Covid 19 has taken the world by storm affecting some more than others. For the elderly it holds that little bit more fear as demographically they are more at risk.
Considerate employers, especially in residential care homes, are keenly aware of this heightened sense of fear amongst their clients and take all the necessary safety measures and precautions to prevent the virus from spreading.
Various governmental and health care bodies have provided ample information to help combat the spread of the coronavirus. Like the Department of Health and Social Care backed Social Care Institute for Excellence which provides advice and best practice information.
Due to the ongoing nature of the virus and the scientific information that comes to light this information is updated regularly.
By utilising information provided by the government we can look at 5 steps we can take to reduce the risk of Covid 19 in residential care homes.
Increase Virus Awareness
You might think that people are all too keenly aware of the virus. But being aware of something is not the same as being knowledgeable about it. Both staff and residents need to know how the virus spreads and what to do or not to do to help limit its spread.
Due to the nature of personal care, and how the virus spreads, the close contact with people during washing, personal hygiene tasks, and the like means that both the career and the person being cared for need to know how to limit any possible spread.
The SCIE advises that ‘frequent handwashing and good hand hygiene is an essential method to control infection’. Its importance in helping minimise spread cannot be understated.
Residents and staff alike should be aware of the correct method of washing your hands thoroughly and ample provision should be made of suitable hand-washing materials like soap and towels.
Where contamination is suspected or confirmed it is advised that ‘all people and staff should decontaminate their hands with alcohol-based rub when moving in and out’ of such areas.
Respiratory and Cough Hygiene
Covid-19 is spread mainly through respiratory droplets. These droplets are released when someone sneezes, coughs, or even exhales. Coming into contact with these droplets, either directly by being sneezed on, or indirectly by touching a surface that has droplets on it and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth, will make you infected.
Because of this it is important that staff and residents try and minimise transmission by adopting good respiratory and cough hygiene. Simple things like using disposable tissues and using and disposing of them properly or even coughing into your elbow instead of your hand in emergency situations.
The provision of tissues and waste bins should be ample and available to everyone.
Personal Protective Equipment
Known as PPE this covers the range of protective items and clothing that can be worn. The most noticeable of which is a face mask.
The correct use of PPE is required in the care home setting and while this used to involve staff in protective equipment almost all the time the current guidance recommended by Public Health England is that ‘when staff and the person receiving care are not showing symptoms or suspected of suffering from Covid-19, the use of PPE is not required beyond normal good hygiene practices’.
Track and Trace
At the end of May 2020 the NHS test and trace service was launched. The aim of this service is to provide quick testing for people with symptoms and ‘asymptomatic testing for health and care staff and care home residents’ to trace recent contacts of a positive result to notify that they must self-isolate.
By taking part in this service the care home will be able to get an idea of the level of risk for the residents and act accordingly.
You can never be too safe when it comes to reducing the risk of Covid-19 in a care home and thankfully with the extensive amount of information available it is easier done than ever.