Covid-19 Policies

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Within 2 metres and carrying out direct personal care or domestic duties, these recommendations apply:

  • whenever you are within 2 metres of anyone (including the customer or household members) irrespective of whether they have COVID-19 symptoms or have tested positive
  • to all personal care, for example, assistance to use the toilet, changing dressings, and when unintended contact with customer is likely (for example, when caring for customers with challenging behaviour)
  • whatever your role in providing care (these recommendations therefore apply to all staff including care workers, managers and supervisors and cleaners, for example)
  • regarding eye protection, when you have risk assessed there is a risk of splashing of body fluids (including respiratory secretions) into the eye

PPE is only effective when combined with hand hygiene (cleaning your hands regularly and appropriately); respiratory hygiene and avoiding touching your face with your hands and following standard infection prevention and control precautions.

PPE Items When they should be used

Disposable Gloves (Vinyl or Nitrile)

Disposable gloves are single use. When worn correctly, single-use gloves protect you from contact with the customer’s body fluids and secretions. Single use means gloves must be changed between every contact with another person and while working with the same customer (for example after helping with using the bathroom). They should also be changed after using gloves for other activities, for example cleaning.

You must dispose of them immediately after completion of a procedure or task and after each person being cared for, and then wash your hands. You must take care not to touch your face, mouth or eyes when you are wearing gloves.

Disposable gloves may be worn for routine cleaning, however if chemicals are being used as part of a decontamination schedule a COSHH assessment must be carried out and the correct PPE worn.

The type of glove used should be based on a risk assessment of the task being carried out. There are a number of different types of gloves: vinyl, nitrile and natural rubber latex.

Vinyl gloves provide sufficient protection for most duties in the care environment, providing the gloves fit.

If there is a risk of gloves tearing, or the task requires a high level of dexterity, or requires an extended period of wear, then an alternative better fitting glove (for example, nitrile) should be considered.

If a change of gloves is required during a task because the glove is torn or punctured, then wash your hands thoroughly making sure they are completely dry before putting on new gloves.

Disposable Apron

Disposable plastic aprons are required. They are for single-use only and are worn to protect your clothing from contamination when providing direct care or if there is a risk of splashing.

You must wear disposable plastic aprons when providing personal care and when exposure to body fluids is likely.

Disposable plastic aprons are single use and you must dispose of them immediately after completion of a procedure or task and after each customer, and then wash your hands.

Type II R Fluid-repellent Surgical Mask

A fluid-repellent surgical mask (FRSM) is required. Fluid repellent surgical masks are Type IIR surgical masks and provide additional protection from respiratory droplets produced by clients (for example, when they cough or sneeze). Wearing a Type IIR surgical mask also protects clients by minimising the risk of you infecting them via secretions or droplets from your mouth, nose and lungs.

A fluid-repellent surgical mask must be single use and disposed of at the end of each homecare visit and a new fluid-repellent surgical mask applied when entering a different client’s house.

You should also remove and dispose of the mask if it becomes damaged, visibly soiled, damp, or uncomfortable to wear.

You should ensure that you have enough masks for the duration of your shift.

You should not touch your face mask unless it is to put on or remove it. Make sure the mask fits as snugly to the face as possible, this may include the need to adjust the face straps or ear loops. They should not be crossed over as this increases the gap on the cheeks. Consider trying a different mask if the fit is poor.

The mask is worn to protect you and to help to prevent you transmitting virus particles to others.

Face Shields

Eye protection can either be a face-shield (visor) or goggles. It may be designed for single use or designed to be used more than once if decontaminated correctly between uses.

Eye protection such as visors provide a barrier to protect your eyes from respiratory droplets (for example, produced by a customer with respiratory symptoms), and from splashing of secretions (for example, of body fluids or respiratory excretions). Eye protection should cover the eye or face completely so prescription spectacles are not sufficient. It should be used in conjunction with a fluid-repellent surgical mask and should not be worn instead of a mask.

Use of eye protection should be discussed with your manager and you should have access to eye protection while you are working. Personal prescription glasses are not a substitute for eye protection, you will need to wear a visor or googles as well.

If you are provided with goggles or a visor that is reusable, you should be given instructions on how to clean and disinfect and store them following the manufacturer’s instructions or local infection control policy.

As a minimum, between uses you should clean with a neutral detergent wipe, allow to dry, disinfect with a 70% alcohol wipe and leave to dry; or use a single step detergent and disinfectant wipe, allowing the item to dry afterwards. You should store in a bag or lidded box to avoid possible contamination after cleaning and disinfection is complete. If you are wearing both prescription glasses and goggles, both will need to be cleaned. For prescription glasses or spectacles, use the cleaning fluid or wipes that are normally used for spectacles as disinfectant may damage the coatings on the lenses.

Do not put eye protection on until it is completely dry. Cleaning of reusable PPE items that have been provided to you is your responsibility. Do not smoke and avoid contact with flames while wearing eye protection.

If eye protection is labelled as for single-use, it should be used for a single task, then it should be disposed of into the customer’s domestic waste stream.

Putting on and removing PPE

You need to put on and take off your PPE at least 2 metres away from the person you are visiting and anyone in the household with a cough. For more information, see the video on putting on and removing PPE.

You need to put a face mask on before you enter or immediately as you enter a client’s home or your work base. Your organisation will need to work out how best to do this in your work base. If you need to remove your face mask for whatever reason, ensure you do this 2 metres away from others (including clients, household members and other staff) and replace with a new face mask as soon as practical.

Cleaning your uniform or work clothes

Regardless of wearing PPE, uniforms should be laundered:

  • separately from other household items
  • at the maximum temperature the fabric can tolerate, then tumble dried and/or ironed

If you do not wear a uniform, you should change your clothing immediately when you get home and launder clothing used for work as described for uniforms above. This does not need to apply to underclothes unless there was contamination from the client’s body fluid (for example, vomit, or fluids have soaked through external clothing). If you wear prescription glasses or spectacles, clean them using the cleaning fluid or wipes that are normally used for spectacles.