Forget Me Not Home Services Ltd recognises that the outbreak of a new strain of coronavirus SARS coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) which results in the disease COVID-19 is a fast-moving situation. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has stated that this is now a pandemic. As care providers, ensuring robust infection control and business continuity plans form part of preparing business at Forget Me Not Home Services Ltd for any events that can cause disruption to the normal business.
Forget Me Not Home Services Ltd will ensure that staff are aware and understand the importance of pandemic preparedness and will carry out preparations by following the checklist in the Pandemic Policy and Procedure at Forget Me Not Home Services Ltd. Forget Me Not Home Services Ltd understands that business continuity planning involves all aspects of the business and to be effective Forget Me Not Home Services Ltd must work with their partners, suppliers and commissioners to ensure that a safe and effective service can be maintained.
Forget Me Not Home Services Ltd understands that they have a responsibility for ensuring that staff follow good infection control and prevention techniques and that they support Service Users with this too. Forget Me Not Home Services Ltd will ensure that staff have access to reliable information to reduce anxiety and dispel any myths and inaccurate information that may cause worry or distress to staff, Service Users or the wider public.
Forget Me Not Home Services Ltd recognises that the WHO declared COVID-19 a pandemic on 11 March 2020. Forget Me Not Home Services Ltd will ensure that it reviews the Pandemic Policy and Procedure and will complete the checklist to ensure that the business is prepared and that robust business continuity plans are in place.
Reducing the Risk of Contracting or Spreading the Virus
Forget Me Not Home Services Ltd will ensure that staff, when not at work, follow the WHO and Public Health England advice to reduce the risk of contracting the virus and the risk of spreading it. They must also supp ort Service Users to follow the government requirements and remind them that failure to follow this can result in a fine. The following procedures (from 4th July) must be followed:
- You can meet in groups of up to two households (your support bubble counts as one household) in any location – public or private, indoors or outdoors. You do not always have to meet with the same household – you can meet with different households at different times. However, it remains the case – even inside someone’s home – that you should socially distance from anyone not in your household or bubble.
- When you are outside you can continue to meet in groups of up to six people from different households, following social distancing guidelines
- Those who have been able to form a support bubble (i.e. those in single adult households) can continue to have close contact as if they live with the other people in the bubble, but you should not change who you have formed a support bubble with additional businesses and venues, including restaurants, pubs, cinemas, visitor attractions, hotels, and campsites will be able to open but we will continue to keep closed certain premises where the risks of transmission may be higher
- Other public places, such as libraries, community centres, places of worship, outdoor playgrounds and outdoor gyms will be able to open
- You can stay overnight away from your home with your own household or support bubble, or with members of one other household (where you need to keep social distancing)
- It will be against the law to gather in groups larger than 30 people, except for a limited set of circumstances to be set out in law. Police will have the power to break up groups larger than 30, apart from these exceptions
- Wash your hands regularly and properly for at least 20 seconds (2 verses of Happy Birthday) by using soap and running water
- Use hand sanitiser when it is not possible to wash hands with soap and water. Hand sanitiser must contain 60% alcohol to be effective
- Follow Social Distancing guidance – If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including the COVID-19 virus if the person coughing has the disease
- Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth – Hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses. Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth. From there, the virus can enter your body and can make you sick
- Practise respiratory hygiene – Make sure you, and the people around you, follow good respiratory hygiene. This means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. If you do not have a tissue, use your sleeve. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately and wash your hands, or use hand sanitiser if you do not have immediate access to soap and running water. Droplets spread virus. By following good respiratory hygiene, you protect the people around you from viruses such as cold, flu and COVID-19
If you have a fever (37.8 degrees, a new/persistent cough, or a loss or change in your sense of smell or taste) you must self-isolate for 10 days. The NHS advice below must be followed:
- If you have symptoms of coronavirus infection (COVID-19), however mild, stay at home and do not leave your house for 10 days from when your symptoms started
- If you live with someone who has symptoms, you will need to stay at home for 14 days from the day their symptoms started. This is because it can take 14 days for symptoms to appear
- If more than one person at home has symptoms, stay at home for 14 days from the day the first person started having symptoms
- If you get symptoms, stay at home for 10 days from when your symptoms start, even if it means you are at home for longer than 14 days
- If you do not get symptoms, you can stop staying at home after 14 days
You must follow the Government’s updated advice.
