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Covid-19 Guidance for the Care Home Sector

The Care Home Sector is experiencing its own unique set of circumstances as the country manages through the COVID-19 outbreak. In response to this we have put together some specific details a Care Home should consider to ensure protection of both its staff and residents. Much of the detail here is sourced from the governments guidance to care homes released on 2nd April 2020.

Key points to consider:

  • Follow social distancing measures for everyone in the Home, including cancelling all gatherings and plan alternative arrangements for communal activities which incorporate social distancing.
  • Family visits:
    • Family and friends should be advised not to visit care homes, except next of kin in exceptional situations such as end of life.
    • Visitors should be limited to one at a time to preserve physical distancing.
    • Visitors should be reminded to wash their hands for 20 seconds on entering and leaving the home and catch coughs and sneezes in tissues.
    • Visitors to minimise contact with other residents and staff (less than 15 minutes / 2 metres etc.)
    • Alternatives to in-person visiting should be explored, including the use of telephones or video, or the use of plastic or glass barriers between residents and visitors.
    • Visitors should visit the resident in their own room directly upon arrival and leave immediately after the visit.
  • Follow Shielding guidance for the most vulnerable.
  • Monitoring – keep up monitoring for cases of COVID-19 in your setting. Some suggestions on monitoring are:
    • to implement daily monitoring of residence and staff;
    • to assess each resident twice daily for the development of a fever, cough or shortness of breath.
    • If any resident shows these symptoms contact NHS 111.
    • Consider residents with dementia and cognitive impairment as they may be less able to report symptoms.
  • Protecting Staff:
    • Remind all staff of the importance of good hygiene
      • Wash hands with soap and water. Alcohol-based hand rub (ABHR) can be used if hands are not visibly dirty or soiled.
      • Respiratory and Cough Hygiene – ‘Catch it, bin it, kill it’ .
    • Ensure staff are wearing PPE as required.
    • If staff are in contact with a COVID19 patient while not wearing PPE they can still remain at work if the exposure was short lived. However, a risk assessment should be undertaken with the staff member based on their individual circumstances.
    • Staff caring for a symptomatic resident should:
      • Be cohorted away from other care home residents and other staff where possible/practical.
      • Where possible staff should only work with either symptomatic or asymptomatic residents.
      • Where possible staff who have had confirmed COVID-19 and recovered should care for COVID-19 patients. Such staff should still follow the infection control procedures (e.g wearing PPE).
    • Staff who show symptoms should:
      • Not attend work;
      • Notify their Manager immediately;
      • Self isolate for 7 days.
    • Staff who have a symptomatic household member must stay at home and not leave the house for 14 days. The 14-day period starts from the day when the first person in the house became ill. If the staff member develops symptoms during this period, they can return to work 7 days after their symptoms started and they are no longer symptomatic.
    • Staff who fall into the clinically vulnerable group should not provide direct care to symptomatic residents.
  • Ensure your business continuity policy is in place and up to date. If you believe that there may be an imminent risk to the provision of care due to the level of staff absences, such that there is potential need to close the Home, this should be raised with the Local Authority without delay.

Some guidelines for if symptoms are shown by residents are detailed below.

  • Isolate the resident displaying symptoms and follow infection prevention and control, and isolation procedures:
    • If isolation is needed, a resident’s own room can be used. Ideally the room should be a single bedroom with en-suite facilities. Where this is not available, a dedicated bathroom near to the person’s bedroom should be identified for their use only.
    • Protective Personal Equipment (PPE) should be used when within 2 metres of a resident with possible or confirmed COVID-19. Guidance on PPE can be accessed on gov.uk. Display signage to prevent unnecessary entry into the isolation room. Confidentiality must be maintained.
    • Room door(s) should be kept closed where possible and safe to do so. Where this is not possible ensure the bed is moved to the furthest safe point in the room to try and achieve a 2 metres distance to the open door as part of a risk assessment.
    • All necessary procedures and care should be carried out within the resident’s room. Only essential staff (wearing PPE) should enter the resident’s room.
    • Entry and exit from the room should be minimised during care, specifically when these care procedures produce aerosols or respiratory droplets.
    • Ensure adequate appropriate supplies of PPE and cleaning materials are available for all staff in the care home.
    • All staff, including domestic cleaners, must be trained and understand how to use PPE appropriate to their role to limit the spread of COVID-19.
    • Dedicate specific medical equipment (e.g. thermometers, blood pressure cuff, pulse oximeter, etc.) for the use of care home staff for residents with possible or confirmed COVID-19. Clean and disinfect equipment before re-use with another patient.
    • Restrict sharing of personal devices (mobility devices, books, electronic gadgets) with other residents.
    • When transferring symptomatic residence between rooms the residence should wear surgical face masks.

If you have any questions or require support with health and safety during this time, please do not hesitate to contact Clover HR on 0121 516 0299 or email us at info@cloverhr.co.uk

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