What should care homes be doing about coronavirus (COVID-19)?
Care home owners and operators have been coming to us a lot over the past few weeks, asking this very question. Our first response is always to refer them to Public Health England’s latest advice, which is being updated daily since the outbreak: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for-the-public. This advises that there’s no need to alter normal practice but does stress the importance of washing hands frequently and thoroughly.
Fulcrum advises that homes should insist that all visitors and staff use hand sanitiser on entering the care home. All homes should make sure that a full alcohol-based hand sanitiser bottle is available by the front door or reception.
Visitors and staff should then wash their hands again as soon as they can in a toilet or bathroom in the home. All care homes should make sure that bathrooms are clean and suitably supplied with soap and a drying machine or paper towels. Used paper towels should be disposed of regularly in sealed plastic bags.
Hands should again be washed thoroughly when leaving the home.
If a member of staff becomes ill at work with suspected COVID-19 symptoms, the Government advises that they should be isolated. They should be kept in a room separate from all others, or if that is not possible, then at least two metres away from anyone. Specific advice should be sought by calling NHS 111, which may arrange for virus testing, or an ambulance if the staff member is seriously ill.
If a COVID-19 test turns out to be positive, then the local Health Protection Team will be notified and will advise on how to further deal with the matter.
The coronavirus situation is changing daily and it will not be long before new guidance is released by the Department of Health. So, it is vital for care homes to check the official advice regularly for any updates.
If you have any queries, or would like us to advise you on systems for creating a new policy on this, we will be pleased to help. Call us on 020 3411 4014.