Helen Whait, ActivOT founder and franchisor, is an active member of the Occupational Therapy Australia Department of Veteran Affairs National Reference Group. She writes this important update for our DVA clients.
“In my role on reference group, I’ve been working hard to ensure veterans and war widows have continued access to the telehealth introduced in 2020 as a temporary Covid-19 measure.
I’m so pleased to announce that from 1st January 2022, telehealth options for the veteran community have been made a permanent addition to the OT schedule.
The reference group experienced a minor blip along the way to this decision; OTs were not able to claim for completing the forms required to access equipment and home modifications for veterans. Fighting strongly, through OTA, was successful in having this issue rectified.
OTs can also claim an OT50 for any telehealth consultation completed from 1st January 2022.
However there is still a larger issue at play. DVA will not allow OTs to provide a telehealth consult for an initial consultation.
In our current Covid world this makes no sense to me! Every 12 months or 12 sessions (whichever comes sooner) we need to get a new referral to provide services to our veterans and/or war widows.
Currently, the way things stand, OTs are required to complete a face to face consultation at the commencement of each referral. There are many scenarios where this causes unnecessary obstacles – including the very likely scenario in which an OT has seen a veteran face to face only a few weeks prior but has subsequently run out of sessions.
By insisting on a “face to face” consultation, we’re potentially placing this vulnerable client group at risk. Many veterans are elderly and many have (multiple) comorbidities. Why insist on a face to face consultation if it increases risk?
My position is that the OT who knows the veteran is best placed to make the call as to the most appropriate method of service delivery to ensure the veteran goals are met, their needs are attended to in a timely manner and the risks are managed.
What do you think? I’d love to hear from you on this issue!”
To offer your feedback on this important issue, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Edited with an update regarding initial consultations. The following message came through from Occupational Therapy Australia on 17 February, 2022:
“We are currently working with Services Australia to implement new initial consultation and aids assessment telehealth items. It is anticipated that these will be available to claim within the next two weeks. DVA asks that providers do not claim for initial consultations or aids assessments delivered by telehealth until the new items are available in the system.”