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News from Member Organisations December 2020 - Switzerland

COVID 19 and how it affected occupational therapists

From the 16th March until the 26th April Switzerland went into a total lockdown.

This meant that all outpatient and community occupational therapists had to stop treating patients, apart from urgent medical therapy.

In hospitals and rehabilitation clinics occupational therapists had to learn to work with Covid infected patients on the intensive units. They had to learn to wear protective suits. During this time there was a change in the role of their work. They supported and worked closely with nursing staff to provide the maximum care for their patients in the intensive care unit.


The role of the board and the staff of the Swiss Occupational Association

The board and the staff of the Swiss OT Association worked together for many hours, in home office, to answer all the questions they received from occupational therapists. The Swiss OT Association have 2400 members.

They worked in close cooperation with other associations and with the federal office of public health to get all the necessary information for occupational therapists. All the information they received, researched and worked out with other associations and the federal office of public health was immediately transferred to the home page.

Here are a few examples of what it involved:

  • In March there was a shortage of protective material especially protective masks. It was not possible for OT`s working in the community to receive or buy protective masks. The Swiss OT Association was able to organise and distribute the masks to all community occupational therapists. By the end of April there were no more shortages and masks could be bought easily.
  • The Swiss OT Association wrote a template for the protection of community Occupational Therapists and the patients, which they could adapt to their department.
  • The Swiss OT Association was able to enforce that 30 minutes of video therapy was recognised as therapy and paid for by insurance during the lockdown.


Sad news

The Swiss OT Association and Swiss occupational therapists are shocked and saddened by the sudden death of our General Manager André Bürki. He died unexpectedly on Sunday 8th of November 2020.

André Bürki worked for our Association for 17 years. He used his vast experience and know-how for our association with great passion. He had the gift of facing challenges with optimism, he put his heart and soul as a non-occupational therapist into bringing the concerns and ideas forward. He brought people together. He was nationally and internationally well recognized.

His loss will be greatly felt, not only by our organization but also nationally and internationally.

Our thoughts are with his family.


Tanya Zimmermann

2nd Alternate Delegate

16 November 2020

Dulliken, Switzerland