Mar 3rd, 2020

Coronavirus: Information for Staff and Caregivers

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Coronavirus: What You Need to Know, What You Need to Do

We are actively monitoring the progression of the respiratory illness COVID-19, caused by a novel coronavirus. While the 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, our preparation and infection prevention measures are very important. Here’s what you need to know and what you need to do as a Family Resource caregiver.

If you feel sick or suspect you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus:
  • If you feel sick with a fever, cough, or upper respiratory illness, please notify your supervisor and do not report for your shift or work.
  • If you have known risk factors for exposure to the coronavirus, including travel to areas with known outbreaks, exposure to individuals locally that are sick or at-risk, or have been to facilities in our area where known cases of COVID-19 are, please contact your supervisor. We will help assess your risk and determine if reporting to work is safe.
If your client is sick or you suspect has been exposed to the coronavirus:
  • If your client has symptoms such as fever, cough, or respiratory illness or has known risk-factors for exposure to the virus, practice caution around the client and use infection prevention methods. Contact the office if needed for further instruction.
  • Be aware of symptoms in clients and notify the office of any concerns of serious illness in a client, or encourage the client to seek medical care as you would for any other serious illness.
  • Know your client’s baseline health status – many have cough or shortness of breath as pre-existing conditions. Look for changes or worsening of symptoms that may indicate a new illness.
Before, during and after your shifts:
  • Be extra vigilant in your infection prevention measures, as we do for influenza and all other communicable diseases, which include:
    • washing hands often (before, during, and after all client care) 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, we will update this protocol if needed.
  • Refer back to your training on universal precautions in dealing with bodily fluids, including saliva and respiratory droplets.
If you are diagnosed with coronavirus or suspect you have it….
  • If you become ill or suspect you have the coronavirus, besides not reporting to work, we encourage you to follow the protocols established by national and local agencies to report your illness and notify those who may have come in contact with you. See below for resources.
  • If you are diagnosed with coronavirus, we will work with the local health authorities to follow protocol for notifying any clients who may have been exposed.
Preparing and protecting yourself and your family:
  • 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 workplaces or schools, public transportation, etc.), your ability to report for work may be impacted. We recommend that you begin now to set up back-up and support systems for childcare, family care, and other potential disruptions.  
  • We will make every effort possible to provide our clients with safe and appropriate care and avoid shift cancellations by clients, however, we cannot guarantee this will not occur given the uncertainties about this particular situation. We may also be looking for help with staffing shifts if the illness becomes widespread. Should this occur, please consider working additional hours if you are able.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, then immediately throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands.
  • Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces.
  • Eat well, drink lots of water, and get rest to strengthen your immune system.
  • Have a family emergency preparedness plan that includes care coverage and back up support, if possible.
  • Stay at home and away from others if you are feeling ill.
  • If you have underlying medical issues that put you in the high-risk category, avoid large public gatherings or other places outside the home. Limit your contact with others.
Family Resource’s 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 communicating with our clients and their loved ones about our plans and our staff protocols. If you get questions from clients, encourage them to call the office.
  • We believe that home remains the safest place for care, as indications show that the virus is spread more quickly in facilities and larger groups or public settings. Possible exposure will remain the lowest for those who are able to stay in their homes and limit contact. For this reason, we feel fortunate to be able to provide care that can keep people at home.
  • 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.
  • Our Consent and Service Agreement states, “we strongly recommend that the Client have alternative arrangements for the provisions of care in the event the Agency is unable to provide the Services.” We are encouraging clients to begin thinking about back-up plans now, as the severity of the spread of this illness and planned interventions are still uncertain.
National and Local 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 you or your clients and Family Resource, please contact your local office.
 About the Coronavirus and COVID-19
  • The world is experiencing an outbreak of respiratory illness (COVID-19) caused by a new coronavirus.
  • Most cases of COVID-19 are mild and cause cold or flu-like symptoms such as fever and cough.
  • Some cases are more severe, especially in those with underlying medical issues, weakened immune systems, or the elderly. These cases can result in complications like pneumonia or death.
  • Other variations of human coronaviruses include evolved strains are the SARS virus of 2003.
  • Coronavirus is spread person to person much like any cold or flu virus – through the air by coughing or sneezing, close personal contact such as touching, or by touching a surface with the virus on it.
  • Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, shortness of breath. Symptoms may range from mild to severe.
  • Symptoms can appear in two days or as long as 14 days after exposure.
  • The CDC is recommending people with the virus or known exposure be isolated in the hospital or at home to prevent further spread or risk of infecting others.
  • Anyone with a fever or upper respiratory infection should be very cautious about being around others. Staying home is encouraged.
  • No known vaccine for a human-contracted coronavirus is available, making precaution and infection prevention critical.

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.

 

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