Staff should wash their hands:
- Before leaving home
- On arrival at work
- After using the toilet
- After touching pets
- After breaks and sporting activities
- Before food preparation
- After using public transport
- Before eating any food, including snacks
- Before leaving work
- On arrival at home
Forget Me Not Home Services Ltd will follow confidentiality and GDPR policies and procedures to ensure that the details of staff involved in caring for Service Users with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 is kept confidential. Employees must also respect each other’s confidentially and take care not to inadvertently share information when using social media.
Where staff are suspected or confirmed to have contracted COVID-19, their personal details must be treated as confidential, as they would be for any other Forget Me Not Home Services Ltd Service User.
In the event of an outbreak of COVID-19, where staff are moved from other areas to support work on COVID-19, assessments should be made on the ability to continue to deliver safe and effective care in the services affected. Steps must be taken to mitigate any risks resulting from staff moving to other areas.
Forget Me Not Home Services Ltd will, as part of pandemic preparedness, assess whether any staff need additional training, support or require a DBS check.
Contact between staff must also be reduced where possible, Forget Me Not Home Services Ltd will ensure that:
- Team meetings and handovers are held remotely where possible
- Times of entry to collect equipment from Forget Me Not Home Services Ltd are staggered for staff (clutter must also be kept to a minimum within community bases and hard surfaces should be regularly cleaned)
- There is a high level of support and a focus on staff health and wellbeing during this unprecedented time
- Teams and individuals should have remote access to regular supervision
- Remote, secure sharing of information relating to care between agencies can be supported by signing up to NHSmail, or another secure email system, where they are applicable to Forget Me Not Home Services Ltd
Reducing the Risk of Stigmatization
Stigma occurs when people negatively associate an infectious disease, such as COVID-19, with a specific population. In the case of COVID-19, there are an increasing number of reports of public stigmatization against people from areas affected by the epidemic, this means that people are being labelled, stereotyped, separated, and/or experience loss of status and discrimination because of a potential negative affiliation with the disease. Forget Me Not Home Services Ltd will ensure that staff understand the importance of preventing and addressing social stigma by making sure facts are available to staff and Service Users.
Actions if a Service User Meets the Criteria and Displays Symptoms
If a Service User receiving care and support has symptoms of COVID-19, then the risk of transmission should be minimised through safe working procedures, as detailed below:
Personal Protective Equipment
Care Workers should use personal protective equipment (PPE) for activities that bring them into close personal contact, such as washing and bathing, personal hygiene and contact with bodily fluids.
Aprons, gloves and fluid-resistant (Type IIR) surgical masks should be used in these situations. If there is a risk of splashing, then eye protection will minimise the risk.
New personal protective equipment must be used for each episode of care. It is essential that personal protective equipment is stored securely within disposable rubbish bags. These bags must be placed into another bag, tied securely and kept separate from other waste. They should be put aside for at least 72 hours before being put in the usual household waste bin.
For further information refer to the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Policy and Procedure at Forget Me Not Home Services Ltd.
If Care Workers undertake cleaning duties, then they must use usual household products, such as detergents and bleach as these will be very effective at getting rid of the virus on surfaces. Frequently touched surfaces must be cleaned regularly.
Personal waste (for example, used tissues, continence pads and other items soiled with bodily fluids) and disposable cleaning cloths can be stored securely within disposable rubbish bags. These bags must be placed into another bag, tied securely and kept separate from other waste. They should be put aside for at least 72 hours before being put in the usual household waste bin for disposal as normal.
If Care Workers support the Service User with laundry, then they must not shake dirty laundry before washing. This minimises the possibility of dispersing the virus through the air.
