Title: Amended Standard Operating Practice in response to COVID-19.

Last amended 3rd January 2022. This document is subject to short-notice change to reflect latest public health advice.

Purpose: COVID-19 is an ever-evolving virus and therefore additional care must be taken to limit the risk of its transmission. Predominantly this disease is passed from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth which are produced when a person coughs, sneezes or speaks. These droplets can land on objects and surfaces around the person. People can become infected by breathing in these droplets or touching surfaces on which droplets have landed and then touching their eyes, nose or mouth.

The objective of this document is to:

  1. Outline how Sparking Speech practice will deliver speech & language therapy sessions during the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak in Ireland.
  2. Provide a plan to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 within the scope of this speech & language therapy practice.

Legal, regulatory and professional responsibilities: It must be acknowledged that the risk of transmitting Coronavirus/COVID-19 cannot be completely eliminated. The aim of this SOP is to reduce the level to the lowest practical risk by implementing preventative measures.

Pre-appointment screening: Prior to clinic appointments, the SLT will contact families to complete a household health screen. Pre-appointment screenings will be completed up to 24 hours before an appointment. If concerns regarding a household’s responses to the questions posed are identified, families will be advised to make contact with their GP and their SLT appointment will be cancelled or moved online. The SLT will always err on the side of caution and the SLT’s decision is final. The screening is designed to safeguard both families visiting the clinic and clinicians, and is not something we will compromise on; families who cannot be contacted prior to their appointment (as outlined previously) will have their appointment cancelled.

Contact Tracing: If, following a household screen or a clinic appointment, the parent, child or members of their household become unwell, the SLT must be notified as soon as possible. Similarly, if the SLT or her contacts become unwell, families will be notified, should consult their GP and will likely be advised to isolate. The SLT may be required to pass your family’s contact details to public health authorities if contact with a case of COVID-19 is confirmed/suspected.

Assessments: Assessment options include clinic and online appointments. Appointments will be booked by email or phone.  

Once an assessment has been booked by a parent, a paperwork packet including the relevant consent forms and a copy of the Covid-19 pre-screening checklist will be emailed to parents. Consent forms must be completed satisfactorily before a face-to-face session can proceed.

  1. Face-to-face clinic appointments will proceed as follows: The SLT will complete a household health screen with parents no more than 24 hours prior to a scheduled clinic assessment session. Screening questions are based on recommendations from Irish and UK Speech & Language Therapy professional bodies and the HSE. Clinic appointments will only proceed if the SLT considers it safe to do so. Families who cannot be contacted prior to their appointment (as outlined previously) will have their appointment cancelled.
  2. Parents/Guardians must satisfactorily complete a COVID-19 Consent Form prior to all clinic appointments.
  3. The clinic’s infographic document for families (shown above) succinctly explains the following:
  • The SLT will meet the family on arrival to clinic. Parents’ and children’s temperatures will be taken via a contactless thermometer and recorded. The SLT’s temperature will also be recorded daily. If the appointment is to proceed, parent & child will be escorted directly to the clinic room. Face-to-face sessions will not proceed if the temperature of the SLT, child or parent exceeds 37.5 degrees Celsius.
  • One parent ONLY will be permitted to accompany children/young people during clinic appointments.
  • As children/young people often present with poor respiratory etiquette (i.e. poor coughing, sneezing and nose blowing etiquette) a high risk of aerosol transmission presents. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) will be worn by the SLT e.g. FFP2 mask. PPE will be donned and doffed by the SLT in the order advised by the World Health Organisation. Parents should bring and wear their own masks; in the event that they do not have masks, one will be provided by the SLT and should be worn for the duration of the appointment. In the event that the SLT considers families’ own masks ill-fitting or otherwise compromised, families will be asked to exchange their masks for a mask provided by the SLT.
  • Upon entering the clinic room, parents, children and the SLT will be required to apply hand sanitiser.
  • Sessions will proceed and conclude promptly to enable ventilation of the clinic room between families.
  • Parents, children and the SLT will be required to apply hand sanitiser before leaving the clinic. Families will be escorted by the SLT out of the clinic building.
  • Parents are responsible for safely disposing of their masks after leaving the clinic; reuse is not recommended.
  • Clinic surfaces (e.g. floors, door handles, chairs, tables, card machine) will be thoroughly cleaned between families and time will exist between appointments to facilitate this. Non-essential equipment has been removed from the clinic. Clinic rooms are ventilated between appointments.
  • Toilet facilities will be available and will be cleaned between appointments if used.

Payment: Fees are payable in full on the date of assessment. We accept payment by cash, invoice or card. The practice has absorbed the cost of PPE and additional cleaning supplies; no PPE surcharge is passed on to families. Receipts will be sent to families via encrypted email.