Occupational Therapy Board of Australia - December 2019
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December 2019

Issue 14

    Chair's message

    Welcome to our final newsletter for 2019. We’ll be keeping you up to date with changes to standards and guidelines, public consultations, regulation and registration matters, Board projects and events. As always, we welcome your feedback.

    We are in the final stages of publishing resources to support the implementation of revised registration standards: continuing professional development, recency of practice and professional indemnity insurance. These standards came into effect on 1 December 2019.

    The Board is also working with several other National Boards to review the Code of conduct for occupational therapists. Be sure to check the Board’s website, communiqués and future newsletters for an update on this review process.

    Julie Brayshaw
    Chair, Occupational Therapy Board of Australia

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    Board news

    Revised registration standards are now in effect

    Following approval by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Health Council earlier this year the revised registration standards for continuing professional development (CPD), recency of practice (ROP) and professional indemnity insurance arrangements (PII) took effect on 1 December 2019.

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

    Continuing professional development (CPD)

    The Registration standard: Continuing professional development (the CPD standard) sets the minimum requirements for CPD.

    The CPD standard requires you to do 20 hours of CPD each year, with five of those being interactive activities that involve other practitioners. The standard specifies the requirements for reflection and how you should select CPD activities that contribute directly to maintaining or improving your competencies and keeping them up to date in your scope of practice. The standard also specifies that exemptions will be granted in exceptional circumstances.

    We will publish a range of resources on the Board’s website over the coming months to help you understand how you can meet the requirements of the revised CPD standard. These include:

    • Guidelines: Continuing professional development
    • Factsheet: How to identify your CPD learning goals
    • Factsheet: CPD exemption
    • Example: CPD reflection
    • Template: CPD portfolio.

    Recency of practice (ROP)

    The Registration standard: Recency of practice (the ROP standard) sets the minimum requirements for ROP: you must have practised for a minimum of 750 hours over the last five years, 450 hours over the last three years or 150 hours over the last year.

    The ROP standard also introduces requirements if you are planning to change your scope of practice:

    • If you are extending your scope of practice you must complete any advanced training/preparation that your peers would reasonably expect to ensure that you are competent in your new scope of practice.
    • If you are planning to make a substantial change to a different scope of practice (for example from an administrative role to a clinical role) you need to submit a plan for professional development to the Board for approval before changing your scope of practice.

    These new requirements aim to ensure that practitioners have the necessary skills and competency in their new scope of practice and are not putting their clients at risk.

    The Board has published two supporting documents on its website: FAQ: Recency of practice and a Template plan: Substantial change in scope of practice.

    Professional indemnity insurance arrangements (PII)

    The Registration standard: Professional indemnity insurance arrangements (the PII standard) sets out the requirements for PII 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 PII standard has been made easier to read and understand. To meet the standard, you need to have appropriate insurance and ensure that your PII includes appropriate retroactive and run-off cover. It’s likely your employer has PII cover for you, but you should still check. If you work for yourself make sure you have the correct insurance in place.

    The Board has published two supporting documents on its website: FAQ: Professional indemnity insurance arrangements and Factsheet: PII arrangements – what do they mean for me.

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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. The Board has developed some case studies to help you understand how the competency standards might apply to various occupational therapy roles.

    Standard 2: Knowledge and learning

    An occupational therapist’s knowledge, skills and behaviours in practice are informed by relevant and contemporary theory, practice knowledge and evidence, and are maintained and developed by ongoing professional development and learning.

    Identifies and applies best available evidence in professional practice and decision-making 

    Alex has been providing generic manual-handling training to a range of organisations as the sole control to mitigate musculoskeletal risk to workers. Given the generic nature of the training it does not account for:

    • the risks affecting the specific organisation in which the training has been given, and
    • the measures the specific organisation can put in place to mitigate musculoskeletal injuries.

    The training given by Alex contradicts well-founded and long-standing evidence that generic manual-handling training has little effect in changing worker behaviour, controlling risk or enhancing worker injury outcomes. Alex should be providing training that is specific to the working practices and environment.

    Understands and responds to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health philosophies, leadership, research and practice

    Lara is a recent graduate who has started work as an occupational therapist with a large disability services provider. As part of her induction program, she participated in a cultural awareness workshop offered by her health service. The workshop gave Lara an understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health philosophies, research and practice.

    Lara seeks to use this knowledge in her ongoing professional development and care of clients who identify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander. Lara recognises that the workshop is just one step in better understanding how she can work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and she is continually identifying ways in which pertinent information can be shared and incorporated into her practice.

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    Get to know your colleagues – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners

    Members of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practice Board (ATSIHPBA) recently gave a update to the Board about their Board, the profession and its practitioners.