Wash items as appropriate, in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. Dirty laundry that has been in contact with an ill person can be washed with other people’s items. If the Service User does not have a washing machine, wait a further 72 hours after the 10-day isolation period has ended; the laundry can then be taken to a public laundromat. Items heavily soiled with body fluids, for example, vomit or diarrhoea, or items that cannot be washed, must be disposed of, with the owner’s consent, following the correct disposal procedures.
Actions if a Service User does not have symptoms but is part of a household that is isolating
If the Service User being cared for and their Care Worker can remain at a safe protected distance from the symptomatic member of the household, then Care can be provided without additional precaution. This would apply, for example, where the symptomatic family member can remain in their own room, is using separate bathroom facilities and is observing robust isolation procedures, staying 2 metres away from other family members. Guidance for those under household isolation can be found here.
Where this is not possible, and this will vary on a case-by-case basis, the same procedures should be adopted as if the Service User being cared for did have symptoms of COVID-19 (see above). Care should continue to be taken to limit contact with any household member that has symptoms. PPE procedures must also be followed as per the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Policy and Procedure at Forget Me Not Home Services Ltd.
Action if a Member of Staff Reports Symptoms
- Forget Me Not Home Services Ltd will ensure that the member of staff self-isolates for 10 days
- If the member of staff has no symptoms they can return to work on day 11
- Forget Me Not Home Services Ltd must contact Suffolk County Council and the local health protection team for advice including whether the premises need to close and other staff self-isolate
- Advice will be given to the member of staff if they need to self-isolate and what action will need to take place for any Service Users that they may have had contact with Forget Me Not Home Services Ltd must ensure that confidentiality is maintained and that records are held in line with Data Protection Act requirements
- Forget Me Not Home Services Ltd should follow their Sickness Absence Policy and Procedure and ensure that it follows government guidance which states that if an employee or worker has to self- isolate, they should receive any Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) due to them
- Forget Me Not Home Services Ltd will need to put into action the business continuity plan and liaise with Suffolk County Council and the CQC if there are concerns about staffing
- Follow the COVID-19 Swabbing Policy and Procedure at Forget Me Not Home Services Ltd and the Government’s advice on their website
If a staff member or Service User develops symptoms, they must continue to follow the rules to self- isolate with other members of their household and order a test to find out if they have coronavirus. For further information on testing refer to the Swabbing Policy and Procedure at Forget Me Not Home Services Ltd.
Where an individual tests positive for coronavirus, they must share information promptly about their recent contacts through the NHS test and trace service to help them alert other people who may need to self- isolate. If you have had close recent contact with someone who has coronavirus, you must self-isolate if the NHS test and trace service advises you to do so. You will be required to stay at home for 14 days. Staff and Service Users must inform Forget Me Not Home Services Ltd when they are contacted by the test and trace service. For further guidance on the test and trace service view here.
Isolation Notes Online
Isolation notes will provide employees of Forget Me Not Home Services Ltd with evidence for their employers that they have been advised to self-isolate due to coronavirus, either because they have symptoms or they live with someone who has symptoms, and so cannot work. As isolation notes can be obtained without contacting a doctor, this will reduce the pressure on GP surgeries and prevent people needing to leave their homes.
For the first seven days off work, employees can self-certify so they do not need any evidence for Forget Me Not Home Services Ltd. After that, Forget Me Not Home Services Ltd may ask for evidence of sickness absence. Where this is related to having symptoms of coronavirus or living with someone who has symptoms, the isolation note can be used to provide evidence of the advice to self-isolate.
Action if neither the Service User nor the Care Worker has symptoms of COVID-19
If neither the Care Worker nor the Service User receiving Care is symptomatic, then items of personal protective equipment will be dependent upon the tasks being carried out and as per the guidance. Face masks are recommended to be worn by Public Health England for visiting all Service Users regardless of whether they have symptoms or not.
General interventions may include increased cleaning activity and keeping the Service User’s property properly ventilated by opening windows whenever safe and appropriate.
Care Workers must follow advice on hand hygiene, as per the Infection Control Policy and Procedure at Forget Me Not Home Services Ltd.
