COVID-19: guidance issued for adult social care sector

Advice includes making greater use of internet, protective clothing and what to do when people show symptoms

Picture shows a woman cleaning an area below a notice board. Advice for the adult social care sector includes making greater use of the Internet, protective clothing and what to do when people show symptoms.
Picture: Charles Milligan

Guidance to help the adult social care sector prepare for an increase in cases of COVID-19 advises making more use of online tools to keep in touch with GPs, acute care staff and community health teams.

Public Health England (PHE) issued COVID-19: Residential Care, Supported Living and Home Care Guidance on 13 March for providers of nursing homes, residential care, and the delivery of home care and supported living.

It says anyone working in the social care sector concerned they have COVID-19 must follow the latest NHS advice, and staff who are advised to self-isolate should not visit or care for individuals until it is safe to do so.

The PHE guidance recommends the following if nursing or care home residents have symptoms of COVID-19:

  • The provider should operate in the same way as with a flu outbreak.
  • Their rooms can be used for isolation. Ideally it should be a single room with en suite facilities.
  • Staff should wear personal protective equipment (PPE) and new PPE must be worn when each resident is being cared for.
  • Frequent cleaning should occur.

How do home care staff access personal protective equipment?

Staff delivering home care should wear PPE each time they care for a new person if symptoms of COVID-19 are present.

But Anita Astle, managing director of Wren Hall nursing home near Nottingham, said she had not been told how to access the PPE recommended in the guidance.

‘If they are waiting until we have got a known case in the home that is going to be too late, because our staff haven’t got any protection,’ she told Nursing Standard.

In response, a Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said care providers had been due to start receiving face masks from 18 March.

The spokesperson said: ‘We are working rapidly with wholesalers to ensure a longer-term supply of all personal protective equipment, including gloves, aprons, face masks and hand sanitiser.’

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Public Health England – COVID-19: residential care, supported living and home care guidance

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