Staying Covid-19 secure in 2020
In order to protect our clients and providers, we have carried out a Covid-19 risk assessment and defined appropriate steps to make work as safe as possible. This is fully in line with the government’s guidance on managing the risk of Covid-19. These recommendations will be updated regularly in line with government and health safety research updates.
Based on our risk assessment, the key risks related to our activities are related to provider commute to work, physical interactions between providers and clients, and provider contact with objects at client’s homes. We process payments and handle documentation only electronically, which aligns to recommended practices.
Please observe the key objectives and recommended procedures below to ensure safe work conditions for all:
Everyone should work from home, unless they cannot work from home
Our core team continues working from home and we are monitoring their wellbeing, including their welfare, mental and physical, health and personal security.
Providers necessarily commute and deliver services at client’s homes and offices. Therefore, this guidance reflects our recommended procedures to ensure safe conditions.
Clients are encouraged to plan for the minimum number of people needed to be present when services are being delivered.
Maintain 2m social distancing wherever possible
We encourage all the mitigating actions possible to reduce the risk of transmission during work, including:
- Further increasing the frequency of hand washing and surface cleaning
- Keeping the activity time involved as short as possible
- Reducing the number of people each person has contact with
This includes while arriving at and departing from work, while in work and when travelling between sites
Maintain social distancing on arrival and departure
In particular, pay attention to arrival and departure:
- Ensure handwashing upon arrival
- Do not greet people by hand shaking or hugging
- Mind any narrow corridors or passages that do not allow distancing
Maintain social distancing while travelling to work
Where possible, avoid:
- Public transport. Preferably commute by foot, bicycle or other individual means of transportation
- Non-essential trips, even when not at work
- Taking the lift with other people and touching lift commands with bare hands
- Touching traffic light buttons and door bells with bare hands
Where possible prefer to bring food from home
Reduce transmission due to face-to-face chats
Maintain 2m distancing when talking to someone
Avoid sharing pens and other handled objects
Maintain social distancing while using common areas
Keep areas ventilated and where possible open windows and doors frequently
Where possible, utilise hand sanitiser
Keep the space clean and prevent transmission caused by touching contaminated surfaces
Prioritise cleaning of objects and surfaces that are touched regularly, such as door handles
Remove waste and keep surfaces clean
If you are cleaning after a known or suspected case of Covid-19 then you should refer to the section ‘Cleaning in non-healthcare settings after a known or suspected case of Covid-19’ below
Keep good hygiene through the working day
Avoid handling objects from outside, such as deliveries and purchased items. Where possible, wash with soap and warm water before using.
Where possible, ask delivery carriers to leave delivery packages by the door for collection
Where possible, make payments with contactless card
Prioritise safety during incidents
In an emergency, for example, an accident or fire, people do not have to stay 2m apart if it would be unsafe.
Protect clinically vulnerable and clinically extremely vulnerable individuals
Clinically extremely vulnerable individuals are strongly advised not to work outside the home, and not to be in contact with providers.
Clinically vulnerable individuals, who are at higher risk of severe illness (for example, people with some pre-existing conditions), are asked to take extra care in observing social distancing. They should maintain 2m away from others in all occasions.
Protect people who need to self-isolate
People who need to self-isolate must stay at home under existing government guidance. This includes individuals who have symptoms of Covid-19 as well as those who live in a household with someone who has symptoms
Treat everyone equally
Take into account the particular circumstances of those with different protected characteristics. If you or someone you have relationship with have any special requirements, please let us know and allow reasonable adjustments to avoid putting anyone at disadvantage. These steps should not have an unjustifiable negative impact on some groups compared to others.
Use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and face coverings
The government guidance is that there is no need to use precautionary extra PPE to protect against Covid-19 outside clinical settings or when responding to a suspected or confirmed case of Covid-19. Unless you are in a situation where the risk of Covid-19 transmission is very high, the government understanding is that the role of PPE in providing additional protection is extremely limited.
There are some circumstances when wearing a face covering may be marginally beneficial as a precautionary measure. The evidence suggests that wearing a face covering does not protect you, but it may protect others if you are infected but have not developed symptoms.
A face covering may be worn in enclosed spaces where social distancing is not possible, to cover your mouth and nose. It is important to know that the evidence of the benefit of using a face covering to protect others is weak and the effect is likely to be small, therefore face coverings are not a replacement for the other ways of managing risk, including minimising time spent in contact.
Therefore, wearing a face covering is optional and is not required by law, including in the workplace. If you choose to wear one, it is important to use face coverings properly and wash your hands before putting them on and taking them off. You should be prepared to remove your face covering if asked to do so by police officers and staff for the purposes of identification.
