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Australian Health Review Australian Health Review Society
Journal of the Australian Healthcare & Hospitals Association

Allied health service delivery in residential aged care and the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic: a survey of the allied health workforce

Isabelle Meulenbroeks A * , Magdalena Z. Raban A , Karla Seaman A , Nasir Wabe A and Johanna Westbrook A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Australian Institute of Health Innovation, Macquarie University, Level 6, 75 Talavera Road, North Ryde, NSW 2122, Australia.

* Correspondence to:

Australian Health Review 47(6) 729-734
Submitted: 21 April 2023  Accepted: 11 September 2023  Published: 28 September 2023

© 2023 The Author(s) (or their employer(s)). Published by CSIRO Publishing on behalf of AHHA. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND)



Industry reports suggest that routine and essential care in Australian residential aged care (RAC), including allied health (AH) services, were disrupted during the coronavirus diseas 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. This study aimed to explore whether AH services in RAC were paused during the pandemic, factors associated with a pause in care delivery, and qualitative details on how COVID-19 impacted AH service delivery.


A 26-question survey was distributed via social media, health service providers, and AH networks between February and April 2022. Participation was restricted to AH professionals and assistants with experience in RAC during the pandemic. A mix of closed and open-ended response questions was used to collect demographic data and experiences of delivering care during the pandemic. Quantitative responses were analysed with descriptive statistics and a probit model. Content analysis was performed on open-ended questions.


One hundred and four AH professionals and assistants responded to the survey. Fifty-five percent of participants (n = 51) were contractually or casually employed. AH services were negatively impacted by the pandemic with 52% of respondents experiencing a pause in service delivery and 78% reporting poorer AH care quality. In a probit model, contracted/casually employed respondents were more likely to experience a pause in care delivery (1.03, P < 0.05) compared to permanently employed AH professionals.


Insecure work arrangements may have exacerbated inconsistent care during the pandemic (impacting residents) and may have negative implications on the RAC AH workforce. In the future, an AH inclusive workforce policy including data collection and research is required to monitor and plan the RAC workforce.

Keywords: allied health, COVID-19, employment, health workforce, nutritionists, physical therapists, residential facilities, resource-limited settings, speech-language pathology.


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