COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by the most recently discovered coronavirus. Individuals infected with the virus typically present with a fever, tiredness, and dry cough, and may also experience aches and pains, nasal congestion, a runny nose, sore throat or diarrhoea (WHO, 2020).

❕ COVID-19 Response Statement Last Updated: 11 October 2021

Information on COVID-19 in an Easy English format

Access Easy English has developed the following resources on COVID-19 for individuals with limited functional literacy, including those with hearing impairments, acquired and lifelong disabilities, english as a second language (ESL) speakers and the elderly. The information is presented using everyday words, simple sentences, helpful images and filtered to contain the key messages that need to be accessed and understood.

Our COVID-19 Safety Plan

Click on the link below to access our COVID-19 Safety Plan registered with NSW Health. This document should be read in conjunction with our comprehensive and regularly updated COVID-19 Response Statement below.

View our COVID-19 Safety Plan

Information on COVID-19 for People with Aphasia

Tactus Therapy has made available some really helpful information and resources for individuals living with aphasia. Check out the links below:

Information on COVID-19 in Key Word Sign

Key Word Sign Australia has made available key word sign posters for individuals interacting with and/or providing services to persons who use key word sign. Check out the links below:

What is Hills District Speech Therapy’s response to COVID-19?

Dear Clients,

Thank you for your ongoing support over the last few months during this challenging time. With the current easing of restrictions, our focus and priority remains the health and wellbeing of our clients, their families, our team, and the wider community, all whilst providing outstanding speech pathology services.

As we have recently reached 70% double vaccinations in NSW, we can now provide you with our roadmap for services until the end of 2021. We will continue to alert our clients in the clinic and across our social media platforms, and also mark all new information and revisions as NEW or UPDATED.

HDST continues to be informed by the Australian Government COVID-19 guidelines , and has implemented safeguards that meet and exceed these official guidelines  to minimise the potential impact.

Our clinic continues to provide speech pathology and occupational therapy services via face-to-face and telehealth. For the remainder of the year however, our preferred method of service is telehealth.

This is in line with current information, recommendations and encouragement from Speech Pathology Australia and the Federal Health Minister.

We continue to ask that our clients, their caregivers and our staff strictly follow our current guidelines and procedures:

COVID-19 Risk Matrix

This risk matrix was developed using the NSW Health Infection Prevention and Control Response and Escalation Framework. The information below is used by our team, and provided to our clients and their families to guide decisions around managing risks associated with COVID-19 in a range of care settings. Across all settings and with all clients, standard precautions have been put in place to ensure the safety and wellbeing our our clients, their families and our staff. These include, however are not limited to, regular sanitising of common surfaces, frequent hand washing, and staff staying at home when they are unwell. As of the 24th of June 2021, the level of risk and necessary precautions were updated to a MODERATE risk level. Despite the easing restrictions, we will continue to provide services in response to a moderate risk level to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our clients, their families, and our staff. ,

UPDATED: COVID-19 Vaccination & Vaccination Status

COVID-19 vaccination is one factor among a range of practical COVID-19 control measures currently available to help mitigate the risk of exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace.  Here at HDST we strongly support the COVID-19 vaccination rollout. Every team member at HDST providing face to face services is fully vaccinated. Along with all the other control measures utilised at HDST to ensure the safety of our team and clients, COVID-19 vaccine forms a large part of our defence in keeping our team and clients safe.

We will not be requesting vaccination certification in 2021 from clients and their caregivers. We understand that there may still be some clients who have only recently become eligible and  all our under 12 clients are ineligible for vaccination. Hence again why we are preferring telehealth for all possible clients.

Mask Wearing & Social distancing

  • Our clinicians and support staff will continue to. wear face masks until the end of the year and will request that our carers and any clients over the age of 12 continue to wear masks in our clinic. This also applies to any offsite locations we visit.
  • Furthermore, NSW government stipulates that face coverings are not mandatory where  ‘clear enunciation or visibility of your mouth is essential’
  • Staff and clients are NOT required to wear masks during therapy sessions.
  • Where physical distancing is difficult to maintain, the clinician may wear a mask or request that you do.
  • We will keep a distance of 1.5 metres. Where this is not possible, clinicians will wear a hospital grade mask. 
  • We also request that parents attending sessions with their child wear a masks (which we can provide) if you are unable to maintain a distance of 1.5 metres with your clinician OR if you request. Nevertheless, we appreciate mask wearing for those accompanying their child or a dependent to speech therapy.
  • Please enter via the closest door to your clinic room (side 303 or 302).
  • The waiting room chairs will be reduced to encourage social distancing (1.5 metres). We highly recommend, where possible, that you do not use the waiting room, but instead wait outside of the clinic or in your car until your session commences or your child’s session ends. Clinicians will do their utmost to ensure that sessions are running on time.
  • We are currently only able to accommodate 3 people per room per session (clinician and client + carer). If other family members are required to come to sessions, please wait with them outside.
  • For clients who are not able to come into the clinic for their session we encourage you to speak to your therapist about accessing our services via telehealth. This also means that we have much less foot traffic in our clinic.

QR Code Check In

  • Clients and their parents/caregivers are required check in to our clinic using the QR code located on the outside of door 302 (entry to reception).

