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  • Writer's pictureLaura Humphreys

Your appointments during the COVID-19 health situation

Updated: Oct 20, 2020

Dear YCP Clients,


As the situation with COVID-19 continues to evolve we remain committed to helping you access the support you are used to receiving from us. We are doing our best to keep up to date with the information released by the government and the Department of Health and Human Services and will update this post as needed.


· You can find DHHS update here

· You can find government updates here


You can find a Self-assessment for risk of coronavirus (COVID-19) here

Dear YCP Clients,


Your appointments during the COVID-19 health situation (updated 20/10/20)

As the situation with COVID-19 evolves we are committed to helping you access the support you are used to receiving from us. We are doing our best to keep up to date with the information released by the government and the Department of Health and Human Services and will update this post as needed.


Easing of restrictions

The government have now stated that we can see some clients face-to-face for routine care, however, we are still strongly encouraged to continue telehealth whenever possible. Additionally, clinicians will need to wear a mask and eye protection/face shield and clients will need to wear a mask.


As such, we are still encouraging all clients to use telehealth at this stage.


What is Telehealth?

Telehealth is the provision of healthcare through either a secure video call or through a phone call.


We are strongly encouraging all clients to have their sessions via telehealth, unless this is not possible or suitable. There is good evidence to suggest that psychological treatment is effective via telehealth. Our initial feedback from YCP clients who have had Telehealth sessions with us, is that Telehealth works well for them once they are used to the technology. If you are worried about using Telehealth, we can send you a practice invite, so that you can practice setting up the program and feel confident before your first appointment.


Telehealth may not be suitable for you if:

  • You are experiencing suicidality

  • You are experiencing psychotic symptoms

  • You have experienced complex trauma which makes it difficult for you to feel safe in relationships

  • You are experiencing family violence

  • You do not have adequate privacy at home

  • You do not have reliable access to internet or phone

  • You have significant cognitive difficulties and don’t have someone who can start the Telehealth session for you


What we are doing to reduce the risk to you and our team:

As noted above, we are strongly encouraging all clients to have their sessions via telehealth, unless this is not possible or suitable. To help you video calls run as smoothly as possible, we have upgraded the internet network to help ensure we are able to offer good quality video calls

If you are not able to complete your sessions via Telehealth and haven’t yet spoken to your psychologist about this, please contact our admin team ASAP to see if it is possible for you to attend face-to-face sessions. Please note that each of our clinicians has their own circumstances, including different vulnerability levels for themselves and their family to COVID-19, which influence whether it is appropriate for them to see clients face-to-face at the moment. Please note that some YCP clinicians are not seeing any clients face-to-face between now and March 31st 2021.


We are committed to ensuring our team are healthy when they are at work: any staff who have signs of viral infection will be asked to stay at home. We are also committed to reducing your risk of exposure to illness while attending your appointments with us:

  • Before attending the clinic

    • All clients and team members will need to complete a screening questionnaire about COVID risk factors

    • Client will need to agree to wear a mask at all times within the clinic

    • All clients and team members will have their temperature taken on arrival in the clinic and will not be able to stay onsite if they have signs of fever

      • All hard surfaces will be disinfected at least daily

    • Surfaces in consulting rooms will be disinfected after every client

    • Surfaces at reception, including the EFTPOS terminal and iPads will be disinfected after each client

    • Surfaces in the waiting area will be disinfected after each use

      • Hand sanitiser is available in consultation rooms and the waiting room. We will ask you to use hand sanitiser on arrival in the clinic and prior to using any ‘fidgets’ in the rooms.

      • Soap is also available for you to wash your hands.

  • We have removed most books from the waiting room.

  • We have installed a ‘cough screen’ at reception and will have one available for neuropsychological assessments,


What we ask you to do to reduce our risk and the risk of our other clients:

  • It is essential you contact us to reschedule your appointment OR arrange a telehealth appointment if:

    • You are feeling unwell, have a fever, and/or have respiratory symptoms (a new cough, shortness of breath, runny nose, or sore throat).

    • If you have returned from overseas or have been in contact with someone who is suspected of having COVID-19.

