A Message from the Deputy Registrar
Protecting the Public and Regulated Members During the COVID-19 Pandemic May 8, 2020
May 4-10, 2020 was deemed “Mental Health Week” (see https://mentalhealthweek.ca/). This is quite appropriate as we now approach the eight-week mark since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization and since the first cases were announced in Alberta (March 5, 2020). Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health (CMOH), Dr. Deena Hinshaw, in her most recent public statements this week highlighted that it was Mental Health Week and commented that, As a result of this pandemic, all Albertans may be feeling increased fear, anxiety or sadness. Many Albertans, particularly those who experience illness, grief and loss, or financial hardships may require additional mental health support.” (May 5, 2020) CAP recognizes that psychologists will play a key role in providing this needed mental health support to Albertans both now and in the long term.
As noted last week, the Honourable Premier of the Province and Dr. Hinshaw announced the Alberta plans to relaunch the economy. Some of you have been making inquiries when CAP will provide guidance on increasing direct or face-to-face services. See below for an update on the relaunch announcement and what it means for psychologists.
Please click here for up-to-date Alberta Health information.
COVID-19 RECENT DEVELOPMENTS
Return to Work Guidance and Professional Liability Insurance Considerations
The Alberta Government recently released their return to work and plan to relaunch the economy. Please click here to read this information.
In the April 30, 2020 announcement, officials made it clear that while they are hopeful to begin the process of reopening the economy and relaxing certain restrictions, that they will do so in a gradual and staged manner. It was emphasized that the COVID-19 situation remains fluid and public health restrictions can change. Psychologists should thus monitor and stay aware of all provincial and federal Public Health Orders, restrictions, and recommendations, which can change on a daily basis.
In terms of what this means for psychologists, CAP is currently working on developing guidelines for our members as they consider transitioning their practices to increasingly face-to-face services in concert with the staged relaunch plan. We hope to have a CAP guideline to members very soon. We can not give definitive timeline for release of our guideline. Our guideline will be required to be submitted to the CMOH who will review and can offer amendments to our guidelines. I can tell you that draft guidelines are nearing completion already.
As psychologists consider increasing the number of clients they see directly, they will be asked to follow many of the same precautions as are already available from Alberta Health and the Chief Medical Officer (See more guidance about the relaunch strategy here). CAP will be providing more specific guidance for public communication, pre-screening and prioritization, hygiene and sanitization, physical distancing in office, and office environmental considerations. Please the following amended public health order for further details by clicking here.
At the present time, CAP continues to urge our members to practice physical distancing and to use their judgement for which clients they provide services to via distance technology. Psychologists should practice all recommended public health measures in any face-to-face service delivery. Members are recommended to check with their individual liability insurers regarding what their plans cover for provision of telehealth services to ensure they have adequate or desired coverage.
In a recent communication from the Canadian Psychological Association to its’ members regarding BMS liability coverage they state, With some members shifting to deliver professional services via telepsychology, we would also like to confirm that the CPA/CPAP PLI policy will cover you for services delivered virtually. As with the coverage generally, you must be acting within your scope of practice and licenced jurisdiction(s). If you are delivering your services via telepsychology, however, BMS recommends that you purchase additional cyber security and privacy liability coverage so that you have adequate coverage for the kinds of exposures specific to a virtual practice.
Please click here to read information from BMS regarding professional liability insurance regarding returning to practice.
Other resources for members that may help as they consider a gradual return to increasing face-to-face services can be found in terms of the following documents:
Communication with Regulators
CAP continues to communicate with psychology regulators and other regulated health professions across Alberta and North America. This is to ensure we are accessing the most up-to-date information and communicating real time information to our members.
CAP’s COVID-19 Webpage
CAP’s COVID-19 webpage is operational. This is accessible by clicking here. Please note that a “frequently asked questions” (FAQ) bulletin has been added to the webpage. This is in addition to all previous COVID-19 messages to the membership.
The CAP Monitor Self-Care Issue 61
Our next issue of The CAP Monitor is now being released. This issue is timely as self-care among psychologists is more important that ever during such times of crisis. Psychologists, as professional caregivers, face many stressors and they can be at risk for burn-out or other effects of caring for others mental health needs. This Monitor will provide many useful ideas for members to think about and plan for their self-care.
