This policy has been written to cover the operational procedures necessary to enable Mac Recycle to protect its Service Users and staff from the risks presented by coronavirus (Covid-19) infection.
• Information provision
• Travel requirements
• Infection control and prevention procedures
• Staff health and social distancing
• Personal protective equipment (PPE)
• Self-isolating Service Users
• Business continuity procedures
• Pandemic recovery planning.
What is Coronavirus?
The World Health Organisation defines coronaviruses as a family of viruses that cause infectious illness ranging from very mild to very severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). Covid-19 is a new strain which originated in China at the end of 2019. It has since spread worldwide, initiating a global pandemic public health emergency.
How is Coronavirus Spread?
People can catch Covid-19 from others who have the virus.
It is understood that the virus is highly infectious and moves from person to person in droplets from the nose or mouth which are spread when a person with Covid-19 coughs or exhales. In addition, the virus can survive for up to 72 hours out of the body on surfaces.
People can catch Covid-19 if they breathe in the droplets or touch infected surfaces and then touch their eyes, nose or mouth.
What Are the Symptoms?
The NHS recognises the key symptoms of Covid-19 infection as high temperature (fever), a new, continuous dry cough, and/or loss or change to the sense of smell or taste. All three main symptoms may appear, or just one or two. Some people may have tiredness, aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhoea. Symptoms begin gradually and are usually mild.
Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing special treatment. A small percentage can become seriously ill and develop difficulty breathing. This is particularly dangerous for people with weakened immune systems, for older people, and for those with long-term conditions such as diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease.
Some of Mac Recycle’s Service Users will clearly be vulnerable to being seriously ill if they are infected by the virus.
Mac Recycle will keep up to date with the latest public health and government information about the risk of coronavirus in the UK. The management of Mac Recycle is the infection control lead for the company and will maintain close links with local health protection teams and will be responsible for circulating essential information to staff and, where necessary, to Service Users and their families.
Mac Recycle will comply fully with official advice, including Coronavirus (COVID-19): provision of home care, published by Public Health England.
Infection Control and Prevention Procedures
Mac Recycle believes that general adherence to high standards of infection prevention and control is the best way to prevent the person-to-person spread of pathogens such as coronavirus and maximise the safety of staff, Service Users and their families. To achieve this Mac Recycle infection control policies and procedures will be implemented in full, especially those related to effective hand hygiene, sanitisation and environmental cleaning.
• Cover their mouth and nose with a tissue or their sleeve (not their hands) when they cough or sneeze
• Put used tissues in the bin immediately
• Wash their hands with soap and water regularly for 20 seconds and use hand sanitiser gel (at least 60% alcohol) if soap and water are not available
• Try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell
• Avoid touching their eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
Staff should comply fully with hand sanitisation policies and procedures.
Managers will ensure that policies are supported by the provision of appropriate resources such as hand sanitiser gels that contain at least 60% alcohol for all staff.
This advice will also be passed to all Service Users. It is important that care staff adhere to high standards of infection control practice while in services users’ homes and that they ask Service Users to do so too. Regular cleaning of frequently-touched hard surfaces with a suitable disinfectant and cleanser should be carried out.
Mac Recycle will comply fully with all existing infection control and prevention guidance, including the Health and Social Care Act 2008: Code of Practice for Health and Adult Social Care on the Prevention and Control of Infections and Related Guidance.
Staying Home and Social Distancing
At the height of the pandemic, the Government announced a countrywide “lockdown” with the temporary closure of places where people gather and meet. People were urged not to travel and to stay at home. They were permitted to go outside only when shopping for necessities, such as food and medicine, for medical or care needs, for example to help a vulnerable person, and to exercise once a day. While out they were asked to observe “social distancing” rules which involves keeping a safe distance of at least two metres from others not in the same household.
Vulnerable people, including those aged 70 and over, were advised to be particularly stringent in staying at home and following social distancing measures when outside.
The lockdown was considered essential to halt the spread of the virus. Once infection rates were low enough it was progressively eased but on the basis that people still follow current “social distancing” rules.
