In view of recent developments in old people’s homes, and in relation to the COVID-19 Pandemic, a new set of safety protocols have been launched after consultation with the Social Care Standards Authority, the Ministry for the Family, Children’s Rights and Social Solidarity, the Ministry for Health, the Parliamentary Secretariat for Active Ageing and Persons with Different Abilities.
These protocols determine that staff and residents are swabbed frequently, while temperature checks on the staff need to be carried out twice daily. Apart from this, all those working within these homes are being asked to be responsible in their private lives.
Members of staff are to wear masks or visors all the time, and proper hand hygiene needs to be in place always – with the necessary enforcement of these measures being properly seen to.
To protect these vulnerable members of our society and the employees, the influenza vaccine will be offered to all. The protocols also state that when the residents are swabbed, the management of the homes need to keep the relatives informed throughout the whole process.
Apart from this, new residents of the homes, coming from the community will be kept under quarantine for 14 days, while those residents returning from hospital after receiving any sort of treatment, will be kept under quarantine for 5 days. In the case of residents who would have outpatient appointments, they can return to the home with no need for quarantine, but the management of the home must ensure that it promptly detects any symptoms which the resident might have.
As to what regards visits, masks or visors must be worn while no physical contact is to happen, at all costs. The proper distance needs to be kept at all times, whilst relatives and the residents need to communicate via a perspex shield. Visitors are to sanitize their hands, before, and after the visit, whilst the visiting area is to be disinfected in between visits.
The homes are to equip themselves with the necessary technology to ensure that virtual communication can take place between the residents and their relatives – with a person specifically appointed to provide the proper training for the residents to be able to use this technology.
For relatives who bring food to their loved ones, the protocols state that this needs to be in a container which can be wiped before use, or in a sealed disposable container. The food is not to be given to the residents directly but to a designated member of staff.
As to what regards activities, the Social Care Standards Authority will ensure that these are organised regularly, but in a safe manner. Each member of staff is to wear a mask throughout the activity, with the proper hand hygiene in place too. If a visor is used, this is to be disinfected regularly.
The residents are to stick to their own group, or bubble, and cannot mix with other residents from other floors or halls.
The homes are to also identify an area which to be used by a hairdresser, with the proper social distancing measures in place. The hairdresser also needs to make use of all the required PPE to ensure the safety of the residents.
As of Sunday, the Social Care Standards Authority issued a circular informing the management of all the homes that residents are to leave the premises only for a medical appointment or if they need care at a hospital or health centre.