Please click the blue button below to access Issue 61 of The CAP Monitor.
CAP and PAA
Save the Date: May 14, 2020
Another CAP-PAA Town Hall Meeting is scheduled for May 14, 2020 from 3:00 – 4:00 p.m. This Town Hall Meeting will focus on issues of Returning to Face-to-Face Practice, Telepsychology, and Advocacy. The presenters will be Dr. Judi Malone, R. Psych. (CEO of PAA), and Dr. Richard Spelliscy, R. Psych. (CAP Registrar and CEO), and will be moderated by Dr. Troy Janzen, R. Psych. (CAP Deputy Registrar and Complaints Director).
You do not need to RSVP to this event as this is an open invitation to all regulated members of CAP. To join in on the presentation, please click on the following link: https://youtu.be/Mbe2KXI_c0w for the above-noted date and time. The presentation will be recorded and available on the CAP website shortly after the live event.
We ask that please submit your questions in advance by replying to this email. Please submit your questions no later than 4:00 p.m. on Friday, May 8, 2020. We will then categorize the questions and try to answer as many as possible within the one-hour time frame. If time permits, additional questions will be taken via the YouTube chat function. In order to use this chat function, you must sign into YouTube.
April 16, 2020 Town Hall Meeting
CAP, along with PAA held a province wide COVID-19 Town Hall Meeting on April 16, 2020. A number of questions from members were addressed. A recording of this event may be found by clicking here. To date there have been over 1,400 views.
April 28, 2020 Town Hall Meeting
CAP, along with the PAA also held a Town Hall Meeting with Alberta psychologists from the Lloydminster area on Tuesday April 28, 2020. This was to discuss particular issues that are unique to Lloydminster. Lloydminster is a City sharing its’ border between Alberta and Saskatchewan and has a unique legislative arrangement with the two provinces. In the case of Public Health, it is our understanding that the Saskatchewan Public Health Act applies within the city of Lloydminster. Thus, psychologists in that City should take direction for public safety from Saskatchewan Public Health Authorities. In general, psychologists in Alberta are reminded that while we are essential service providers, that we must follow public safety orders and that we are recommended to continue to offer services through distance technology when possible and that we follow all public safety recommendations in any decision to provide direct face-to-face services to clients.
CAP's COVID-19 Survey
An environmental scan survey regarding psychologist’s response in light of COVID-19 was distributed by CAP on April 17, 2020. We thank those who have participated and are pleased to report that we had responses from over 380 psychologists. This represents nearly 10% of our overall membership and also is the single highest participation rate for a CAP survey. While we will report greater details of the survey results in the near future, early highlights of results are as follows:
- The survey appears to be roughly representative of overall membership with 62.9% in private practice setting, 26.3% in a public setting, 7.1% in a not-for-profit setting and the remaining reporting some other setting.
- A majority of psychologists (89.2%) agreed or strongly agreed that their practice was disrupted due to COVID-19. The largest impact being that of reduced access to clients followed by a reduction in financial resources.
- A majority (54.2%) of psychologists were successful in transitioning between 90-100% of their clients to a digital/virtual platform. A very small percentage of psychologists reported that they did not transition any clients to a digital/virtual platform.
- Nature of client population and nature of practice were the top two ranked factors that impacted psychologist’s ability to transition clients to a digital/virtual platform.
- There was significant variability in terms of what percentage of clients were either unable or unwilling to make the transition to digital/virtual platforms. However, the results suggest that most psychologists did have at a proportion of clients with this issue.
- A majority of psychologists believe that demand for psychological services will increase post-pandemic (67.6%).
- While most psychologists expect that demand for digital/virtual delivery will decrease post-pandemic (42.9%) there is still a sizable number of psychologists who believe that digital/virtual demand will increase (27.1%) or remain the same (17.1%).
- Psychologists report that the single largest barrier for Albertans in accessing their services is cost. There was less agreement on what the 2nd through 4th ranked barriers were with approximately equal numbers of psychologists ranking the following factors: lack of centralized referral system, lack of awareness of digital/virtual options, and stigma of services.
