As infections increase, here is a refresher on how nurses and carers can help prevent and reduce transmission on shifts.
12 steps to prevent infection on shift
1. Block book to reduce your exposure
Block booking helps to reduce the exposure you as a nurse or carer has to different teams, but also reduces the transmission between care homes.
Mention you're interested in block booking to care homes you work with regularly, and they can then arrange multiple shifts with you via Florence.
Or, speak to your Florence account manager, and they will be able to help find block-booking opportunities in your area. Get in touch by calling your account manager on 020 3911 2555, or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
2. Monitor care homes' COVID status
Care homes posting shifts on Florence are asked every 24 hours if they have someone with symptoms in the home. If they say ‘yes’, a notification will appear on the care home’s Florence page, and also on reminders you receive if you’re already booked for a shift.
The notification will look like this:
This will also help you know the conditions at the home before you go, so you can make an informed choice as to whether you can work the shift.
Read more about this: How to See Which Care Homes on Florence have COVID-19 Symptoms
3. Only wear your uniform at work
Do not travel to and from work in your uniform. Wear different clothes for travel, change at work and bag your uniform at the end of each shift. Remember to leave plenty of time to change at the start of the shift.
Wash uniforms at above 60 degrees or as hot as the material will stand, and always take a fresh set in to work.
4. Know the environment and get a comprehensive handover
Ensure you are fully orientated to the care home environment if it is your first visit and arrive in good time to have a comprehensive clinical handover at the start of your shift.
5. Share care responsibilities for symptomatic patients
You should avoid being assigned to work as a 1:1 care provider for any residents who are experiencing COVID-19 related symptoms - this will reduce the risk of transmission to you or other care providers.
You can continue to give short episodes of care and medication administration where required to residents with symptoms.
6. Wear PPE
You should wear a face mask at all times during your shift in a care home. It does not need to be changed between residents. Replace it if you go for a break or if it becomes visibly soiled.
PPE, including masks, should be available and put on outside the resident's room to reduce the risk of transmission. PPE should be removed inside the resident's room and disposed of in the clinical waste bins. You must always wear the most appropriate PPE.
7. Isolate symptomatic patients
Residents who are displaying symptoms of COVID-19 should be isolated in their rooms (ideally a single room with bathroom facilities).
Medical advice must be sought for residents who’s symptoms worsen and ensure you communicate with the rest of the shift to ensure the correct actions are taken in relation to PPE and testing .
8. Take regular COVID-19 tests
Ensure you have an opportunity to be regularly tested for COVID-19 (weekly where possible). In Scotland it is a requirement that you are tested every week and in England it is a recommendation that you are tested every week.
Find the latest information about how to arrange your own test on the government's testing portal here.
9. Take a risk assessment
If you think it would be helpful to have a COVID-19 risk assessment, please contact your Florence account manager who will be happy to help. Florence uses the Welsh government's ‘COVID-19 Risk assessment for Healthcare Workers’ to risk assess, as it's the most thorough document we've found.
10. Keep rested and hydrated
It is essential that you and your team take regular breaks and remain rested and well-hydrated. Breaks are not a luxury but an important part of preventing fatigue-related incidents. Dehydration causes a reduction in your brain’s processing power, which may stop you being able to make critical decisions. Keep residents safe by looking after yourself and your team!
11. Document residents’ conditions
Documentation is essential when caring for all residents, regardless of whether they are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or that of another illness. Careful monitoring of vital signs will ensure prompt additional care can be sought if their condition deteriorates, particularly as we move into FLU season.
12. Manage visitors
Many care homes continue to restrict visitors in order to prevent the spread of infection. Ensure those visiting the home for essential reasons (such as a clinical deterioration of a resident) apply appropriate PPE and observe good hand hygiene techniques.
Further help for nurses and carers
We appreciate the hard work you're doing every day on the frontline of the coronavirus crisis.
The steps above are a summarised version of information found in Florence’s updated COVID-19 course. For further learning, take the free course now on Florence Academy. We hope it's useful to your practice.
For your daily work, 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. If you discover a case of COVID-19 while on shift, please see the advice here.