    The ATSIHPBA wants to help the occupational therapy profession understand the value that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners can bring to Australian healthcare to make it culturally safe and help close the gap. Below are some facts about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners and their profession to help occupational therapists know more.

    Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners: fast facts

    • Programs of study that lead to registration as an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioner are the only ethnically based health training programs of this type in the world and have been recognised as such by the United Nations
    • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners work across organisations in many roles and act as cultural brokers and make healthcare settings, including hospitals, more culturally safe.
    • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners are one profession under the same roof as many other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health professionals and account for a small number of the Indigenous health workforce (e.g. Aboriginal Health Workers, Liaison Officers and so on).
    • Tasks Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners are qualified to perform include immunisations, screening of physical, social and emotional wellbeing, administering and supplying medications, advocating for clients, health promotion, and providing advice, support and training on culturally safe health services.
    • They complement the roles of other health practitioners, including physiotherapists. The cultural liaison and expertise they provide is invaluable. Their patient rapport and insight into culturally safe and responsive approaches to care helps non-Indigenous clinicians to achieve the best health outcomes for the patient.
    • New accreditation standards starting next year will enable programs offering qualifications higher than the current Certificate IV level to apply for accreditation.
    • Challenges to the profession include retention, lack of career mapping, employers not harnessing their full scope of practice, and completing their study in the time allowed (for cultural reasons and because of travelling distance). However, registrant numbers are steadily rising.

    The ATSIHPBA would like to continue to work with Ahpra and the occupational therapy profession to help spread the word about the culturally safe workforce which is qualified, competent, registered and ready to go to work in both clinical and non-clinical roles.

    What you can do to help and spread the word

    Here are some things that you, as an occupational therapist, can do to help:

    • Ask a question: ask your health service, employer or other team members, ‘How many Aboriginal Health Practitioners do we employ?’ or ‘Did you know we could make our practice more culturally safe by employing an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioner, and do our bit towards closing the gap?’
    • Make them a priority: Prioritise the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workforce agenda.
    • Share the message: Distribute the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practice profession brochures explaining their role to employers.

    Engaging the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workforce to work in partnership with occupational therapists is a key opportunity to improve health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

    If you would like to find out more about the profession, please contact Executive Officer Jill Humphreys at [email protected]

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    CLEAR Annual Education Conference: Board presentation

    Members of the Board were pleased to co-present at the Council on Licensure, Enforcement and Regulation (CLEAR) Annual Conference on 20 September 2019 with representatives from the Occupational Therapy Board of New Zealand. The presentation focused on the development of professional competencies within the regulatory context and included a discussion about the development and implementation of cultural competencies specific to Australian and New Zealand contexts.

    This was a valuable opportunity to speak with international colleagues on the importance of professional competencies, cultural responsiveness and engagement with stakeholders through the development and implementation of the competencies.

    Occupational therapy stakeholders: roles and responsibilities

    The Board recently published two documents outlining the role and responsibilities of occupational therapy stakeholders. These documents are available on the Board’s website at the Occupational therapy stakeholders page and on the Accreditation pageThey aim to provide guidance on the functions and responsibilities of each of the organisations involved in the regulation of occupational therapists and the accreditation of occupational therapy programs of study.

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    Have you renewed your registration? The late period for renewal ends soon

    We are now in the late period for registration renewal (1 to 31 December). Make sure you renew before the end of December or your registration will lapse in accordance with the National Law and your name will be removed from the online national register of practitioners.

    To renew your registration, go to the Ahpra login page.

    See fees for the cost of annual renewal, including the late payment fee for renewal applications received during December.

    If you wish to keep practising and do not renew your registration by 31 December, you must submit a fast track application for registration. Fast track application forms are available on the Board website or by phoning Ahpra’s Customer Service team on 1300 419 495 during January.

    If submitting a fast track application, you cannot practise until your application is processed and your registration details are updated on the national register.

    More information

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    Latest registration statistics released

    The Board released its latest quarterly registration statistics in September, for the period 1 July 2019 to 30 September 2019. There are 22,603 registered occupational therapists, including 21,878 with general registration, 87 with limited registration and 638 with non-practising registration.

    The percentage of registrants by gender is 90.7 per cent female (20,510) and 9.3 per cent male (2,093).

    For more information, including registration by principal place of practice, visit the Board’s Statistics page.

    'Graduating soon’ webinar recording now available

    The Occupational Therapy Board of Australia's recent webinar for graduates is now live! You can listen to a recording of the webinar.

    The webinar was hosted by Board Chair Ms Julie Brayshaw, who presented information about:

    • the role of the Board and the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra)
    • the registration process, including:
      • when and how to apply registration costs 
      • how to contact Ahpra
      • the obligations of registered occupational therapists.