  • Please don’t arrive for your appointment more than 10 minutes early. This will decrease the likelihood of people needing to sit in the waiting room together.

  • Please follow the social distancing guidelines and remain at least 1.5metres away from team members and visitors.

  • Family members and support people will not be able to wait in the waiting room. This will help us ensure minimum people are in the building at all times


What we can all do:

We all need to follow the DHHS guidelines around hygiene:

  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow.

  • Throw away used tissues immediately and clean your hands.

  • To clean hands, wash hands with soap and water for a minimum 20 seconds regularly, or use hand sanitiser.

  • Stay home if you are unwell.

  • Do not shake hands.

  • Where possible, practice “social distancing” by staying 1 to 2 meters away from others.


Cancellations and rescheduling:

Please follow our usual policy for cancellations and give at least 24 hours’ notice to cancel or reschedule your appointment. Where more than 24 hours’ notice is given there will be no cancellation fee charged. If you are unwell and cannot give 24 hours’ notice, please call us as soon as you can, as the cancellation fee may still apply. Please give us as much notice as possible, as we have clients who are likely to have an increased need for psychological support during this time. We would much prefer to give someone else the appointment rather than charge you a cancellation fee!


What if my clinician is isolated but well enough to work?

If your clinician is isolated, but well enough to conduct therapy sessions, you will be offered a telephone or video consultation.


What if I’m isolated but well enough to have my therapy session?

If you need to be in isolation you can have a telephone or video session rather than cancelling your appointment.


Can I have my neuropsychological assessment via Zoom?

At this stage we think the best option for people who need to be isolation is to reschedule their neuropsychological assessment. You will be able to complete your neuropsychological feedback session and intervention sessions via phone or video. If you do not need to isolate and think it is important to have an assessment soon, please call our practice manager, Rebecca, on 9429 0050.


How are telephone and video sessions charged?

Our session fees are based on the length of the appointment. Therefore we charge our normal fee for telephone and video sessions. In the days after your appointment, an invoice will be emailed so that it can be paid via direct deposit.

  • If you have private health insurance with extras, check with your insurer to see if you can access a rebate under these circumstances.

  • If your session is funded by NDIS your telehealth sessions can be utilised.

  • If your sessions are usually funded by TAC, Melbourne City Mission, CareinMind (Targeted Psychological Support Service and the Suicide Prevention Service), or Victims of Crime Assistance Tribal (VOCAT), you will be able to have your session via phone or video

  • If you usually claim Medicare rebates, please see below.


The new changes to Mental Health rebates during COVID-19

The government has recently announced changes to the Medicare Items for people with a Mental Health Treatment Plan (MHTP) so that you can now claim a Medicare rebate for Telehealth (phone and video) sessions. This has now been extended until 31st March 2021.


  • As of the 5th April 2020, we are able to offer Medicare rebates for telehealth sessions for all Australians with a MHTP.

  • Once we have received the payment for the session by direct deposit, we will process the rebate on your behalf if you have your bank details registered with Medicare. If you don't have your bank account registered with Medicare, we will send you a receipt to forward to Medicare.


Additional Psychology sessions through Medicare

The government have recently announced that an additional 10 sessions will be available for all Australians with a MHTP. To access those sessions, after you have used your original 10 sessions, you will need to see your GP for a re-referral for the additional 10 sessions.


Unfortunately, clients seen through Care in Mind are not eligible for an additional 10 sessions at this stage.


Please tell us if you are experiencing financial concerns and mental distress; we will always try to help.


Looking after your mental health during COVID

During the coming months it will be important for us all to look after our mental health as well as our physical health:

• Keep up activities that help regulate your emotions including exercise, a nutritious diet, connection with loved ones, regular sleep, and valued activities.

• Consider setting a limit on the amount of time spent consuming media about COVID-19.

You can further tips from the Australian Psychological Society here


Please call us on 9429 0050 if you need further information (please be aware that our admin team may well need days off in the coming weeks and this may lead to a slower than usual response to your messages).


Thank you for your ongoing support of YCP .


Laura

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