The spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) has been a major focus of media attention and is now being treated as a global pandemic disease. It requires everyone’s involvement to contain and deal with the spread of the virus.
At Birdie, we are taking several immediate actions to help our partner agencies deal with the virus and reduce the risk for the vulnerable population we all care for.
You’ll find in this blog a summary of:
- The actions taken by our customer care team to protect your clients;
- The adaptations we’re making to our software to support the containment of the virus;
- Resources and advice for staying safe and supporting your clients and care staff.
Actions taken by the Birdie team
No team member at Birdie has been tested COVID-19 positive nor shows any concerning sign of disease. However, as a preventative measure, as of yesterday, we have asked our customer care and support team to work from home in order to prevent any indirect contamination of your service users. Most on-site visits will be cancelled unless absolutely necessary. However, you can count on our permanent 24/7 online and call support, as usual.
Adaptations to our software
Earlier this week, our technical team agreed to implement product features to convey the mandatory guidelines of the NHS, the CQC and the Ministry of Health and Social Care. As of next week, carers using Birdie will see a daily message with official health and safety guidelines when opening the app (e.g., wash hands, notify/raise an alert if they spot symptoms of the virus with the service user, etc.).
We’re working on an additional feature which will allow you to display a custom message to your care staff about COVID-19. This message will be displayed on your carer’s app when they login and can be tailored with any message of your choosing and include the option to add a call to action (website link or phone number to call). You can update this message whenever you need to, and the aim is to make sure that any important information relating to the virus outbreak is always front of mind. We expect this feature to be ready within two weeks and we’ll keep you up to date.
Resources for staying safe and supporting your clients and care staff
With so much information available and the situation changing daily, it can be difficult to know which advice to follow and how to make sure the information you’re accessing is correct. Below we’ve rounded up some of the most important advice from government bodies, links to the key places you should source information from and some actionable tips that you can start doing right away to protect your clients, staff and keep everyone reassured.
Important links and credible sources
There’s so much information about coronavirus that it’s hard to know where to source the most relevant breaking news. Here are our suggestions:
- Follow the NHS on Twitter for daily updates (@NHSuk)
- and bookmark their dedicated coronavirus page
- Check the gov.uk website to keep on top of up to date statistics about virus hotspots
- Sign up for emails from the CQC to receive updates tailored to the home care industry
- Create Google alerts to get breaking news on coronavirus cases in your city or at nearby facilities.
- Bookmark this gov.uk page for up to date information on what to do as a healthcare professional to reduce the spread of the virus.
- Join the Registered Managers Facebook Group to share best practices with other care managers and care workers.
Preparing for emergencies
At the moment (March 12th), the government recommends that businesses continue as normal. But, in order to be prepared for an emergency, following the below steps will ensure you’re prepared.
- Document and review your infection-control protocols. Follow guidance from Public Health England on proper infection control and make sure all care staff are aware of and adhering to your policy. Share these protocols with your clients as well and make sure that all clients and families know how to contact you if they have concerns about their care team.
- Display hand washing guidance in public areas and circulate these amongst your staff using channels like WhatsApp (if you use it) or email and text.
- Stock up on supplies that your caregivers and clients may need, such as wipes, sanitizers, and gowns from your wholesalers, or online if you can.
- Document your worst-case scenarios now so you’ll be ready to act quickly if they happen. What will you do if yourself, or a member of your staff has an unconfirmed case? If it’s confirmed? And do the same for your clients and office employees. Advice about what to do can be found by following this government link.
Care for your care staff
- Be sure to read the gov.uk advice for business and employers in the first instance.
- Ask your staff about recent travel or interactions with family members or clients who may have been exposed to the coronavirus. You can ask them to report these to you by email, or WhatsApp, and if they have had recent interactions be sure to follow NHS advice on self-isolation.
- Reconsider your caregiver sick leave policy. Care staff will be more likely to stay home when sick if they know they won’t be penalised or required to get a doctor’s note to excuse their absence. Consider what procedures you will follow to allow a sick caregiver to return to work.
- Activate/recruit backup care staff if possible. You may find yourself with a shortage of caregivers— so prepare now by identifying additional qualified caregivers who can be available.
- Make sure you have valid email addresses, phone numbers, and emergency contacts for each of your care staff.
- Send regular updates so your care staff know you’re concerned about their well-being and share frequent hygiene reminders, including videos showing proper hand-washing techniques.
- Share your emergency preparedness plans. Remind care staff to alert you immediately if they’ve had any exposure to someone who might have contracted coronavirus.
- Current advice for what to do if a member of staff becomes unwell can be found here, including advice around certifying absence from work.
Advice for care staff
Remind your care staff of the symptoms to watch for when visiting clients. Coronavirus is more likely to infect the older adult population, however, if someone has a condition listed below they are even more prone to infection:
- Heart disease
- Chronic respiratory disease
- High blood pressure
Remind your staff to access your client's care plan through the Birdie app and if they spot anything unusual, encourage them to raise an alert. In particular, the following symptoms should be raised as a high priority:
- High temperature
- Shortness of breath
You may want to update your client’s task lists on Birdie, and add a reminder for care staff to wash their hands at the beginning and end of each visit.
Reassuring your clients
Clients and their family members will be concerned about the impact of coronavirus, so make sure you’re staying in touch and sending frequent updates. This is a great opportunity to update your records and ensure you have email addresses and phone numbers, plus emergency contact details for your clients. We suggest sending frequent updates to your clients’ family members where you:
- Share your emergency preparedness plans and infection-protocol.
- Outline the ways you’re keeping their care staff healthy
- Remind clients that the safest place for them may be their home and encourage them to limit their outings, particularly to large public places.
- Check if they’ve had recent travel to affected regions or have been exposed to anyone with the coronavirus.
- Educate clients on the latest government updates, such as increased funding for coronavirus testing and tele-health services.
- Make sure they’re also following PHE flu season best practices and have appropriate hygiene supplies in their homes.
We know that this is an uncertain time, but by keeping informed and prepared you’ll be ensuring the safety and wellbeing of your clients and carers.