Coronavirus - Best practice guidance for care homes

We understand that care providers may experience additional pressures due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. With this in mind, we've put together some helpful advice and guidance for good practice within care homes.

Ways to social distance

  • Sit 2 metres apart - Encourage residents not to sit together on sofas in communal areas. Try placing comfortable chairs and sofas two metres apart so residents can continue to enjoy each other’s company at a safe distance
  • Stay in and be safe - Encourage residents to stay in their rooms as much as possible and in areas which are safe for them to relax in
  • Indoor activities - When planning indoor activities, have small groups of residents participating at one time and depending on the table size, allow no more than two residents per table
  • Outdoor activities - During the good weather, plan outdoor activities for residents so they can get some fresh air and boost their health and wellbeing
  • Stay connected - Staying in touch with relatives is important for residents. While they may not be able to visit in person, set up IT equipment which gives them access to video calling so they can connect with their relatives frequently
  • Dining safely - In the dining areas, spread out the tables at a two metre distance and only have one chair if the tables are small. To avoid having too many residents in at one time, set up a rota system so dining can be safe and comfortable
  • Dementia Care - To encourage residents with dementia to maintain their distance where possible, allocate certain staff members to shadow those residents. Check staffing levels to see if this option is viable first.

How to arrange your staff

  • Agency staff - Reduce the use of agency staff as much as possible. If agency staff are required, book them in for a longer period of time and allocate them to a specific area of the home
  • Shift cover - If adhoc shift cover is required, look at filling this in house before requesting agency staff
  • Transferring staff - To reduce the risk, try not to transfer staff between homes
  • Separating staff - Plan your rotas so that staff are allocated to particular areas and only care for residents in those areas. Try to avoid staff mixing as much as possible, especially those assigned to different areas
  • Contingency plans - If your current staff are unable to cover extra shifts, the following measures could be followed before booking agency staff:
    • Ensure the agency staff member doesn’t have any symptoms
    • Ensure no one in their household has symptoms
    • Ensure they're not meant to be shielding due to existing medical at risk conditions they have
  • Isolation - If any staff members start to show symptoms, they must isolate for 10 days from the start of their symptoms showing. Anyone living with them must also isolate but for 14 days. The care home manager can apply to get testing kits for staff and residents (external link). We have also opened a mobile testing centre on Chapel Lane in Wigan town centre and you can request a test online.

Dealing with external visitors

  • Visiting - Stop all unnecessary relatives and visitors to the home
  • Virtual visiting - To allow residents to stay in touch with their relatives, set up IT equipment so they can use video calling to stay connected frequently
  • Drive thru visiting - If you have enough staff and the weather is dry, consider a drive thru visiting service, but ensure social distancing is maintained
  • GP visits - Arrange GP appointments over the phone or via video call
  • Health and social care reviews - For non-essential health and social care reviews, use video calls to ensure social distancing
  • Contingency plans - If health professionals are required to visit in person, try to put the following measures in place:
    • Your staff maintain social distancing at all times
    • All staff must wear the appropriate PPE
    • Make sure the visiting health care professional is also wearing the appropriate PPE whilst in the home
    • Ensure they appropriately dispose of their PPE before they leave the premises. Assist them with any small amounts of PPE they require before leaving the home
    • Ensure the health care professional has access to hand hygiene facilities and is aware of the measures in place at the home and follows them.

Dealing with new admissions

  • Testing a new resident from the community - Before a new resident from the community is admitted in to the home, they can be tested at one of the drive thru sites. One of their family members needs to drive them through the testing site. If this can’t be arranged, the resident can be admitted into the home but must be isolated on admission and the home can then arrange a test
  • Testing a resident from hospital - All discharges from hospital should be tested 48 hours before admission
  • Continuing isolation - If an isolation period started while they were in hospital, this must continue on admission for the remainder of the 14 days
  • Isolation guidelines - To help keep the residents safe, it is good practice to isolate all residents on admission for 14 days to ensure they remain isolated if they start displaying symptoms. This will also ensure the risk to other residents is reduced to a minimum if the admitted resident is an asymptomatic carrier
  • PPE - It is vital that the proper PPE is worn at all times, especially when personal care is taking place within 2 metres. Staff can refer to government guidance on how to work safely in care homes wearing the appropriate PPE (external link).
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