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

Health professionals can provide health care remotely through telehealth. They can also prescribe medicines remotely and have them home delivered to patients by their pharmacist.

But health care professionals and care workers can still provide care face to face. This includes:

  • general practitioners and other specialists
  • pharmacists
  • 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:

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

Read more information for paramedics and ambulance first responders about treating COVID-19 patients.

Life-threatening situations

When providing clinical care in life-threatening situations, such as CPR, to a patient with suspected COVID-19, protect yourself by:

Staying informed

To stay up to date on COVID-19:

You can also join our WhatsApp channel or use our Coronavirus Australia app.

Australian Government WhatsApp channel for COVID-19

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.

Coronavirus Australia app

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.

Resources

Online training

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.

Register now

Publications and fact sheets

See our resources for health professionals on providing health care during COVID-19.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) resources for health professionals, including aged care providers, pathology providers and health care managers

A collection of resources for health professionals, including aged care providers, pathology providers and health care managers, about coronavirus (COVID-19).

Webinars

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:

More resources for the general public are available at our coronavirus (COVID-19) resources collection.

Last updated: 
20 November 2020

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