Specific actions for social and community care staff visiting patients at home or providing care to residents

People returning from some areas of the world are being told to self-isolate depending on the location they have visited and their symptoms. People who have been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 are also being advised by their local Health Protection Team to self-isolate. People who are self-isolating and have no symptoms do not pose a risk to others. They are self-isolating to allow closer monitoring in order to identify early symptoms, and to enable prompt medical action if required.

Social, community and residential care staff should ascertain if a person is in self-isolation and if they are asymptomatic or symptomatic prior to their visit. If they are self -isolating and a visit is deemed necessary, then a full risk assessment should be undertaken with managers and infection control specialist to decide the best course of action.

If during a telephone consultation with a patient or their representative to assess their suitability for a domiciliary visit, it is thought that COVID-19 is possible (based on the PHE criteria for a possible case), then a face-to-face assessment must be avoided. Instead, call NHS 111 and arrange for a clinical assessment to be made before proceeding.

If the person is asymptomatic

As the person is asymptomatic there is no need to change your approach.

If the person is symptomatic

  • avoid any further physical contact with the person, if you can. The person should remain in the room with the door closed. Belongings and waste with which they have come into contact should remain in the room
  • advise anyone with you not to enter the room. If a travel or clinical history still needs to be obtained or completed, do this by telephoning the patient in the room
  • ask the patient or their representative to call NHS 111 from their room
  • inform your manager so that a full risk assessment can be undertaken with an infection control specialist to decide the next course of action

If the patient requires urgent medical attention

If the patient is critically ill and requires an urgent medical attention or ambulance transfer to a hospital, inform the ambulance call handler of the potential links to COVID-19.

Following the patient transfer to hospital, the room should be closed and should not be used until further advice is provided by the local Health Protection Team.

If the person has a negative COVID-19 test

If after assessment the person has a negative test, then no further action is required.

If the person has a positive COVID-19 test

If after assessment the person has a positive test, then a contact tracing exercise will be undertaken by the local Health Protection Team. You will be advised on any further actions, depending on your recent exposure to the patient.

What social, community and residential care settings need to do now

If any of your staff do become infected through travel to affected countries you will be contacted by your local Health Protection Team to take you through a risk assessment for your particular setting.

You may find it helpful to know about your local health protection team in advance of any outbreak of disease.

Health Protection Teams are part of Public Health England and will provide advice and guidance on infectious disease and non-infectious environmental hazards, manage and control outbreaks of infectious disease in the community and are a source of expert advice on new infections.

Your local public health team is led by your Director of Public Health. They will link closely with the Director of Adult Social Services in working with partners locally to respond to any cases of this infection.

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