Our Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

We want to ensure that all our employees, customers and clients remain as safe as possible during the Covid-19 pandemic and in order to achieve this, we have introduced a number of protocols and procedures alongside our everyday duties which are being regularly adapted and updated as the pandemic situation changes.

Our services
Carer and client laughing

What are we doing to limit the spread of COVID-19 and keep our staff, clients and customers safe?

We review and monitor the evolving situation with the pandemic regularly and adapt accordingly. The safety and wellbeing of our employees and customers is of paramount importance to us.  The information provided below provides a breakdown of some of the key steps we have taken to date in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Keeping our clients safe
In line with our Business Continuity Plan we regularly review our services based on the needs of our clients and the capacity of our care workforce.  We take a risk-based approach to this to ensure that we strike the right balance. Decisions about reallocating visits and tasks, or reducing visits, are made with due consideration of the wishes and feelings of the person receiving care and their families where appropriate, in line with a person-centred care approach.

We work in partnership and transparently with Local Authorities, commissioners, the sector regulator Care Quality Commission (CQC) and other partner agencies to balance decisions made. We follow the Department of Health and Social Care guidance on providing home care.  We are equipped with NHS email addresses to allow remote, secure sharing of information relating to care between agencies.
To provide additional support to our Registered Managers we have enhanced our governance structure through regular senior management support.

We have introduced regular well-being calls to clients and families where appropriate.  Additionally these provide ongoing useful information on any changes in circumstances that we should be aware of.

All of our care team have been appropriately informed and trained in Infection Prevention and Control guidelines and best practices – we regularly refresh this information to ensure it remains relevant.  

We hold a large stock of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) at all times to ensure our care workers are well equipped to deliver care safely.  Our PPE stock is monitored weekly, and we have accumulated a back-up store of PPE to cover us in the event of supply chains being unable to deliver, as was the case during the first lockdown.

Whenever possible, the same care workers visit the same client group, meaning higher continuity of care and lower risk of cross infection.  This is monitored daily. We ask our clients to have ready access to allow the care worker(s) visiting them to wash their hands in their home with soap and warm water and clean towels to dry their hands. 

Reporting symptoms of COVID-19
For those customers that we have registered on our Birdie Care Planning system, we have a facility to report in real-time anyone that is displaying COVID-19 symptoms, in order for us to immediately take appropriate action to maintain their safety and that of the people involved in their support.

For those customers not yet registered on the Birdie Care Planning system, our care workers are instructed to contact their immediate line manager via telephone to report any customers with potential symptoms of COVID-19, again, in order for appropriate safety measures to be implemented.

Any care worker that identifies with any COVID-19 symptoms, or who has been in contact within the past 48 hours (without PPE) with someone who goes on to become symptomatic is asked to immediately self-isolate, contact NHS Track and Trace and have a COVID-19 test. They are only allowed to return to work after receiving a negative test result, (however they are unable to retest for 90 days after a positive COVID-19 test as fragments of the virus may remain) or after NHS Track and Trace have permitted them to end self-isolation. All of our care team are paid for any periods of self-isolation. 

Our workplaces
All offices have implemented a working-from-home plan to minimise the working capacity in the office environment. These plans cater for the needs and safety of the service, as well as the personal circumstances of individuals. Where an employee can work from home they are provided with their own equipment, such as laptops and phones, to minimise sharing.  Working from home risk assessments are conducted regularly so that employees have an opportunity to raise concerns should their circumstances change. Where working from home may compromise the safety of the service, our management team keep the number of individuals in the office to a minimum and rotas the same people to work together in “bubbles”, respecting effective cleaning, handwashing and hygiene procedures; remaining two metres apart.  

Staff are asked to work side-by-side or facing away from each other rather than face-to-face whenever possible. Where this is not possible, protective screens have been installed.

Regular communication with all office team members and the care team is undertaken to continually check and monitor their well-being. Workplace risk assessments are conducted and reviewed regularly, in line with guidelines and best practices. 

Office Cleanliness and Hygiene
We have an hourly cleaning schedule, where all regularly used “touch-points” are cleaned and sanitised. This includes door handles, light switches, hand-rails, kitchen appliances and work surfaces, toilet flush handles, taps etc. A full clean of the entire office is completed daily, with a deep clean fortnightly. We ask all of our staff not to share cups, cutlery or crockery without thorough cleaning first. Although toilets and lavatories are cleaned regularly we ask all of our staff to use the provided disinfectant before and after use, and to also clean and disinfect their own work-stations on a daily basis. No sharing of workstations or computer equipment is permitted, without full sanitisation having been completed first.

Hand washing facilities and hand sanitisers are widely available throughout our offices.

Upon entry to the office in the morning, each staff member is required to have their temperature checked and recorded, and the same applies to any visitors during the day. Anyone displaying a high temperature (37.7 degrees Centigrade or above) is asked to leave the premises, return home and call 111 for advice.

Visitors are restricted to one person in reception at a time, and we insist that face-coverings are worn in all communal areas of our buildings.

The safety of our care staff
Additional training has been provided to our care workers in areas such as donning and doffing PPE. Further reference and guidance is available from Public Health England, including helpful videos on the donning and doffing procedures.

Our stock reserve of PPE has been substantially increased, and consists of gloves, aprons, masks, shields, arm covers, gowns and hand sanitiser. We ask all of our care workers to alert us with plenty of notice ,ideally more than a few days, when they are approaching low quantity of PPE in order for us to prepare stock for them to minimise time spend in the office.  

Staff have also been instructed of the correct procedure to follow if they are showing any symptoms of COVID-19, and how to apply for a test. We support care workers to book the necessary test when required.  To find out more about testing and the NHS Test & Trace programme please follow the Guidance from the Department of Health and Social Care.

Our care workers are required to follow the PPE Guidance issued by Public Health England. Additionally we ask all care staff to wash their uniform daily to minimise the risk of cross infection and clean their smartphone after every visit.  

The use of hand sanitisers as well as effective handwashing should occur at a minimum before starting a visit and at the end of the visit.

In addition to the regular communication with our care workers to check on their well-being, all staff are members of our Employee Assistance Programme. All employees have access to a confidential 24-hour telephone counselling service to discuss any worries or concerns about the pandemic.

We recognise the risk of over-working, and therefore prompt our care staff to book holiday leave, rest and time off.  We monitor our care worker capacity daily so that we can manage risk promptly.

Infection control procedures
We have informed staff that 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,
Following standard infection prevention and control precautions

They have been reminded that they must perform hand hygiene immediately before every instance of care delivery and after any activity or contact that potentially results in hands becoming contaminated. This includes the removal of PPE, equipment decontamination and waste handling.

They are also reminded not to wear nail varnish or falsenails, keep their nails short and use moisturiser after hand washing to keep the skin on their hands intact. More information on this is outlined in the WHO Five moments for Hand Hygiene guidance.

If staff do not have suitable facilities for cleaning hands in a client’s home, they are advised to carry hand sanitiser (provided) or cleaning wipes to make sure they can clean their hands when they need to. They are advised to avoid touching their mouth, nose and eyes during and between support-led tasks and to practice effective hand hygiene both before and after eating or drinking.  PPE should be used and disposed of appropriately. 

Car sharing 
We advise that our staff avoid car sharing unless absolutely necessary. If this is unavoidable we advise they share with the same individual only, keep windows open to aid ventilation, and wear face-masks.

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We are regulated by the Care Quality Commission which is the independent regulator of health and care in England.
Derbyshire Care Services is a trading name of Key 2 Care Limited,  a company registered in England and Wales.