The Australian Government Department of Health has released an updated COVIDSafe Guide for Home Care Providers to help companies like us implement infection control best-practice measures throughout our network.
The Guide refers to the direct care workforce, which includes disability support workers, aged care workers, personal care workers, nurses, administration and support staff and allied health professionals. The Guide includes provisions for infection control and the use of personal protective equipment or PPE. It is encouraged that staff complete the online training module to understand how COVID-19 is transmitted. Right at Home has mandated this training for all staff.
The following is taken from the Guide.
When caring for consumers with undiagnosed respiratory infections and other symptoms that could be COVID-19 (a fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, headache, loss of smell, loss of taste, runny nose, muscle pain, joint pain, diarrhoea, nausea/ vomiting, loss of appetite), staff should use standard, contact and droplet-based precautions. Standard precautions are infection prevention practices always used in health and care settings.
The precautions are to:
Contact and droplet precautions are additional precautions required when caring for consumers with suspected or confirmed COVID-19, with any respiratory illness or with other symptoms that could be COVID-19. Contact and droplet precautions include donning (putting on) gloves, surgical masks, and gowns and may include protective eyewear.
If PPE is required, then staff must use new PPE for each episode of personal care:
* Eye protection may be re-used if appropriately cleaned between uses.
All staff must perform hand hygiene before and after every contact with a consumer. Staff are strongly advised to view the PPE training videos at health.gov.au
Putting on and removing PPE:
Staff should don (put on) the PPE before they enter the home. Hand hygiene should always be performed before donning PPE.
PPE should be removed (doffed) in a way that prevents contamination of the staff member’s clothing, hands and the environment. The staff member should hygiene their hands between removal (doffing) of each item of PPE, and after all PPE is removed.
Information, including videos, on using PPE is available at www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert/coronavirus-covid-19-advice-for-the-health-and-aged-care-sector/providing-aged-care-services-during-covid-19#how-to-stop-the-spread
These tools are suitable for disability care providers to utilise as well. More tools for disability services are being developed.
Gloves, gowns and masks must be disposed of in an infectious (biohazard) waste bag. Alternatively, used PPE may be ‘double bagged’ - placed in disposable rubbish bags, which is then placed in another bag, tied securely and disposed of with other waste. Hands should be hygienic (washed or sanitised) between touching each bag.
Some medical treatments, which consumers may use at home, increase the risk of the virus being spread into the air within parts of the client’s home. The two that might be most commonly used in the community are nebulisers and CPAP machines.
Nebulisers should not be used during the COVID-19 outbreak. A nebuliser is used to transfer medicine into a mist for a person to breathe in. It creates aerosols that could potentially spread viruses into the air. A spacer that holds inhalant material such as Ventolin is a suitable alternative. The consumer may need to speak to their treating doctor about this.
If a client uses CPAP, try to ensure that any visit occurs at least one hour after the CPAP was switched off to allow some aerosols to dissipate. If this is not possible then try to see the client in another room, with the door of the room where CPAP is used staying closed while the worker is in the client’s home. If you cannot avoid visiting the client while they are actively using CPAP staff should use PPE which includes a face fit tested P2 mask.
If staff undertake cleaning duties, they should use usual household products. Frequently touched surfaces should be cleaned with detergent or a detergent/disinfectant wipe several times a day, and also if visibly dirty or soiled.
Cleaning is an essential part of disinfection. Cleaning reduces the soil load, allowing the disinfectant to work. Removal of germs such as the virus that causes COVID-19 requires thorough cleaning followed by disinfection. This can be done by a 2-in-1 clean - a physical clean using a combined detergent and TGA-listed hospital-grade disinfectant with activity against viruses (according to label/product information) i.e. a combined detergent/disinfectant wipe or solution. A 2-step clean requires physical cleaning with detergent, followed by disinfection with a chlorine-based product such as bleach. The bleach will not kill the virus if the surface has not been cleaned with a detergent first.
Personal waste (for example, used tissues, continence pads, other items soiled with bodily fluids and used PPE) and disposable cleaning cloths should be disposed of in an infectious (biohazard) waste bag. Alternatively, they may be stored in disposable rubbish bags. These bags should be placed into another bag, tied securely and disposed of with other waste. Hands should be washed hygienically between touching each bag.
If staff support a person with laundry, they should not shake dirty laundry before washing. This minimises the possibility of dispersing the virus through the air. Wash items using hot water in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. Dirty laundry that has been in contact with an ill person can be washed with other laundry. If laundry is heavily soiled (for example, with vomit or diarrhoea), or cannot be washed, dispose of the items after getting permission from the consumer. Clean and disinfect clothes hampers or baskets that held dirty clothes.
Right at Home is committed to maintaining the highest infection control standards so that we can protect our staff, our clients, and our community.
For those of you who are primary/informal caregivers, it is incredibly important to take the Department of Health’s advice and safety guidelines seriously. If you or someone you know needs advice or care, contact us today on 1300 363 802.
For those of you who are our clients, be reassured that ouur wonderful Carers continue to go above and beyond, to rise to the challenges, and to ensure we maintain the very high standards of care you have rightly come to expect from a Right at Home office.
You will no doubt have seen your local government’s latest instruction on staying at home and isolating to a much greater extent where required. Social distancing, self-isolation, personal hygiene and frequent hand washing are still the best protection from the virus.
Please be assured that the latest measures set out be your local state government will not prevent your Carer from being able to continue travelling and providing your care. Our care workers have been designated as an essential service which means the authorities recognise their critical status in continuing to provide care for those in need.
As always, your health and wellbeing is our primary concern and, as such, Right at Home is following government guidance in full. For clarity and peace of mind you can be assured that our Carers will be taking precautionary measures by using enhanced personal protective equipment (PPE) where required, which includes a facemask, to minimise the risk to themselves and their Clients.
Keep up to date with COVID 19 information on the following links:
Founded in 1995, Right at Home offers in-home companionship and personal care, and assistance to seniors (elderly and aged care), and any adult who needs our care at home including adults living with a disability who want to continue to live independently or age in their home. Right at Home is your local expert for issues related to caring for your loved ones and is dedicated to keeping you informed about home care. With no admin or subscription fees Right at Home allows you to get more care from your package or budget.
Right at Home is a 'My Aged Care' government-approved, home care provider for levels 1-4 and offers flexible in-home care services such as nursing care, after hospital care, post-operative care, respite care, dementia and Alzheimer's care. Right at Home also offers assistance with daily living and personal care such as grooming, hygiene, transport, shopping, meal prep, domestic services and social support, so your loved one can enjoy a more independent, vibrant life. Our nurses and caregivers are screened, highly trained, and insured prior to entering your home so you can trust us with the caregiving while you focus on your loved one.
To find out more, please give us a call on 1300 363 802 or visit our website.
Right at Home Offices in Australia: Sydney Lower North Shore; Sydney Upper North Shore; Sydney Central and Eastern Suburbs; Sydney Northern Beaches; Sydney Norwest; Sydney The Hills; Padstow St George; Macarthur Penrith; Newcastle; Hunter & Port Stephens; Southern NSW; Toowoomba- Darling Downs; Sunshine Coast and Gympie; Mackay; Central Queensland; Townsville; Far North Queensland; Gold Coast South; Gold Coast North; Northern Rivers; Brisbane Bayside; Brisbane South; Brisbane North; Brisbane West; Perth Midland; Perth Northern Suburbs; Perth West Coast: Kalgoorlie Wheatbelt; Moreton Bay Region; Sydney Inner West; Sydney Ryde; Greater Logan