If you chose to wear face covering:
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser before putting a face covering on, and after removing it.
- When wearing a face covering, avoid touching your face or face covering, as you could contaminate them with germs from your hands.
- Change your face covering if it becomes damp or if you’ve touched it.
- Continue to wash your hands regularly.
- Change and wash your face covering daily.
- If the material is washable, wash in line with manufacturer’s instructions. If it’s not washable, dispose of it carefully in your usual waste.
- Practice social distancing wherever possible
Cleaning in non-healthcare settings after a known or suspected case of Covid-19
The infection risk from Covid-19 following contamination of the environment decreases over time. It is not yet clear at what point there is no risk, however, studies of other viruses in the same family suggest that, in most circumstances, the risk is likely to be reduced significantly after 72 hours.
Please consider the following:
- Cleaning an area with normal household disinfectant after someone with suspected Covid-19 has left will reduce the risk of passing the infection on to other people
- Wear disposable or washing-up gloves and aprons for cleaning. These should be double-bagged, then stored securely for 72 hours then thrown away in the regular rubbish after cleaning is finished
- Using a disposable cloth, first clean hard surfaces with warm soapy water. Then disinfect these surfaces with the cleaning products you normally use. Pay particular attention to frequently touched areas and surfaces, such as bathrooms, grab-rails in corridors and stairwells and door handles
- If an area has been heavily contaminated, such as with visible bodily fluids, from a person with Covid-19, use protection for the eyes, mouth and nose, as well as wearing gloves and an apron
- Wash hands regularly with soap and water for 20 seconds, and after removing gloves, aprons and other protection used while cleaning
The minimum PPE to be worn for cleaning an area where a person with possible or confirmed Covid-19 is disposable gloves and an apron. Hands should be washed with soap and water for 20 seconds after all PPE has been removed. If there is indication of higher level of virus may be present or there is visible contamination with body fluids, then the need for additional PPE to protect the cleaner’s eyes, mouth and nose might be necessary.
Public areas where a symptomatic individual has passed through and spent minimal time, such as corridors, but which are not visibly contaminated with body fluids can be cleaned thoroughly as normal.
All surfaces that the symptomatic person has come into contact with must be cleaned and disinfected, including:
- Objects which are visibly contaminated with body fluids
- All potentially contaminated high-contact areas such as bathrooms, door handles, telephones, grab-rails in corridors and stairwells
Use disposable cloths or paper roll and disposable mop heads, to clean all hard surfaces, floors, chairs, door handles and sanitary fittings, following one of the options below:
- Use either a combined detergent disinfectant solution at a dilution of 1,000 parts per million available chlorine
- A household detergent followed by disinfection (1000 ppm av.cl.). Follow manufacturer’s instructions for dilution, application and contact times for all detergents and disinfectants
- If an alternative disinfectant is used, this should be checked and ensure that it is effective against enveloped viruses
Avoid creating splashes and spray when cleaning.
Any cloths and mop heads used must be disposed of and should be put into waste bags as outlined below.
When items cannot be cleaned using detergents or laundered, for example, upholstered furniture and mattresses, steam cleaning should be used.
Any items that are heavily contaminated with body fluids and cannot be cleaned by washing should be disposed of.
Wash items in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. Use the warmest water setting and dry items completely. Dirty laundry that has been in contact with an unwell person can be washed with other people’s items.
Do not shake dirty laundry, this minimises the possibility of dispersing virus through the air.
Clean and disinfect anything used for transporting laundry with your usual products, in line with the cleaning guidance above.
Waste from possible cases and cleaning of areas where possible cases have been (including disposable cloths and tissues):
- Should be put in a plastic rubbish bag and tied when full.
- The plastic bag should then be placed in a second bin bag and tied.
- It should be put in a suitable and secure place and marked for storage until the individual’s test results are known.
Waste should be stored safely and kept away from children. You should not put your waste in communal waste areas until negative test results are known or the waste has been stored for at least 72 hours.
- If the individual tests negative, this can be put in with the normal waste
- If the individual tests positive, then store it for at least 72 hours and put in with the normal waste
If storage for at least 72 hours is not appropriate, arrange for collection as a Category B infectious waste either by your local waste collection authority if they currently collect your waste or otherwise by a specialist clinical waste contractor. They will supply you with orange clinical waste bags for you to place your bags into so the waste can be sent for appropriate treatment.
For more information, check the Government website.
As a platform, we do not control the practices adopted by our independent providers and clients. Nevertheless, we strongly encourage following this guidance as minimum standards. In case of unsafe practices being identified we will review the case and take the appropriate measures, which may include account suspension.
Please let us know if you have any concerns or suggestions to improve this guidance!