Occupational Therapy Board of Australia - August 2019
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August 2019

Issue 13

    Message from the Chair

    Welcome to our August newsletter. The Board’s revised registration standards have been approved by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Health Council and will take effect on 1 December 2019. We have published the revised registration standards so occupational therapists can familiarise themselves with their registration requirements before the revised standards take effect.

    This newsletter also features a new section related to the Australian occupational therapy competency standards (the competency standards) and how these apply in practice. This section includes two case studies to help you understand how the competency standards might apply to various roles in an occupational therapy workplace.

    Julie Brayshaw
    Chair, Occupational Therapy Board of Australia

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    Board news

    Revised registration standards published following review

    Following a scheduled review and wide-ranging consultation the Board, along with five other National Boards, has revised the registration standards for:

    • continuing professional development (CPD)
    • recency of practice (RoP), and
    • professional indemnity insurance (PII) arrangements.

    The registration standards apply to all registered occupational therapists and applicants at initial registration (except for the CPD standard, which does not apply at initial registration).

    The COAG Health Council approved the revised registration standards for CPD, ROP and PII on 30 June 2019.

    The revised standards will take effect on 1 December 2019 to align with the renewal cycle and the current registration standards will be retired from that day. At registration renewal in:

    • November 2019, occupational therapists will declare whether they met the requirements of the current registration standards, and
    • November 2020, occupational therapists will declare whether they met the requirements of the revised registration standards.

    We invite you to familiarise yourself with the revised registration standards, which are published on the Board’s website.

    Overall, the revised registration standards are clearer, continue to focus on the protection of the public, and align where possible with the requirements of other professions regulated under the National Scheme.

    Continuing professional development (CPD)

    The CPD registration standard sets out the minimum requirements for CPD. The main changes are as follows:

    • The minimum number of CPD hours has changed from 30 to 20 hours per year. These goal-directed hours should
      • seek to improve patient/client outcomes and experiences
      • draw on the best available evidence including well-established and accepted knowledge that is supported by research where possible, to inform good practice and decision-making, and 
      • build on your existing knowledge.
    • There will be a requirement of a minimum of five hours of CPD activities in interactive settings.
    • The revised standard provides clearer information on accepted CPD activities, planning and reflection processes and the occupational therapists’ CPD portfolio.

    The Board has also reviewed the Guidelines: continuing professional development that support the CPD registration standard. We will publish the revised guidelines on our website soon.

    Recency of practice (RoP)

    The RoP registration standard set outs the minimum requirements required to maintain recency of practice to ensure each occupational therapist practices safely and competently within their scope of practice. The main changes are as follows:

    • The number of minimum hours of practice has changed from six months’ equivalent full-time in the previous five years to
      • 150 hours of practice in the previous 12 months, or
      • 450 hours of practice in the previous three years, or
      • 750 hours of practice in the previous five years.
    • The revised standard introduces requirements for occupational therapists who are considering a change to their scope of practice. These requirements are to ensure that they have the necessary skills and competence and are not putting their clients at risk.
      • Before changing their scope, occupational therapists must complete any advanced training/preparation that their peers would reasonably expect, to ensure they are competent to practise in the new scope, and
      • occupational therapists considering a significant change to a different scope of practice must develop a plan for professional development to ensure their competence. They must submit this plan to the Board for consideration and approval before starting the new scope of practice.

    We are keen to ensure that these requirements protect the public but are proportionate and do not involve unnecessary burdens for occupational therapists.  

    Professional indemnity insurance (PII) arrangements

    The PII arrangements registration standard sets out the requirements for PII arrangements for occupational therapists, whether covered by themselves or a third party. The revised standard continues to ensure all aspects and all locations of their practice are covered.

    The main changes are that the revised standard:

    • provides clearer and simpler information about the requirements to be met by occupational therapists
    • gives clear information when PII is provided by a third party (such as the occupational therapist’s employer), and
    • emphasises that occupational therapists must ensure that PII arrangements have appropriate retroactive and run-off cover.

    The Board will publish additional information to support you in complying with these revised registration standards.

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    Competency standards in practice: case studies

    The Australian occupational therapy competency standards (the competency standards) have been in effect since 1 January 2019. The Board expects all occupational therapists to understand and apply the competency standards in their practice. These case studies are designed to help you understand how the competency standards might apply to various roles in an occupational therapy workplace.

    Standard 1: professionalism

    An occupational therapist practises in a culturally responsive and culturally safe manner with respect to culturally diverse client groups.

    Jane has moved into a new role as the Care Coordinator in the Emergency Department of an outer-metro hospital. Since completing the online cultural awareness training offered by her health service, she is more aware of her clients who identify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander.

    Jane recognises that the training has given her some good foundation skills and she wishes to learn more about the rich culture of her clients. She’s been confident to make some small but significant changes towards practising in a more culturally responsive and safe manner. However, she also realises that there is more to do, and Jane is now seeking further training.

    An occupational therapist maintains professional boundaries in all client and professional relationships.