    You can also read a transcript of the webinar recording, view the presentation slides and read an FAQ from questions raised by webinar participants: see the New graduates page of our website.

    More information about registration and practitioner responsibilities is available:

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    National Scheme news

    Social media guide for health practitioners

    Ahpra and National Boards have published new guide to help registered health practitioners understand and meet their obligations when using social media.

    The guide reminds practitioners that when interacting online, they should maintain professional standards and be aware of the implications of their actions, just as when they interact in person.

    The guide does not stop practitioners from engaging online or via social media; instead, it encourages practitioners to act ethically and professionally in any setting.

    To help practitioners meet their obligations, the guide also outlines some common pitfalls practitioners may encounter when using social media.

    Community trust in registered health practitioners is essential. Whether an online activity can be viewed by the public or is limited to a specific group of people, health practitioners have a responsibility to behave ethically and to maintain professional standards, as in all professional circumstances.

    In using social media, health practitioners should be aware of their obligations under the National Law1, their Board’s Code of conduct, the Advertising guidelines and other relevant legislation, such as privacy legislation.

    This guide replaces the Social media policy on Boards’ codes, guidelines and policies pages and is available in the Advertising resources section of Ahpra’s website. The guide will be updated as needed.

    1 The Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, as in force in each state and territory (the National Law).

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    Health practitioners encouraged to seek advice about their own health

    An important part of being a health professional is getting the healthcare you need, without fearing a mandatory notification.

    Mandatory notifications are a part of the National Law and set out obligations for registered health practitioners, employers and education providers. These obligations aim to protect the public by ensuring that Ahpra and the National Boards are made aware of practitioners who may be placing the public at serious risk of harm.

    Currently, registered health practitioners, including treating practitioners, and employers need to notify Ahpra if they reasonably believe another registered health practitioner has behaved in a way that constitutes ‘notifiable conduct’. Notifiable concerns have a specific meaning under the National Law.

    There are four concerns that may trigger a mandatory notification, depending on the risk of harm to the public:

    • impairment
    • intoxication while practising
    • significant departure from accepted professional standards, and
    • sexual misconduct.

    A health practitioner’s physical or mental health issue rarely needs a mandatory notification.

    Having a health issue is not in itself a reason to make a mandatory notification. If a practitioner has taken steps to deal with it, such as taking time away from work, or is engaged in an effective treatment plan, we don’t need to know about it. Ahpra and National Boards recognise that there may be times when health practitioners need professional advice about their own health, and we encourage them to get that support. Practitioners should seek advice without worrying about a mandatory notification being made about them.

    Changes to mandatory notifications

    Early this year, Health Ministers agreed to make changes to mandatory notifications requirements in the National Law and the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2018 (Qld) (the Bill) was passed by the Queensland Parliament in February 2019.

    The changes only apply to treating practitioners and intend to support practitioners to seek advice for a health issue (including mental health issues), while continuing to protect the public. This is because the circumstances for treating practitioners to make mandatory notifications are more limited than they are for other groups.

    Under these National Law amendments, three of the four types of conduct (impairment, intoxication and practice outside of professional standards), which may lead to a mandatory notification, will have the same threshold for mandatory notifications by treating practitioners. It is: substantial risk of harm. A substantial risk of harm is a very high threshold for reporting risk of harm to the public.

    When the amendments take effect in early 2020, they will apply in all states and territories except Western Australia, where mandatory notification requirements will not change.

    Find out more, download resources and access the current guidelines for mandatory notifications by going to www.ahpra.gov.au/mandatorynotifications.

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    Keeping things in perspective: new videos show practitioners’ experiences of the notification process

    Earlier this year, Ahpra launched a series of videos to support members of the public and registered health practitioners who are going through the notification process.

    The video series, called ‘Let’s talk about it’, explains what happens when concerns are raised with the regulator, gives easy-to-follow information about the notifications process and addresses common questions, so consumers and health practitioners know what to expect when they interact with Ahpra and National Boards.

    The series is part of work to minimise the adverse impact of the notifications process on practitioners and notifiers. Over the last few months two new videos were added. These provide a first-hand account of the notification process from a practitioner’s perspective:

    The videos sit alongside other written resources available on the website, including information about understanding the notifications experience. See: www.ahpra.gov.au/Notifications.

    You can view the videos on the Ahpra and National Board websites or on our YouTube and Vimeo channel, and join the conversation by following Ahpra on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, use the hashtag #letstalkaboutit and tag @AHPRA.

    My expereince: receiving a notification

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    Keep in touch with the Board

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    Page reviewed 26/11/2020