As many corporate companies prepare for staff to work from home and put contingencies plans in place for a national major outbreak of Covid-19, Local Authorities are asking care home providers to consider their own plan. Within service lead industries including healthcare, it is highly unlikely that many staff will be able to work from home and reduce contact with others as far as possible. Yet many providers care for elderly and other clients with chronic pathology, which places them at greater risk of the most serious symptoms of the virus. Swift Management have been asked by many of it’s clients to assist in the process of contingency planning.
CQC have written to providers; the statement below is an extract-
We are writing to share an update on how we are responding to the outbreak of Covid-19, as well as how we plan to approach any future decisions as the situation develops.
We will always act in the best interests of people who use services – so while it’s appropriate to recognise the need for you to focus on delivering care, we will always balance this with our responsibility to check that the safety of service users is maintained.
This is a fast-moving situation which may involve us changing what we do and how we do it. We have, therefore, established three key principles that we will use to make sure services continue to be safe, whilst limiting the impact on you and our own colleagues.
- We will be focusing our activity where it is needed most to ensure people receive safe care – this means concentrating on those areas where we see that the risk to the quality of care is the highest and where we can make the biggest difference.
- We will support providers by looking at how we can act flexibly and proportionately to reduce the asks that we make of you – including reducing what you need to do to prepare for inspection and looking at what we can do to limit our need to be on site.
- We will honour our duty of care to our colleagues at CQC.
We will still be carrying out inspections, but inspection managers will be reviewing inspection plans on an ongoing basis to make sure our activity is aligned with the very latest position. Most inspections will continue as planned in the short term, we will keep the position under review and may decide to postpone an inspection, perhaps with relatively short notice. We will take a pragmatic and flexible approach to how and when we regulate as and when this situation develops, and we commit to continuing conversations with providers and their representative organisations.” (Ian Trenholm, Chief Executive Care Quality Commission March 2020)
To ensure that our clients are ready, we are assisting them to consider the situation, undertake a risk assessment and write a contingency plan.
We appreciate that every care provider has an infection control policy, we are encouraging them to ensure that staff have refreshed themselves on the policy including ensuring staff understand the importance of the correct techniques for handwashing.
When planning for a risk assessment consider:
Staff, Visitors, staffing levels, The Physical Environment and wider issues such as supply chains.
Visitors: Visitors should be advised not to visit the home if they are exhibiting flu like symptoms unless it is absolutely essential. They should be asked to use hand gels and wash hands on arrival and on leaving. In the event of an outbreak within a care home, Public Health England will advise on visiting controls.
Staff: Ensure staff have the knowledge to protect themselves and others from the risk of infection, that they are able to wash their hand effectively, and understand their duty to the residents, by either self-isolating, isolating residents and or excluding visitors who may be high risk. Staff should also have the confidence to ask visitors to use hand gels etc. Public Health England will be on hand to assist any care home which has an outbreak.
Staffing Levels: CQC is clear that standards of care must be maintained. Consider how you would maintain staffing levels in the event of an emergency, it is also important to consider that other healthcare organisations will be looking to fill gaps in staffing. So, consider carefully how this will be managed. Consider that you might need additional staff, from agencies, is it possible to bring staff from within the organisation or from another care home? What staff groups are absolutely essential, and could other staff help with some tasks if required? Encourage your staff to be flexible.
The Physical Environment: This is not complicated for most care homes as they have already considered infection control measures. Review the need for Alcohol Gel dispensers, clinical waste bins and soap and paper towel dispensers. Do you need more? Regularly check stock levels of both cleaning and clinical equipment, do you have sufficient stock levels as usual and some additional stock in case your supplier lets you down? Remember some people are stock piling and that means supplies may run out if you plan to order just in time, so please consider ordering early, but taking care not to stock pile.
Are there additional items that you want to keep in stock?
This is the opportunity to review the environment and perhaps put in place those items you have been meaning to put into place for ages.
The Supply Chain: At this stage it is hard to predict if the supply chain will be affected. Other than the issues we already know about such as difficulty in obtaining face masks, alcholol gels and toilet rolls, other items may become highly sought after. Consider what impact it would have if the supply chain which you rely upon breaks down due to their staff being ill or unable to deliver the supplies you normally order, do you have an alternative? Could you use local shops, do you have back up supplies.
Risk Assesments and action plans may be requested in the near future by contracting authorities so be prepared. Swift Management Services are happy to talk these plans through with you or indeed write them for you just contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org