    Danny is an occupational therapist who works in a group private practice. He has been working with eight-year-old Rajan and his family for two months. Rajan is Danny’s last appointment for the day, and as they are finishing up, the parents invite Danny to join the family for dinner.

    Danny recognises that it would be inappropriate for him to accept a dinner invitation from the parents of a child who is his client. He respectfully declines the invitation and explains the reasons why to the parents.

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    New collaborative partnership to improve Indigenous health outcomes and cultural responsiveness in occupational therapy

    On 28 May 2019, the Board and Indigenous Allied Health Australia (IAHA) announced a new collaborative partnership, focused on improving the quality, accessibility, cultural safety and responsiveness of occupational therapists to meet the health needs of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Peoples.

    Increasing the number of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people working as and studying to become occupational therapists is also a priority.

    The partnership formalises our existing relationship with IAHA and gives us a framework to collaborate and share experiences and resources to allow positive transformation of occupational therapy practice.

    This includes implementation of the competency standards which give guidance on the professional behaviours all occupational therapists must demonstrate to practise safely and ethically.

    The competency standards acknowledge the need for occupational therapists to enhance their cultural responsiveness and capabilities for practice with respect to Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Peoples.

    We have an opportunity and responsibility across health, education and community sectors to address the social, historical, political and cultural determinants that negatively affect the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Peoples.

    Collaborative partnership document 

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    Board’s Breakfast Forum held in July

    We invited all registered occupational therapists to attend the Board’s Breakfast Forum on 10 July 2019, as part of the Occupational Therapy Australia (OTA) 28th National Conference and Exhibition. The Chair of the Board hosted the Breakfast Forum together with members of the Occupational Therapy Council of New South Wales, and gave updates on the Board's regulatory activities.

    We thank the OTA for its efforts in organising the Breakfast Forum.

    Accreditation standards approved

    On 1 March 2019, the Board approved the revised Accreditation standards for entry-level occupational therapy education programs (December 2018) (the accreditation standards) to come into effect from 1 January 2020.

    In making the decision to retire the 2013 accreditation standards, the Board considered the Occupational Therapy Council of Australia’s (OTC) final report on its review of the proposed 2018 accreditation standards. These were developed following wide-ranging consultation on their content, as required under section 46 of the National Law.

    The revised accreditation standards are published on the Board’s website.

    We thank the OTC for all its work and efforts related to this review.

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    Latest registration statistics released

    The Board released its latest quarterly registration statistics for the period 1 April to 30 June 2019.

    There are 22,412 registered occupational therapists in Australia, of whom 20,344 (90.8%) are female and 2,068 (9.2%) are male.

    For more information, including data on registration by age group and principal place of practice, visit the Board’s Statistics page​.

    Regulation at work

    Conviction and $120,000 fine for supplying unregistered and unqualified occupational therapists and physios to Tasmanian aged care facilities

    In a landmark decision, following charges laid by AHPRA under the National Law1 a physiotherapist was convicted and fined by a Tasmanian court for holding out 11 people as registered physiotherapists or occupational therapists, when they were not, at various aged care facilities in Tasmania.

    The Board welcomed the court’s ruling as a strong deterrent. This outcome demonstrates AHPRA and the National Board’s determination to protect the community from such unlawful and deceptive behaviour.

    The case also highlights the importance of the public and employers checking the online national register of practitioners to make sure services are being provided by a registered health practitioner.

    If you have a concern about someone’s registration, please contact AHPRA on 1300 419 495.

    Read the full media release on the Board’s website.

    [1] The Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, as in force in each state and territory.

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    National Scheme news

    Fake practitioners face prison and hefty fines as new regulatory powers come into force

    Since 1 July, new regulatory powers have come into force to deal with people whose offences relate to unlawful use of protected titles such as ‘occupational therapist’, unlawful claims to registration (also known as holding out) and restricted acts.

    The penalties for anyone prosecuted by AHPRA under the National Law for these offences now include bigger fines and the prospect of prison time.

    Fake practitioners betray the trust that patients place in them and pose a significant risk to the public. The amendments mean that offenders will face the possibility of a maximum term of three years’ imprisonment per offence. They also face an increase in the maximum fines from $30,000 to $60,000 per offence for an individual and from $60,000 to $120,000 per offence for a corporate entity.

    Summary of the new laws

    • The amendments were passed in February 2019  by the Queensland Parliament under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2019 (Qld) (the Act).
    • The new offence provisions will apply in all states and territories, except Western Australia. The amendments to offence provisions do not apply to advertising offences under the National Law.
    • Under the National Law, anyone who uses any of the protected titles, such as ‘chiropractor’, ‘medical practitioner’, ‘psychologist’ and so on, must be registered with the corresponding National Board.
    • It is an offence to use one of the protected titles, and it is also an offence to knowingly or recklessly claim to be a registered practitioner when you’re not or use symbols or language that may lead a reasonable person to believe that an individual is a registered health practitioner or is qualified to practise in a health profession. These offences are known as ‘holding out’.

    For further information on the changes, please go to the AHPRA website.

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    Keep in touch with the Board

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    Page reviewed 26/11/2020