Infection Prevention & Control

Statement of Purpose

Infection prevention and control measures are fundamental to the health and safety of health care providers, clients, their families, and the broader community. This practice standard clarifies the occupational therapist’s accountability and the College’s expectations surrounding infection prevention and control practices. It is designed to assist the occupational therapist to identify and reduce the risks inherent with communicable diseases, thereby protecting clients and others from harm.

As a regulatory body, the College recognizes that it is not a subject matter expert in the science of infection prevention and control, and therefore does not determine specific best practices to be implemented by occupational therapists. The occupational therapist should refer to organizations such as the BC Centre for Disease Control and their applicable employer or health authority infection prevention and control teams for best practice policies, protocols, guidance, and recommendations. The occupational therapist is expected to always use their clinical judgement to determine how to best meet client care needs and incorporate infection prevention and control measures into their occupational therapy practice, demonstrating their commitment to client safety and acting in accordance with the profession’s standards.

Overview

Health care settings are complex environments that inherently hold risks associated with the exposure to and transmission of communicable diseases. The occupational therapist is expected to incorporate routine infection prevention and control measures into occupational therapy practice every day. In instances of extenuating circumstances (e.g., outbreaks, pandemics), additional measures are required to mitigate risks. As the College is not a subject matter expert in infection prevention and control, the BC Centre for Disease Control’s Hierarchy for Infection Prevention and Exposure Control Measures for Communicable Disease was used as the foundation in the development of this practice standard.

While large organizations such as hospitals, community service agencies, and long-term care homes may have infection control professionals leading the process for staff, the occupational therapist is still accountable for being aware of infection prevention and control best practices and resources for their practice setting. Additionally, an occupational therapist who operates a private practice or who is a sole practitioner is accountable for the development of infection prevention and control programs and policies to address the needs of their practice setting.

Every client has the right to safe, ethical, and competent occupational therapy services. To meet this commitment, the occupational therapist accepts responsibility for their practice, including assessing risks and implementing control measures for infection prevention.

Practice Standard Infection Prevention & Control

Principle Statement: The occupational therapist will ensure that infection prevention and control measures are implemented in their practice to support the health and safety of clients, health care providers, themself, and others.

Practice Expectations

The occupational therapist must do the following:

  1. Develop, maintain, and apply knowledge of best practices for infection prevention and control according to applicable provincial legislation, regulatory, public health, and workplace requirements.
  2. Communicate and document any identified risk of infection transmission to stakeholders to minimize the risk to others while respecting privacy and confidentiality.
  3. Assess and continuously monitor the degree of risk of infection transmission based on a point-of-care risk assessment process that includes the following:
    1. identifying if the hazard is present in the situation and if so, the potential for infection transmission in the practice environment;
    2. reviewing the disclosed health status of the client, occupational therapist, and others who are involved in the client’s care or who may have contact with the client in their environment (e.g., family members and caregivers);
    3. identifying the possible risks associated with the type and location of the anticipated or planned task(s) prior to each specific client interaction; and
    4. recognizing the actions required and formulating a plan to mitigate identified risks.
  1. Incorporate appropriate infection prevention and control best practices into their occupational therapy services and practice settings, including the following:
    1. public health orders/measures;
    2. environmental measures (e.g., using virtual health services, implementing cleaning protocols, and disinfecting, sterilizing, or disposing of supplies, equipment, and laundry);
    3. administrative measures (e.g., changing scheduling practices and decreasing client density in practice spaces);
    4. personal measures (e.g., practising hand hygiene and physical distancing, staying home when sick, and knowing own immunization status); and
    5. personal protective equipment (PPE; selecting and using PPE).
  1. If indicated, refer clients to other health care providers for care related to identified risk of transmission or health status associated with a communicable disease.
  2. Where the need is identified, advocate for adequate resources to support infection prevention and control best practices.
  3. Ensure applicable infection prevention and control education and supervision for support personnel who have been assigned components of occupational therapy services.
  4. Apply any workplace infection prevention and control policies and procedures provided that they are consistent with established best practices. Where policies and procedures do not exist or are insufficient, advocate for or participate in their development.
  5. Take all reasonable steps to reduce the risk of harm, and develop, communicate, and document an alternative plan of care if risks cannot be mitigated.