Mar 3rd, 2020

Coronavirus: Information for Community Referral Partners

COVID-19 - Shutterstock Lightspring
Family Resource Home Care Response to Coronavirus

Dear Referral Partners,

Family Resource Home Care is actively monitoring the progression of the respiratory illness COVID-19, caused by a novel coronavirus. While a majority of cases of COVID-19 are mild, causing only fever and cough, a very small percentage of cases become severe and may progress to pneumonia, particularly in elderly people and people with underlying medical conditions. Given this is the primary population we serve, we are preparing accordingly. This situation continues to develop rapidly as new cases are identified in our communities and our protocols will be adjusted as needed. As of today, March 2, 2020, our response includes:

Our Response and Readiness:
  • We are following updates and procedures from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Washington State and Idaho Departments of Health, local and county health departments and authorities, the Home Care Association of America and other agencies and resources. We will continue to adjust our plans according to the recommendations from these organizations.
  • As a standard practice, we have an emergency preparedness plan in place. We will continue to follow it as this situation evolves or update it accordingly.
  • We are advising all caregiver staff across Washington and Idaho to follow our established protocol regarding staying home when sick. We already advise staff not to go to work if they feel ill, so this practice is not new to our staff.
  • We are in communication with caregiver staff to assess any known risk factors, such as travel to areas with widespread outbreaks or local contact in areas known to have reported cases. We will advise them not to report to work if they are deemed high-risk.
  • We are communicating with clients, families, loved ones, or delegated care managers about our staff protocols and preparedness, as well as with guidelines for contingency plans for care, should this outbreak impact workforce availability.
  • We believe that home remains the safest place for care, as the chances for exposure to a virus are decreased for those who can stay in their homes or limit group exposure with personalized support in more private settings within facilities.
  • For clients we serve who reside in facilities or other group-type living situations, we will work closely with the facility on any protocols, exchange of information, or other guidelines as necessary.
  • We acknowledge that many of our clients are especially at risk, given they are older adults or have underlying health issues. We are vigilant about our need to help protect these individuals from illness be it the flu, COVID-19, or any other communicable disease. These measures are not new to us as we seek to minimize risk regularly for our clients, regardless of an outbreak such as that of this new coronavirus. This risk reduction is already inherent in our day-to-day practices.
Instructions for Our Staff and Caregivers:
  • Staff are instructed to follow our existing protocol, which states they are to stay home when sick. If a staff member is sick, we will remove them from the schedule and work diligently to find a healthy replacement caregiver.
  • Staff are advised to notify us of any known risk factors, such as travel to areas with widespread outbreaks or local contact in areas known to have reported cases. If a staff member is deemed to be high-risk, we will remove them from the schedule, follow the guidelines from national and local health agencies to report the risk and find replacement staffing if needed.
  • Staff are instructed to be extra vigilant in our established infection prevention measures, already in place for influenza and all other communicable diseases, which include:
    • not reporting to work if ill
    • washing hands often with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand sanitizer
    • avoiding touching eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands
    • avoiding close contact with people who are sick
    • covering mouths and noses with a tissue if coughing or sneezing
    • cleaning and disinfecting objects and surfaces
  • Currently, the CDC does not recommend home-based caregivers wear masks or respirators if non-symptomatic, however, given this is an emerging issue we will adjust if needed.
  • If a staff member becomes ill and is suspected to have the coronavirus, or is diagnosed with coronavirus, we will follow the protocols established by national and local agencies to report the illness and notify those who may have come in contact with that person.
  • We will encourage caregivers to also be aware of symptoms in clients and to respond accordingly by taking infection prevention measures and notifying the office of any concerns of serious illness in a client.
  • If a client is ill with a fever or respiratory symptoms, it’s recommended the client be encouraged to see a physician for further evaluation and consider wearing a mask. 
Contingency Planning for Staffing:
  • Depending on the severity of the spread of illness in communities or the response taken by national and state authorities (i.e. mandatory isolation, closure of schools, etc.), our staffing levels may be affected. As a result, we may be unable to cover all shifts. 
  • We will make every effort possible to provide our clients with safe and appropriate care and seek to avoid canceling shifts, however, we cannot guarantee this will not occur given the uncertainties about this particular situation.
  • At all times, regardless of a viral outbreak or other situation, we strongly recommend that our clients have alternative arrangements for the provisions of care in the event we are unable to provide services. We encourage back-up plans to be considered now, as the severity of the spread of this illness and planned interventions is still uncertain.

The safety and well-being of our clients and staff are our utmost priority, now and always. We will keep you updated should changes to our protocol occur and we invite you to reach out to us with any specific questions.

 

Resources
  • Washington State Department of Health Call Center:

1-800-525-0127 and press #.

  • Guidance for Persons Who are at Higher Risk:

Resources for at-risk individuals and those with underlying medical conditions

  • Coronavirus Fact Sheet (11 languages available):

https://www.doh.wa.gov/Emergencies/NovelCoronavirusOutbreak2020/FactSheet

  • General updates from the Washington State Department of Health:

https://www.doh.wa.gov/Emergencies/Coronavirus

  • General updates from the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare:

https://healthandwelfare.idaho.gov/COVID19/tabid/4664/Default.aspx

  • General updates from the CDC:

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

  • If you have questions or concerns specific to your or your clients and Family Resource, please contact your local office.

 

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