- A majority of psychologists believe that the pandemic will have some future impact on how psychological services will be delivered. 25.8% feel this impact will be substantial and long-term, 21.3% feel it is substantial but will be short-term, and 48% feel there will only be somewhat of an impact on service delivery.
This information is only preliminary. A more detailed analysis of results including the anecdotal information will be published for members in the near future.
Essential Services Update
CAP received a response via Field Law LLP to our request for clarification of Public Health Order 07-2020. It was reiterated by Alberta Health that psychological services are an essential service. Psychologists are not restricted to providing urgent, critical, or emergency care. They have recognized that in-person psychological sessions and assessment are sometimes required. However, both Alberta Health and CAP expect members to provide services virtually whenever possible to limit the spread of COVID-19. Members who do see individuals face-to-face must comply with recommended public health risk mitigation strategies to limit the spread of COVID-19. Even in light of the relaunch announcement, psychologists are encouraged to exercise their judgment in the consideration and prioritization of which clients receive face-to-face service and consider how they will work to ensure the ongoing safety of clients who attend at their office.
The guidance of Dr. Hinshaw was heeded at the April 18, 2020 CAP Council meeting through the revision of existing CAP Bylaws to ensure that ongoing registration processes are able to successfully continue without delay. All registration committees continue to operate, however, their workload and timelines are being adjusted in light of the pandemic. All face-to-face CAP committee meetings have been cancelled until June 30, 2020. A number of internal administrative enhancements are being undertaken so that we can continue to focus on our strategic objectives.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
For those of you that submitted requests for PPE to CAP, they have been provided to Alberta Health along with your name and contact information. Alberta Health will contact you directly regarding your request.
If you need to make a request for PPE, please click here to submit your request directly to Alberta Health. This is the most effective and efficient way to make your request. This is especially true during the CAP office closure and re-distribution of resources.
CAP continues to communicate with the Government of Alberta on the public’s need for accessible and publicly funded psychological services. We have also raised the significant impact the pandemic has had on many psychologists regardless of setting. The results from the above survey will assist in this understanding.
BUSINESS AND FINANCIAL RESOURCES
Financial Support for Private Practice
CAP is also aware that many psychologists have had their practices interrupted because of COVID-19. This has come with significant economic costs impacting them and their families. The three-month practice permit fee deferral initiative was implemented to assist these colleagues. Please click here to read information on how to access available government financial supports. We encourage these members to reach out to these programs and colleagues for support.
MNP has issued a special edition newsletter, MPact, which provides excellent financial and business resources, on important pandemic-related strategies for your business. You can access this information by clicking here.
On behalf of CAP and staff please stay safe and well.
Dr. Troy Janzen, R. Psych.
CAP Deputy Registrar
CAP Monitor Self-Care Issue 61
INFORMATION FOR PROVISIONAL PSYCHOLOGISTS AND SUPERVISORS
This is just a reminder that due to the extenuating circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, provisonal psychologists are permitted to work remotely and provide telepsychology/video-conferencing to clients, as long as their supervisors are informed. Further, provisional psychologists and their supervisors may conduct their face-to-face supervision via a secured video conference platform. CAP's requirement for onsite supervision is temporarily lifted at this time.
UPDATE ON THE EPPP
For test centre closures and reopenings, please continue to check the Pearson VUE website for ongoing updates by clicking here.
If you have any questions regarding the EPPP, please contact ASPPB directly at:
Address: P.O. Box 849, Tyrone, GA 30290
UPDATED RESOURCES FOR ALL MEMBERS
In addition to the resources that CAP has been providing in all communication, please find below several links to real time information and links to other resources which you may find helpful as you navigate through these challenging times. On behalf of CAP Council and staff we wish you well in these unprecedented and uncertain times. Our strength is when we face tough times together with compassion and kindness.
REMINDER OF CAP OFFICE CLOSURE
In an attempt to protect the health of the public and CAP staff, our office doors remain closed until further notice. A reduced number of CAP staff are working on site and the remaining are working remotely. Nevertheless, we are ensuring that all of our legislative responsibilities are being carried out. Please do not hesitate to contact CAP, recognizing there may be slight delays because of these unprecedented times.