The Department for Health and Social Care and Public Health England has issued Guidance on residential care and social distancing for vulnerable people. The official guidance is likely to be updated during this fast-developing situation and it is important to keep up to date with current guidance.
If you are a provider of residential care, a resident in a nursing or care home, or you loved one is a resident in a care or nursing home, the key points are as follows.
If you are a provider:
If you are a provider, it is suggested you take the following steps to maintain delivery of care:
- Work with local authorities
- Consider ways they can contribute to keep people safe, including: use of tools to report bed capacity, use of tools for secure transfer of information, increase use of virtual communication (such as Skype)
- Continue to procure PPE. There will be free issues of PPE issued from the pandemic influenza stockpile, if necessary.
If a member of staff is concerned they may have COVID-19:
How to minimise the risk of transmission?
Providers are advised to review their visiting policy. The review should consider the wellbeing of residents. The provider must take the social distancing guidance into consideration when reviewing their visiting policy. Some providers have already taken an early opportunity to reduce visiting if it is not necessary.
If a resident has symptoms of COVID-19:
Providers are not expected to have dedicated isolation facilities in a residential home. The advice is to adopt the same isolation procedures in the event a resident had flu.
- Hand hygiene: 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.
- Use of Personal protective equipment (PPE): Care workers should use PPE for activities that bring them into close personal contact, such as washing and bathing. 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. There is no need to wear PPE if the carer or the resident do not have any symptoms of the virus.
- Cleaning: Frequently touched surfaces must be cleaned regularly. Personal waste 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 disposed of as normal.
- Laundry: To minimise the possibility of the virus dispersing through the air, do not shake dirty laundry. Wash items as appropriate.
What is social distancing?
Social distancing involves taking steps to reduce the social interaction between people and therefore help reduce the transmission of COVID-19.
These steps are:
- Avoid contact with someone who is displaying symptoms, i.e. a 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.
Who is considered to be in the “high risk” category and therefore should be considering implementing social distancing measures?
Those who 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;
- 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.