Check in requirements at HDST

  • When clients and/or the caregivers check in at reception, we expect that you are confirming with us that:
    • You do not present with any COVID like symptoms
    • You have not visited any COVID hot spots
    • You are not awaiting a COVID test result
    • You have not been in contact with any COVID positive people in the last 14 days

Hygiene measures

  • Hand sanitisers – We encourage you to use these and also adhere to normal hand washing and hygiene practices. These practices are illustrated in the bathrooms located on all levels of the building. Clients and clinicians will sanitise their hands on entry to their session and when leaving their session.
  • Illness – HDST uses the Traffic Light System to manage illness and making decisions regarding clients and team members coming into the clinic. This is in addition to COVID government requirements. If you have any COVID like symptoms, you must get tested and await a negative result before returning to our clinic for face to face services. In the meantime, please continue to observe and use our traffic light system (on our website and clinic front desk). Please adhere to this advise for all family members and support workers entering the clinic.
  • Our team members follow our Safe Environment Policy, which ensures that high levels of personal hygiene are maintained. This policy can be viewed on our website: https://hdspeechtherapy.com.au/clinic-safe-environment-policy/

Further measures to  minimise the potential impact at HDST include:

  • Disinfecting and wiping down of common surfaces and resources between client interactions
  • Daily disinfecting of common clinic surfaces including light switches and door handles
  • Professional cleaning of the clinic completed twice a week

Prior Travel

Anyone who has travelled overseas, to any identified COVID hotspots, or has come into direct contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the previous 7 days must isolate themselves.  Clients must follow this advice, and any directives from NSW Health to ensure their own and others’ safety. Please call us on 9054 1996 if you are in this position so that we can organise tele health sessions for you.

Our clinicians continue to provide external/ home visits and sessions.

For this to occur we ask that you strictly follow our current guidelines and procedures:

  • Please call the office and let your clinician know if you or anyone in your family has been unwell prior to the session or been in contact with a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19.
  • Our clinicians will never enter your home or offsite location if they have been unwell or been in contact with a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19.
  • Our clinicians will sanitise their hands before and after the session and will request that their client does also.
  • HDST requests our offsite locations take their own responsible measures to respond to COVID-19, in accordance with official Australian Government COVID-19 guidelines.
  • If HDST staff at off-site locations are concerned these locations are not taking reasonably  steps to proactively prevent the spread of COVID-19 so far as it is able, HDST has directed our staff to speak with their Team Leader immediately.
  • Our clinicians also reserve the right to request that they don’t see a client at offsite locations if they feel they are presenting as unwell based on our traffic light system. We may also cease the provision of offsite services in areas that are identified as ‘COVID hotspots’ as per our escalation risk assessment framework. In such cases the clinician may offer sessions via telehealth, otherwise the time will be utilised for indirect services including  further resource development for the client’s ongoing sessions.
  • If you are an organisation with a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 and HDST staff attend your site and may be affected, we ask that you immediately contact your HDST contact to alert us to the situation.
  • We are also minimising entry to aged care facilities at this time. Please contact us if a session is urgently required, in which our clinicians will wear masks at all times (see our risk matrix above for more information).
  • To minimise risk of exposure to and or transmission of COVID-19, clinicians will travel to and from offsite locations in their own vehicles. Clinicians will be required to travel separately.
  • We have a copy of our COVID safe plan available at the top of this page. Offsite locations can request a copy at any time. 
  • We will not be providing face to face services in school environments for the remainder of the year. We are hopeful in 2022 that we can resume our face to face services within our schools.

Our clinicians continue to offer telehealth sessions

This is a successful and evidence based approach to therapy and means you can stay in the comfort and safety of your own home.  Your clinician will discuss this with you and help set you up, if they haven’t already done so.

Our clinicians are well trained in this area of service delivery and training modules have been created and utilised by our team. As always, our focus is bringing you outstanding quality and service in whatever we do!

If you would like more information on this mode of service delivery visit our Online Therapy Services page on our website.

Our clinicians provide non face-to-face services

When required, your clinician will spend the time they usually would in face to face sessions, working on developing resources, reviewing goals, researching  or even providing advice to you via the phone.

Your clinician will provide you with a detailed outline of what areas they will be working on during their non face-to-face service time for you.

Returning to face-to-face sessions

In the interest of everyone’s health and safety we will be requesting that those returning to face to face sessions sign a document detailing that they are well and have not been in contact with any known or suspected cases of COVID. Clients will also commit to keeping us updated if their health changes or if they are potentially exposed to the virus. Please contact your therapist directly or call 9054 1996 if you wish to return to face-to-face sessions.

Group Therapy Sessions

We will not be providing face-t0-face group therapy sessions until at least the 1st of December 2021. We will be re-evaluating risks and guidelines after this time.

HDST continues to offer online group therapy sessions for selected client groups. Please contact us on 9054 1996 if you would like more information on our online group therapy services.

The COVID-19 is an evolving situation. If you have specific questions please discuss with management.  We will also alert you if any changes occur to our response.

Thank you,
Hills District Speech Therapy Management Team

HDST Traffic Light System

Our Clinic Safe Environment Policy

NSW Health COVID-19 Health Alert Updates

World Health Organisation COVID-19 Information