COVID-19 guidance for residential care providers
Public Health England has produced guidance which covers key messages to support planning and preparation in the event of an outbreak or widespread transmission of COVID-19. We set out the key aspects of the above guidance for residential care providers below:
- Minimise the risks of transmission by tightening of visitor policy
- Asking that no one visits who has suspected COVID-19 or is generally unwell and emphasise good hand hygiene for visitors.
- Contractors on site should be kept to a minimum.
- The review should also consider the wellbeing of residents, and the positive impact of seeing friends and family.
- Providers should consider their approach if they have identified residents who are considered to be extremely vulnerable and should therefore be subjected to the recent advice regarding shielding, summarised in another briefing.
- Adopt the following approach where a resident HAS symptoms
- If isolation is needed, a resident’s own room can be used. Ideally the room should be a single bedroom with en suite facilities.
- The care home should implement isolation precautions when someone displays symptoms of COVID-19 as they would if an individual had influenza.
- All staff will be trained in hand hygiene. Providers should carefully consider the advice given to staff in this regard and in addition how to approach the washing of residents’ hands. Adoption of policy and protocols may serve to ensure consistent standards.
- Staff should use personal protective equipment (PPE) for activities that bring them into close personal contact.
- Aprons, gloves and fluid repellent surgical masks should be used in these situations. If there is a risk of splashing, then eye protection will minimise risk.
- New PPE must be used for each episode of care. It is essential that used PPE is stored securely within disposable rubbish bags, to be placed into another bag, tied securely and kept separate from other waste. This should be put aside for at least 72 hours before being disposed of as normal.
- There will be a free issue of PPE to support adult social care providers to support compliance with the updated advice. This will be issued from the pandemic influenza stockpile and arrangements will be put in place for adult social care providers to access further PPE as necessary.
- Clean frequently touched surfaces.
- Personal waste, such as used tissues, continence pads and other items soiled with bodily fluids, and disposable cleaning cloths can 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.
- Do not shake dirty laundry before washing. This minimises the possibility of dispersing virus through the air.
- Items heavily soiled with body fluids, such as vomit or diarrhoea, or items that cannot be washed, should be disposed of with the owner’s consent.
- Adopt following approach where residents are NOT symptomatic
- No personal protective equipment is required above and beyond normal good hygiene practices.
- General interventions may include increased cleaning activity to reduce risk of retention of virus on hard surfaces, and keeping property properly ventilated by opening windows whenever safe and appropriate.
- Seek advice from Public Health England as appropriate.
Care homes can seek additional advice from their local Public Health England health protection teams. Testing of residents may be organised if care homes have several cases at a time.
- Communicate with NHS and local authorities regarding support
- Clinical commissioning groups, NHS providers and local community services and primary care will be working with and supporting local authorities and care home providers in the provision of care.
- Local authorities will be working with their Local Resilience Forums and drawing on their pre-existing plans for pandemic influenza
This briefing is for guidance purposes only. RadcliffesLeBrasseur LLP accepts no responsibility or liability whatsoever for any action taken or not taken in relation to this note and recommends that appropriate legal advice be taken having regard to a client's own particular circumstances.