March 25, 2020
ANNE SMITH identifies key areas of concern as care home operators look to meet the challenges of coping with COVID-19
It is difficult not to be panicked by the arrival of the coronavirus in the UK, given the widespread media coverage and recently announced measures on isolation.
Particularly concerning for the care sector is the higher mortality rate within the elderly population and those with underlying long-term conditions. However, there is currently a window of opportunity for effective planning whilst there is emphasis on slowing down the rate of spread. A good pandemic coronavirus plan offers the opportunity to ensure the best outcomes for the older people in our care, for our staff and for our businesses as a whole.
Central to this must be training. Immediate training in ensuring faultless handwashing and cleaning, effective use of personal protection equipment (PPE) and barrier nursing, as well as keeping up-to-date with DOHSC guidance must the corner stones of risk management. Accessible policies to support this training will be helpful as well as an up-to-date business continuity plan, and clarity on the company’s sickness management policy and how to support at risk workers.
Manpower planning will need to be a key consideration including drawing up contingency plans for staff shortages. Providers should ensure they have up-to-date contact details of all staff and relatives. Mocking-up rosters to eliminate staff movement between homes and floors will help reduce the spread of the virus as will removing any face-to-face contact between different shifts. Larger care providers may wish to consider stopping meetings between senior management and ensure deputies for all key functions, particularly the key pandemic management co-ordinator role.
Ensuring sufficient supplies is already a priority with panic buying evident among the public but care providers must ensure sufficient medicines for service users, PPE for staff, waste management products, and additional long-life foods in case of disruption in food supplies. Best planning will without a doubt ensure best outcomes for all, whatever this might be.
- Anne Smith is a senior nurse and management consultant, skilled in quality and commercial improvements in health & social care. Brilliant Care Solutions firstname.lastname@example.org