Restrictions may be reimposed on a regional basis if transmission rates increase.
Mac Recycle will ensure that all current public health messages relating to staying home and social distancing are passed on to staff, Service Users and relatives. Staff and Service Users should observe social distancing where possible when not providing direct personal care and when interacting with each other.
To protect staff and support social distancing at work a range of “Covid secure” measures will be taken in the workplace, including:
• Supporting staff to work from home where possible
• Reviewing and updating workplace risk assessments
• Increasing the safety of offices by rearranging desks and workstations, adjusting office processes to enable staff to maintain a safe working distance of two metres between each other wherever possible
• Allocating maximum occupancy limits to office areas
• Increasing workplace cleaning and ventilation
• Ensuring the provision of hand hygiene resources, including supplies of soaps and paper towels in toilets and the provision of hand sanitisers where needed
• Staggering office staff arrival and leaving times
• Limiting the sharing of equipment
• Reducing the need for face-to-face meetings by using digital communication methods wherever possible
• Reorganising training and recruitment processes to reduce face-to-face elements to a minimum
• Displaying appropriate Covid-19 safety signage where needed
• Visitors to the offices only permitted if absolutely necessary
Measures will be kept under review.
Staff Health and Self-isolation
Government strategy is to ask people to self-isolate in their homes where they have symptoms of Covid-19 infection or think that they might have the virus.
Staff who are unwell with suspected Covid-19 or who have come into contact with an infected individual or who share a household with someone who is unwell should not come to work but must comply with the latest government advice about self-isolating themselves in their home.
The guidance states that:
• People who have symptoms of infection (new continuous cough and/or high temperature and/or loss of sense of taste or smell — however mild) and live alone should self-isolate by staying at home and not leaving their house for 7 days from when the symptoms started
• Those who live with others and one person has symptoms should self-isolate as a household for 14 days from the day when the first person in the house became ill.
All staff who are self-isolating must inform their Care Coordinator (who will inform the Manager) as soon as possible that they will not be in to work.
Mac Recycle is aware that the Government has published guidance on the protection of people who have conditions that make them “high-risk”. Guidance on shielding and protecting people defined on medical grounds as extremely vulnerable from COVID-19, will be circulated to care staff and its action points incorporated in care planning and care provision as required.
High-risk individuals are subject to special “shielding” arrangements.
During the pandemic crisis Mac Recycle will keep Service User care plans under constant review to ensure that their needs are being met. We will work closely with relatives/carers and with care and health partners and charities/community support groups. Where necessary arrangements will be established with other professional organisations with reference to our existing information sharing and adult safeguarding policies. Plans for mutual aid may be agreed which reduce the number of different people visiting a certain individual, especially those who are considered at risk or subject to shielding arrangements.
Mac Recycle will follow relevant guidance on the care of people during the pandemic, including Coronavirus (COVID-19): provision of home care published by Public Health England (PHE).
The Guidance states:-
• If anyone being cared for by a home care provider reports developing Covid-19 symptoms they should be supported to contact NHS 111 via telephone, or online
• Home care workers are advised to report suspected cases of Covid-19 to their managers who should work with community partners, commissioners and the person involved to review their care needs
• The risk of virus transmission will be reduced by managers and staff working together to divide Service Users into “care groups” with a specific staff team allocated to provide care to each group
• This will include identifying “high-risk” shielded Service Users as a specific group and allocating staff who only provide care for that group
• Risks will also be reduced by reducing contact between staff, including replacing face-to-face meetings with remote communications, and by staggering times of entry to community bases.
The Guidance also states:-
• In all cases care staff must follow infection control best practice, desanitising/washing hands frequently and using personal protective equipment (PPE) appropriately. Frequently touched surfaces should be cleaned regularly with household detergent and/or bleach.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Mac Recycle staff should use all personal protective equipment (PPE) as directed in our infection prevention and control policies. We will also comply with the following Public Health England (PHE) guidance.
