Covid - Frequently asked questions by care homes

Our expert care home consultant Issac Theophilos answers frequently asked questions from care homes. 

Which guidance should I follow in terms of use of PPE in care homes? 

The Department of Health Guidance published the latest guidance called "How to work safely in care homes?". The guidance shows the minimum requirements, it is up to the employer to decide if they want to go over and beyond to keep their staff and residents safe. For example the decision to use a coverall or FFP3, or extending the isolation of staff from 7 days to 14 days. 

Should I allow visitors in my care home?

The restrictions on care homes still remain the same. No changes have been officially released by CQC or DHSC. Some care homes started enabling visitors already. While not allowing the visitors is detrimental to the mental health wellbeing of the residents, you also want to do proper risk assessments and agree that with your insurance provider before enabling 'cautious' visits. The visit for the end of life care can be facilitated by wearing proper PPE. 

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Should staff with asthma wear FFP3 masks?

Anyone who has severe asthma should have received a shielding letter. In such a case, you will have to ask them to stay away from the care home and paid under the furlough scheme. Anyone with mild asthma, it is the employee's choice to decide if they feel safe to work or not. If the employee intends to work, the employer will have to do a risk assessment. If you have a positive case of Covid, you should ask the staff to keep away. It may be difficult to choose a comfortable mask unless they try different types. It should not be less protective than Type IIR when providing personal care. If using a respirator mask (FFP2 or FFP3), you will have to do fit testing. Ask your local CCG IPC lead to give you guidance on fit testing.  HSE has released some useful guidance here.  

What is track and tracing?

Track and tracing are used to reduce community transmission. The government has recruited many people for this service. It gets complicated when one person is traced back to a care home. We are still awaiting guidance from the government on its implications in a care home. If the staff are not keeping the social distancing within the care home or there is a breach of PPE used, against the minimum standards as per the latest guidance, then there is a risk that many staff will have to isolate together at a time. This can have different implications - liability issues about the breach of PPE usage or serious staff shortages. Hence it is important for all staff to keep the social distancing guidance and effective use of PPE. Occupational exposure of Covid should be reported to RIDDOR. 

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Should I take admissions from hospitals?

Taking admission from the hospital depends on your setting and the confidence of your team in handling any potential cases. Currently, you should request a copy of the Covid test to be sent to you electronically before you accept anyone from the hospital. The number of Covid cases in hospitals has significantly decreased in some area, but they still have to fulfil your request for screening. You shouldn't be forced to take anyone without screening. 

How should I take admissions from their own home?

It is very unlikely that the person will be exposed to Covid if they are at home. It would be a good idea to understand who their primary carer is now. Currently, only people with symptoms can take a test from the public. There are private testing provisions done by verified laboratories. Contact us if you want to facilitate it. Fourteen-day isolation will be a reasonable thing to do, but you will have to ensure the resident is given some extra attention to settle them. Always remember the accuracy of the PCR test is questionable, you should always go by symptoms. 

 

This article is valid on 3rd June 2020. The guidance may have changed since then. 

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