Since the beginning of the pandemic we know that most care home providers have taken steps to minimise the movement of workforces to reduce the risk of asymptomatic transmission of the virus. These steps have been taken in addition to routine systems of infection control and, where appropriate, use of personal protective equipment (PPE).
The government’s winter plan for social care confirmed that stopping staff movement in and between care settings is critical to minimise the risk of infection of COVID-19. Care home providers should continue to limit all staff movement between settings unless absolutely necessary to help reduce the spread of infection. This includes:
- Staff who work for one provider across several care homes
- Staff who work on a part-time basis for multiple employers in multiple care homes or other care settings
- Agency or other temporary staff
The only exceptions to this are where staff movement is unavoidable in order to meet the needs of people using the service and keep them safe at all times. It is recognised that where a care provider has exceptionally high levels of staff absence, including where there is a large outbreak, providers may need to rely on mutual aid from the local care system or use agency staff. This may involve staff who have recently worked at another regulated setting. This guidance sets out mitigations that should be taken to reduce transmission risks in these exceptional circumstances.
- This guidance sets out expectations of providers on limiting the routine movement of staff, and how to manage the risks of deploying individuals who work in multiple settings in those exceptional circumstances where it is the only remaining mechanism to ensure enough staff are available to care for service users safely.
Restricting routine staff movement
To reduce the risk of infections and outbreaks in care homes, providers should not deploy staff to provide nursing care or personal care if those individuals are also providing a regulated activity in another setting. This is for both permanent and temporary staff, including agency and bank staff, staff who work across multiple sites for the same employer and staff who work for more than one health and social care provider. Staffing requirements should be planned so routine movement is not necessary to maintain safe staffing levels. Mitigations such as block booking should be used to further minimise staff movement where agency or other temporary staff are needed.
Should a provider need to deploy an individual who usually attends 2 settings, the provider should ensure there is a 10-day interval between the individual attending the 2 settings and require a negative test result prior to the individual entering the home. This should be followed in all but exceptional circumstances.
To read the full guidance please click HERE