• COVID-19 personal protective equipment (PPE)
• Considerations for acute personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages
Mac Recycle is aware that COVID-19: Personal protective equipment (PPE) — resource for care workers delivering homecare (domiciliary care) during sustained COVID-19 transmission in England provides guidance about periods when there is considered to be “sustained transmission” of the Covid-19 virus. This covers periods when the virus is assessed to be common in the community and care staff is likely to come into contact with it during their routine work. At such times additional safeguards are advised.
The guidance states that, during sustained transmission periods:
• Home care staff should wear disposable gloves, a disposable plastic apron and a fluid-repellent surgical mask whenever providing personal care which requires them to be in direct contact with a client (eg touching) or where they are within two metres of anyone in a household who is coughing
• The recommendations apply whether the client being cared for has Covid-19 symptoms or not, and includes all clients, including those in the “extremely vulnerable” group
• Eye protection may also be needed where there is risk of droplets or secretions from the client’s mouth, nose, lungs or from body fluids reaching the eyes (eg caring for someone who is repeatedly coughing or who may be vomiting)
• Staff only need wear a surgical mask when a visit does not require them to touch a client but does need them to be within two metres.
Disposable gloves and aprons are “single-use” only and should be disposed of after every episode of care. Hands should be washed or desanitised after PPE removal. Masks and face protection may be worn on a “continuous” or “sessional” basis between breaks. Masks need not be changed between clients unless they are soiled or damaged. They should be changed at breaks for the next duty period.
Mac Recycle will support staff and their families to access coronavirus testing as necessary. All frontline social care staff are classified as “essential workers” and are eligible for such tests. Those who are self-isolating can book a test directly, selecting a regional test site drive-through appointment or a home test kit. Employers can book tests through an employer referral test booking route.
Travelling is now much reduced due to countries around the world closing their borders.
Mac Recycle requires staff to comply with any current official government advice and to inform their manager wherever the guidance may apply to them, especially guidance relating to any need to self-quarantine after international travel.
Latest travel advice can be found on the GOV.UK website.
Business Continuity Procedures and Pandemic Recovery Planning
In addition to Mac Recycle’s general business continuity and recovery planning policies, we recognise the need to have a separate pandemic recovery plan and procedure. This is because a general continuity recovery plan focuses on a short-term recovery programme. In contrast, the effects of the pandemic could last many months.
Therefore Mac Recycle contingency measures will be implemented.
• A communications strategy will be developed to ensure that staff, Service Users and their families are provided with up-to-date and accurate information on the status of the pandemic and on Mac Recycle’s response.
• Every effort will be made to provide the information to Service Users in a format that they can understand. We recognise that the current crisis will be upsetting and worrying for Service Users, their relatives and staff
• Information will be provided to staff via e-mail, direct calls and text messages
• Training will utilise online e-learning and other electronic forms where possible — any face-to-face training will be conducting conforming to social distancing rules
• Mac Recycle’s leave and absence policies will be continuously reviewed as the status of the pandemic changes, for instance, it may become necessary to cancel leave in case of serious shortages of staff
• Staff will be informed of any additional measures to limit the spread of disease in a pandemic situation — this might include:
o Avoiding unnecessary travel
o Cancellation of face-to-face meetings
o Plans to reduce the impact of absentees
o Working from home where possible for managers and office staff
o Systems to lessen the impact of supply chain disruption.
• Essential services will be prioritised.
• Advice will be provided for vulnerable Service Users on steps to take to protect themselves.
• Care plans will be reviewed to identify Service Users most at risk in case of service disruption. (RAG rating will be implemented only when absolutely necessary)
• As a contingency measure, staff will be cross-trained in various functions to ensure that adequate cover is provided in different roles should sickness rates rise.
• Staff who perform roles that can be done from home will be encouraged to do so
The managers will link with any local resilience forums relevant to health and social care provision.
Managers will be responsible for ensuring that staff understands the pandemic recovery plan policy and procedure. Staff should familiarise themselves with the procedure and should speak to the manager if they have any questions or concerns.
The procedure aims to ensure that Mac Recycle will be able to continue to provide care to its Service Users during any disruption caused by a pandemic.
Monitoring and Review
This policy will be continuously monitored and updated to take account of any changes to the official advice provided relating to coronavirus.