Cleaning the Office and Workplace Where There are Confirmed Cases of COVID-19
Forget Me Not Home Services Ltd will follow Public Health England guidance on cleaning. Coronavirus symptoms are similar to a flu-like illness and include cough, fever, or shortness of breath and loss or change to your sense of smell or taste. Once symptomatic, all surfaces that the person has come into contact with must be cleaned including:
- All surfaces and objects which are visibly contaminated with body fluids
- All potentially contaminated high-contact areas such as toilets, door handles, telephones
- Clothing and linen used by the person should be set aside pending assessment of the person by a healthcare professional
Rubbish Disposal Including Tissues
- All waste that has been in contact with the individual with symptoms, including used tissues, continence pads and other items soiled with bodily fluids, must be put in a plastic rubbish bag and tied. These bags should be placed into another bag, tied securely and kept separate from other waste. This must be put aside for at least 72 hours before being disposed of as normal
Forget Me Not Home Services Ltd has effective procedures in place to allow staff to raise any concerns in relation to equipment, policies and processes for managing COVID-19 at the earliest opportunity. All staff must be aware of the Whistleblowing Policy and Procedure at Forget Me Not Home Services Ltd and be able to raise concerns without any fear and receive timely feedback on their concerns.
Working from Home
Where staff at Forget Me Not Home Services Ltd are able to work from home, and Forget Me Not Home Services Ltd has agreed to the arrangement, Forget Me Not Home Services Ltd has the following expectations:
- Staff can work independently and on their own initiative
- Staff are able to motivate themselves
- Complete agreed work within set deadlines
- Staff can manage their workload effectively
- Staff can cope well under any new pressure posed by working at home
- Staff will adopt healthy work from home practices which includes compliance with Health and Safety
- Staff will maintain contact with Forget Me Not Home Services Ltd and colleagues with whom they would usually interact with
- Confidentiality will be maintained in line with the Data Protection Act
- Any concerns will be raised immediately with Stevie Hambling
- Meeting with Service Users or external organisations will not take place with the employees at home unless teleconferencing facilities are used
Forget Me Not Home Services Ltd understands during the coronavirus outbreak, that where the employee’s role makes home working feasible, working from home will be supported. The decision to temporarily allow home working is not a contractual change.
Forget Me Not Home Services Ltd will investigate mechanisms to communicate effectively with staff who work from home. The free software made available by Microsoft, Teams, to support video conferencing and calls over wi-fi is an option that can be considered.
Working from Home – Health and Safety Considerations
Forget Me Not Home Services Ltd has a duty of care for all their employees, and the requirements of the health and safety legislation apply to homeworkers. Forget Me Not Home Services Ltd is responsible for carrying out a risk assessment to check whether the proposed home workplace’s ventilation, temperature, lighting, space, chair, desk and computer, or any kind of workstation, and floor are suitable for the tasks the homeworker will be carrying out.
Forget Me Not Home Services Ltd is responsible for the equipment it supplies, but it is the employee’s responsibility to rectify any flaws in the home highlighted by the assessment. Once the home workplace has passed the assessment, it is the employee who is responsible for keeping it that way. Forget Me Not Home Services Ltd will refer to the Home Working Policy and Procedure.
The impact of the coronavirus is far greater for people with underlying health conditions and who are elderly. Forget Me Not Home Services Ltd will monitor the changing situation. All Service Users should adhere to the government guidance on what we need to do in relation to the coronavirus pandemic, including in relation to visitors.
Forget Me Not Home Services Ltd will display information posters and advise anyone that is unwell to stay away. There should be no unnecessary visiting to the premises of Forget Me Not Home Services Ltd. Where there are visitors to the premises of Forget Me Not Home Services Ltd, names and contact phone numbers will be documented should contact tracing be required.
Where restrictions on visitors are made, Forget Me Not Home Services Ltd will ensure that risk assessments are in place, best interest decisions are recorded and the least restrictive options are taken and in human rights terms, this factors in the services and support supplied to Service Users by their visitors. Forget Me Not Home Services Ltd will review any Service User who have last powers of attorney in place and ensure that any advance decisions are recorded.
