Safe-guarding neuro occupational therapy provision during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Royal College of Occupational Therapists (RCOT) has advised all members to adhere to the latest UK Government advice regarding coronavirus (COVID-19).
The advice is changing hourly as the virus continues to spread.
But here’s a round-up of those guidelines – as of 18 March 2020 - pertaining to working in community and home-based supported living settings.
- Ensure you stay aware of the latest updates on the COVID-19 outbreaks.More here: Gov.uk - Government response to Covid 19
- Keep an eye on the UK Government’s dedicated site for health professionals.More here: NHS - Corona Virus Response
- Ensure information is being shared with your employer and other MDT members. More here: Gov.uk - Covid19 List of guidance
- Explore COVID-19 awareness with, if appropriate, your client and their family and share current advice.
All health professionals should be stringently following the advice on hand hygiene.
A visual guide to the necessary steps involved is available here:
- Recent onset ofa new, continuous cough and/or high temperature are the most common symptoms.
- If you have these symptoms, however mild, stay at home and do not leave your house for 7 days from when your symptoms started.
- If you live with other people, they should stay at home for 14 days from the day the first person got symptoms
- If you live with someone who is 70 or over, has a long-term condition, is pregnant or has a weakened immune system, try to find somewhere else for them to stay for 14 days.
- If you have to stay at home together, try to keep away from each other as much as possible.
- If your symptoms worsen during home isolation or are no better after 7 days, contact NHS 111 online or call NHS 111. For a medical emergency dial 999.
If you suspect you, your client or another member of the care team has symptoms of COVID-19, immediately alert your employer and follow current NHS advice, here: https://www.england.nhs.uk/coronavirus/
Anyone advised to self-isolate at home should follow ‘COVID-19: stay at home guidance’, here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance/stay-at-home-guidance-for-people-with-confirmed-or-possible-coronavirus-covid-19-infection.
If you are advised to self-isolate at home, do not visit or care for individuals until it is safe to do so, and notify your employer.
If neither you nor your client is symptomatic, no additional precautions are needed other than normal good hygiene practices.
However, while the coronavirus outbreak is on-going, ensure increased cleaning activity is being maintained using bleach and/or detergentsand that properties are being kept properly ventilated.
- Wash your hands regularly for 20 seconds using soap and hot water, particularly after coughing, sneezing and blowing your nose
- Wash your hand regularly after being in public areas where other people are coughing, sneezing or blowing their noses. Use hand sanitiser if that’s all you have access to.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue away immediately and wash your hands or use a hand sanitising gel.
- Regularly clean and disinfect regularly touched objects and surfaces using your regular cleaning products.
Maintaining service provision
- Review your list of clients, ensure information is current, and check how much informal support they have.
- Consider how you might share this information electronically and lawfully should the need arise.
- If you have concerns, contact your employer or refer to further Government guidelines for employers and businesses here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-employees-employers-and-businesses
Personal protective equipment
If clients are symptomatic, healthcare practitionerscurrently are being advised to wear personal protective equipment to minimize the risk of transmission in all duties involving close personal contact with those clients.
Close personal contact is defined as duties relating to washing and bathing, personal hygiene and contact with bodily fluids.
Personal protective equipmentincludes:
- Fluid repellent surgical masks.
- Eye protection if there is a risk of splashing.
According to current Government advice, “it is likely that older people and those with chronic medical conditions may be vulnerable to severe disease.”