In the wake of coronavirus, the Department for Health and Social Care and Public Health England has issued Guidance on home care provision and social distancing for vulnerable people.

If you are a provider of home care, someone in receipt of home care, or a loved one is dependent on care at home, the key points are as follows.

If you are a provider of home care:

If you are a domiciliary care provider, it is suggested you take the following steps to maintain delivery of care:

  • Review your list of clients and ensure this is up to date. Consider how you and others could benefit from sharing this information electronically with local partners.
  • Consider arrangements to support the sharing of the workforce with local primary service providers and the deployment of volunteers, if it is safe to do so.
  • Note the arrangements that local authorities, CCG and NHS 111 are putting in place to refer vulnerable people self-isolating at home to volunteers who can offer support.
  • Ensure you have the appropriate PPE equipment, which will be available for free to support adult social care providers to comply with this updated Guidance.

If you are a care worker concerned that you may have COVID-19:

If a member of staff is concerned they have COVID-19 the care worker should follow NHS advice. If advised to self-isolate at home, the care worker ought to follow the stay at home guidance.

If you are an individual receiving care at home and you may have symptoms of coronavirus:

If the individual receiving care has symptoms of COVID-19, the risk of transmission should be minimised through safe working procedures. These include:

  • Use of Personal protective equipment (PPE): Care workers should use PPE for activities that bring them into close contact. If there is a risk of splashing, eye protection will minimise risk. New PPE should be used for each episode of care. PPE should be stored securely within disposable rubbish bags. These bags should be placed into another bag, tied securely and kept separate from other waste within the room. This should be put aside for at least 72 hours before being put in the usual household waste bin.
  • Cleaning: If a care worker undertakes cleaning duties, they should use the usual household products for cleaning. Personal waste should be stored securely within disposable rubbish bags.
  • Laundry: If a care worker supports an individual with laundry, then they should not shake dirty laundry. Wash items as appropriate. If an individual does not have a washing machine, wait 72 hours after the 7 day isolation period to take laundry to a public launderette.

What will happen to home care provision if neither the individual nor the care worker has symptoms of COVID-19?

The status quo very much continues.

No PPE is required. Normal hygiene practices should be observed and you should continue to follow best practice with regard to hand-washing practices.

Guidance relating to handwashing and respiratory hygiene can be found by clicking here.

What is social distancing?

Social distancing is steps that you can take to reduce the social interaction between people to help reduce the transmission of coronavirus.

The steps are:

  • Avoid contact with someone who is displaying symptoms of coronavirus. These symptoms included high temperature and/or new and continuous cough.
  • Avoid non-essential use of public transport, varying your travel times to avoid rush hour, where possible.
  • Work from home, where possible. Your employer should support you to do this.
  • Avoid large gatherings, and gatherings in smaller public spaces such as pubs, cinemas, restaurants, theatres, bars and clubs.
  • Avoid gatherings with friends and family. Keep in touch using remote technology such as phone, internet and social media.
  • Use telephone or online services to contact your GP or other essential services.

Everyone should be trying to follow these measures as much as far as possible.

For those over 70, who have an underlying health condition or for those who are pregnant, we strongly advise you to follow the above measures as far as possible, to significantly limit your face to face interaction with friends and family.

Who is considered to be in the “high risk” category and should be considering implementing social distancing measures?

Those who are considered to be “high risk” are:

  • Aged 70 or over (regardless of medical conditions).
  • Under 70 with an underlying health condition listed below (i.e. anyone instructed to get a flu jab as an adult each year on medical grounds:
  • Chronic, long-term respiratory diseases such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema or bronchitis
  • Chronic heart disease, such as heart failure
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Chronic liver disease, such as hepatitis
  • Chronic neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, motor neurone disease, MS, a learning disability of cerebral palsy
  • Diabetes
  • Problems with your spleen
  • A weakened immune system as a result of conditions such as HIV or AIDS, or medicines such as steroid tablets or chemotherapy
  • Being seriously overweight (a BMI of 40 or above)
  • Those who are pregnant.

For those with clinical conditions which put them at even higher risk of severe illness as a result of coronavirus, next week NHS England will be contacting those individuals directly with advice regarding taking more stringent measures to keep yourself and others safe. For now, you are advising to implement full social distancing measures.

If you have any concerns regarding COVID-19, please do not hesitate to contact our healthcare solicitors or community care solicitors. You can get in touch by emailing online.enquiries@la-law.com or calling 01202 786171.