By Eloise Wakeford, Founder and Chief Executive of County Carers (www.countycarers.com)
Like many roles in the care indus- try, there are a number of risks that come with the job of a carer, particularly when it comes to patient handling and even more so with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. As times remain uncertain for many individuals in care and their loved ones, it’s important for precautions to be taken to reduce this risk through the application of clear roles and responsibilities for care staff.
In every day domiciliary care, there is always the physical risk of attaining injuries such as chronic pain, sprains or strains, through bend- ing and moving around to tend to clients. However, the coronavirus pandemic has caused the rise of different risk factors which those in the care industry have had to adapt to.
Domiciliary care involves the caring for individuals in their own homes, through the support of professional caregivers. As the coronavirus is a worry for many, carers have to be extremely careful with their whereabouts and personal vigilance in between appointments. With the risks posed by the spread of Covid-19, caregivers are taking extreme measures to protect their clients. Daily clients continue to receive care from the regular carers who are immediately taken off shift if they (or anyone in their household) present any symptoms. Live-in carers are not rotating between clients as normal, but instead are staying with their 1 client to reduce any risk of the spread of infection.
SAFETY MEASURES AND PRECAUTIONS:
With these new risks, come new precautions and safety measures. In a similar way to the regulations with restaurants and retail companies, all clients’ temperatures have to be taken at the beginning of their appointments to ensure staff and clients aren’t coming into contact with the virus. Symptoms such as coughing and loss of smell or taste must also be recognised when carers are entering the home and if there is a risk, this must be reported. It’s important that there is always a record kept to save complications where carers or clients end up being put at risk.
In order to protect the elderly who are extremely vulnerable, it’s vital for the greater good that every person involved in the care system is treated, initially as if they have symptoms of coronavirus. Even when these are not apparent, all carers must still wear face masks, PPE and take precautions in washing their hands and using suitable hand sanitizer. When any client presents potential symptoms, the carer(s) involved should isolate until they produce a negative result and do not visit any other clients to minimise the risk of spreading the virus.
EFFECTS FOR EMPLOYEES:
Now more than ever, it’s important that caregivers are given the sup- port that they need, whilst also supporting others. Their voices and deci- sions must be respected when it comes to choosing to self isolate or take precautions for themselves, even more so, if they are living with family or friends who are at high risk. In some cases, there is lack of family support for individuals and it can be difficult to get enough sleep and to maintain a proper diet when working hours change each day, depending on night shifts or last minute call outs.
For caregivers who are parents or carers in their personal lives, it’s vital that they prioritise the safety of their children and families. It is a tough period of time for people working in the care industry, with many people fearing passing on the coronavirus to individuals in a vulnerable position. As this continues, domiciliary care employees must be sure to stay alert and aware to reduce the risks and to keep those that they work with, and live with, safe.