Last night, the prime minister addressed the UK to announce new lockdown guidance.
This marks the next phase in the country’s fight against the spread of coronavirus, as some restrictions are eased; while others remain in place.
What does the new advice mean for nurses and carers working on the front line? We’ve pulled out key points from the government’s current messaging, which we've laid out below.
What does the new guidance say?
The government’s slogan has changed to “Stay alert. Control the virus. Save lives.”
This has been adopted in England. In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, the slogan remains: “Stay home. Protect the NHS. Save lives.”
The public are being asked to follow these key measures to stay alert and control the virus:
- Stay at home as much as possible
- Work from home if you can
- Limit contact with other people
- Keep your distance if you go out (two metres apart where possible)
- Wash hands regularly
- Self-isolate if you or anyone in your household has symptoms
What should nurses and carers do?
Nurses and carers should follow the new guidelines where possible, paying particular attention to the advice we've gathered below (which is most relevant to healthcare workers).
We've taken this from the latest government sources, including 'Our Plan to Rebuild', released today to cover the new measures in more detail.
The advice is split into two sections - at work and outside work - to cover all parts of daily life.
1. Always wear a face mask in a care home
The government’s care home PPE guidance states you should always wear a face mask while working at a care home, whether there are residents with symptoms or not.
A face mask must be worn during all episodes of direct and indirect care, and should be changed on your break and at the start of each new shift.
Find further guidance on wearing face masks in care homes.
2. Maintain hand hygiene and PPE protocol
Maintain good hand hygiene practice while on shift. This includes washing and drying hands thoroughly before breaks, at the end of each shift, and again as soon as you get home.
Appropriate PPE should always be worn around symptomatic residents. This includes:
- Fluid repellent facemask
- Eye protection if there is a risk of splashing or exposure to respiratory droplets (plastic eye protector reusable goggles may be suitable)
PPE should be put on outside the resident's room to reduce the risk of transmission. PPE should be removed inside the resident's room.
Find out more in our PPE guidance here.
3. Avoid travel in your uniform, and wash between wears
Never travel to and from work in your uniform - this could increase your chances of spreading the virus. Wear different clothes for travel, change into your uniform at work, and bag your work clothes at the end of each shift.
Wash uniforms at above 60 degrees, and always take a fresh set in to work.
4. Block book your shifts
Workplaces are advised to minimise the amount of different workers on shift together, to reduce interactions between people from different households and prevent the spread of the virus.
For Florence nurses and carers, block booking shifts is a good option for maintaining regular work at your preferred care home(s).
5. Check COVID status before you book a shift
You should always know the working conditions in a care home before you arrive.
You can see which care homes on Florence have reported COVID-19 symptoms before you apply for a shift. The care home will display a COVID icon on the shift page, as well as your booking reminder email.
This helps you make an informed choice before applying for a shift. Find out more here: How to See Which Care Homes on Florence have COVID-19 Symptoms
1. Avoid public transport if possible
You should continue to avoid public transport wherever possible. Instead, choose to cycle, walk or drive to work if you can.
Social distancing must be followed if you do use public transport. Find more on how to do this in the government guide here.
2. Meet others - but maintain social distance
You can also now spend time outdoors to meet up with one person from outside your household. If doing this, you must remain two metres (6ft) away from the person from outside your household.
3. Exercise outdoors more
You can now exercise outside as many times each day as you wish. You will still not be able to use areas like playgrounds, outdoor gyms or ticketed outdoor leisure venues.
You may drive to any outdoor open spaces, regardless of distance from home (except from England into Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland).
4. Use a face cover in public indoor spaces
Aim to wear a face cover in public indoor spaces, for example on public transport or in some shops.
Homemade cloth face-coverings can be used for this. A face covering is not the same as a face mask, such as a surgical mask or respirators used as part of PPE. These supplies must continue to be used in healthcare settings, where they are required.
5. Protect the clinically vulnerable
Clinically vulnerable people do not need to be shielded, but should continue to take care to minimise contact with others outside their households. These include those aged 70+, those with specific chronic pre-existing conditions and pregnant women.
Those in the clinically extremely vulnerable group are should continue to stay at home at all times, and avoid any face-to-face contact.
We appreciate the incredible work you’re doing every day on the frontline of the coronavirus crisis.
Florence is continuing to work to keep you, residents and care homes protected from the spread of infection. If you are unsure, please see our guidelines on what we are doing to help all Florence users, as well as see our policy for nurses and carers to follow during this time.