoms of COVID-19, and how to keep everyone safe.
To protect yourself and those in your care, especially those at risk of severe disease:
- practise and encourage good hand hygiene — wash hands before and after putting on PPE or contact with the patient
- assess the patient’s risk of COVID-19 before face-to-face contact occurs, and then use PPE as appropriate for the risk and setting
- provide your patient with a surgical mask to wear if he or she is in quarantine from being exposed to COVID-19, or has respiratory symptoms
- follow physical distancing guidance, maintaining a distance of 1.5 metres from the patient where possible
- regularly clean the environment and equipment
Immediately let your employer know if you:
- think you came into contact with someone who has COVID-19 without using appropriate PPE
- have symptoms of a respiratory illness, even if they are mild
In these circumstances, seek medical assessment and advice about COVID-19 testing. Stop providing care face to face until you have been cleared to return to work. Read about when you can and can’t work.
Paramedics and ambulance first responders
Paramedics and ambulance first responders who are assessing and treating patients in isolation or quarantine should:
- take contact and droplet precautions for routine care of patients
- take contact and airborne precautions when performing aerosol generating procedures, including intubation and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
- notify the receiving hospital
- put vehicle ventilation in both compartments on non-recirculated mode during transport
- use rear exhaust fan, if there is one, to draw air away from the cab, toward the back end of the vehicle
- be aware of specific guidelines relating to your jurisdiction
When providing clinical care in life-threatening situations, such as CPR, to a patient with suspected COVID-19, protect yourself by:
- using appropriate PPE for the procedures, ensuring careful donning and doffing
- performing good hand hygiene
- immediately notifying your employer if you didn’t use appropriate PPE or you think a breach in PPE has occurred
To stay up to date on COVID-19:
You can also join our WhatsApp channel or use our Coronavirus Australia app.
Join our COVID-19 WhatsApp channel to learn the latest on Australia's response to coronavirus (COVID-19). If you're already a WhatsApp user you can send a message to the channel to connect. If you don't have WhatsApp, download the app to join the channel.
Stay up to date with official information and advice about the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation. You can check your symptoms and get notified when urgent information and updates are published.
A 30-minute online module — COVID-19 infection control training — is available for care workers across all health care settings.
This training is hosted on an external site, provided by our COVID-19 training partner Aspen Medical.
Publications and fact sheets
A collection of resources for health professionals, including aged care providers, pathology providers and health care managers, about coronavirus (COVID-19).
Stay up to date with our webinars on the coronavirus (COVID-19) response for the health and aged care sector.
Information for patients
For more information for patients on accessing health care and medicines, see:
- getting medicines
- accessing health services
- electronic prescribing
- consumer fact sheet on telehealth services at MBS Online
- Home Medicines Service – information for consumers (for vulnerable people)
More resources for the general public are available at our coronavirus (COVID-19) resources collection.