Shielding At Risk Groups
The Government advised on 21st March that those who are at increased risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19) must be shielded and protected. The full Public Health England guidance can be read here. Shielding is a measure to protect extremely vulnerable people by minimising interaction between those who are extremely vulnerable and others.
People falling into this extremely vulnerable group include:
- Solid organ transplant recipients
- People with specific cancers
- People with cancer who are undergoing active chemotherapy or radical radiotherapy for lung cancer
- People with cancers of the blood or bone marrow such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma who are at any stage of treatment
- People having immunotherapy or other continuing antibody treatments for cancer
- People having other targeted cancer treatments which can affect the immune system, such as protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors
- People who have had bone marrow or stem cell transplants in the last 6 months, or who are still taking immunosuppression drugs
- People with severe respiratory conditions including all those with cystic fibrosis, severe asthma and severe COPD
- People with rare diseases and inborn errors of metabolism that significantly increase the risk of infections (such as SCID, homozygous sickle cell)
- People on immunosuppression therapies sufficient to significantly increase the risk of infection
- Women who are pregnant with significant heart disease, congenital or acquired
From 1st August the guidance from the government confirmed that shielding has now been paused, with the rate of transmission of coronavirus in the community having significantly fallen. This means:
- You do not need to follow previous shielding advice
- You can go to work as long as the workplace is Covid-secure, but should carry on working from home wherever possible
- You can go outside as much as you like but you should still try to keep your overall social interactions low
- You can visit businesses, such as supermarkets, pubs and shops, while keeping 2 metres away from others wherever possible or 1 metre plus other precautions, where 2 metres is not possible
- You should continue to wash your hands carefully and more frequently than usual and that you maintain thorough cleaning of frequently touched areas in your home and/or workspace
- You will no longer receive free food parcels, medicine deliveries and basic care from the National Shielding Service
You will still be able to get:
- Local volunteer support by contacting your local authority
- Prescriptions, essential items and food you buy delivered by NHS Volunteer Responders
- Priority slots for supermarket deliveries (if you previously registered for free food parcels)
Those individuals who have been shielding still remain vulnerable and should continue to take precautions. Guidance will be regularly reviewed and if the transmission of COVID-19 increases, you may be asked to shield again. A secure ‘shielded patient list’ has been kept by NHS Digital, who will write to you if the advice changes.
In the event of a local lockdown you may be advised to stay at home and shield; the government will write to you.
Measures at Forget Me Not Home Services Ltd
While shielding has now been paused, Forget Me Not Home Services Ltd will still ensure that, where possible, measures continue to reduce a Service User’s risk of exposure to COVID-19. Forget Me Not Home Services Ltd may consider:
- Dividing the Service Users into ‘care groups’ and allocating staff subgroups to provide Care to each, or
- Dividing the workforce into two groups; one to support those that shielded and another to support ‘at- risk’ groups and everyone els
All options must be considered on a local basis by Forget Me Not Home Services Ltd and the Suffolk County Council or the local resilience forum contacted for further support where necessary.
Forget Me Not Home Services Ltd recognises that in some circumstances reducing the contact for shielded and at-risk Service User may also be considered. Where this is considered, Forget Me Not Home Services Ltd will work with other agencies involved in the health and wellbeing of Service Users, in order to develop a multi-agency plan to reduce the number of people going into the Service User’s home.
This may involve:
- Working with commissioners, including local authorities and CCGs to identify which Service Users theycare for are within the clinically extremely vulnerable (shielding) category, and identifying which other agencies are providing care and support
- Working with the Service Users identified as clinically extremely vulnerable (shielding), and at-risk groups to understand which other professionals they have contact with and confirm whether they have received advice to shield or practise social distancing respectively
Where a Service User’s Care is reduced consideration must be given to ensuring that they have access to essentials during this period.
Where it is not possible to allocate specific care groups to specific staff subgroups, it may be possible to schedule for vulnerable and at-risk Service Users to be seen before Service Users from other categories. Again, it is acknowledged that this may not be fully possible given that personal care tasks are often required at similar points in the day and Forget Me Not Home Services Ltd will consider this on a local basis.