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Reducing the risk of coronavirus in care homes

Care & Nursing Essentials' round-up of news and advice on the coronavirus outbreak for those working in care homes, including a printable guide…

Care homes urge visitors to stay away

As coronavirus cases in the UK continue to rise, many care homes have now taken the decision to ban visitors unless absolutely necessary.

Despite the government’s decision not to advise distancing, many care providers took the decision to reduce the number of people coming in and out of care home settings in order to help stem the spread of the virus. 

Pharmacist and NHS Digital adviser Mohammed Hussain Mario Kreft, whose care home staff are taking coronavirus measures tweeted that the move by care homes was “another example of organisations taking the lead where government guidance is behind the curve”.

Meanwhile Mario Kreft MBE, the chair of Care Forum Wales and owner of eight care homes in Wrexham and Caernarfon, said: “In my organisation, Pendine Park, we’re already significantly reducing the number people entering homes and we’ve introduced washing stations outside each of them.

“We’ve got to do everything that we can to ensure that people are safe, and I would say this to anybody who wants to visit a loved one in a care home to think very, very carefully because totally accidentally this virus could be transmitted.

“Simply put, not visiting care homes is likely to save people’s lives.

“I think it’s very important that we recognise that care homes will be a safe haven.”

 

Spring Budget's extra funding to tackle coronavirus 

As the coronavirus outbreak reaches epidemic level globally, the UK government has pledged funds to help stop the spread of the virus and to ease financial difficulty caused by Covid-19.

During the Spring Budget, Chancellor Rishi Sunak pledged to make it easier for people to claim sick pay and outlined measures for self-employed people. He also announced extra funding to help public services cope.

Mr Sunak stated: “I know how worried people are. What everyone needs to know is we are doing everything we can to keep this country and our people healthy and financially secure. This is an issue above party.”

Despite the extra funds announced regarding the coronavirus outbreak, Siva Anandaciva, Chief Analyst at The King’s Fund said social care had been "overlooked" in the budget. He said: "The coronavirus outbreak has understandably altered the government’s priorities for this Budget so the extra £5bn announced for the NHS, social care and other public services to support their response to the coronavirus is very welcome. As the situation develops the government will need to keep under review how much funding public services need.

"The Budget also included an additional £6bn for the NHS to deliver on some of the government’s headline manifesto commitments. Chronic workforce shortages remain the single biggest issue currently facing the NHS and social care, yet the Budget was light on detail of how it would boost recruitment and retention, and support under pressure staff. The publication of a long-term, comprehensive NHS People Plan has been repeatedly delayed and held back to allow for today’s Budget commitments, so it is now essential to get this published as soon as possible.

"Adult social care remains a pressing and overlooked issue and despite the Prime Minister’s election commitment to ‘fix it once and for all’ the pressures have only increased in recent months. It is hugely disappointing that this Budget does not include an emergency cash injection to help local government to address social care needs beyond coronavirus. In writing to MPs and Peers last week, the government has still not come forward with any proposals for long term reform of social care."

 

Printable poster for your care home

The team at Log my Care – a care management app provider – has created this poster with a list of handy information as well as a quick instruction set as to how to log a suspected coronavirus incident within the Carer App:

Coronavirus poster for care homes

 

Advice on reducing spread risk

A scientist has published some useful advice on how to help prevent the spread of coronavirus which can help you prevent yourself and care home residents from catching the disease.

Scientist James Robb (MD FCAP) was a professor of pathology at the University of California San Diego and one of the first molecular virologists in the world to work on coronaviruses in the 1970s.

His tips are fairly self-explanatory but explain clearly why these precautions are needed – and his advice on stocking up on zinc lozenges has sparked a worldwide spike in sales of the product.

Dr Robb said: “I was the first to demonstrate the number of genes the virus contained. Since then, I have kept up with the coronavirus field and its multiple clinical transfers into the human population (e.g., SARS, MERS), from different animal sources. The current projections for its expansion in the US are only probable, due to continued insufficient worldwide data, but it is most likely to be widespread in the US by mid to late March and April.” Coronavirus logo

He said coronavirus is spread in large droplets by coughing and sneezing. This means that the air will not infect you but all the surfaces where these droplets land are infectious for about a week on average.
Therefore, everything that is associated with infected people will be contaminated and potentially infectious. 
He added: “The virus is on surfaces and you will not be infected unless your unprotected face is directly coughed or sneezed upon.
“The only way for the virus to infect you is through your nose or mouth via your hands or an infected cough or sneeze onto or into your nose or mouth. 

How to prevent the spread of coronavirus 

Dr Robb listed the precautions he was currently using as coronavirus said – adding that he took the same precautions during any flu season, except for the mask and gloves:

1) No handshaking! Use a fist bump, slight bow, elbow bump, etc.
2) Use only your knuckle to touch light switches. elevator buttons, etc. Lift the gasoline dispenser with a paper towel or use a disposable glove. 
3) Open doors with your closed fist or hip – do not grasp the handle with your hand, unless there is no other way to open the door. Especially important on bathroom and post office/commercial doors. 
4) Use disinfectant wipes at the stores when they are available, including wiping the handle and child seat in grocery carts.
5) Wash your hands with soap for 10-20 seconds and/or use a greater than 60% alcohol-based hand sanitizer whenever you return home from any activity that involves locations where other people have been. 
6) Keep a bottle of sanitizer available at each of your home's entrances. And in your car for use after getting gas or touching other contaminated objects when you can't immediately wash your hands. 
7) If possible, cough or sneeze into a disposable tissue and discard. Use your elbow only if you have to. The clothing on your elbow will contain infectious virus that can be passed on for up to a week or more!

zinc lozenges are recommended to help halt coronavirus

 
What to buy to help protect yourselves and those around you 

Dr Robb also recommended stockpiling some essential medical items:
 
1) Latex or nitrile latex disposable gloves for use when going shopping, using the gasoline pump, and all other outside activity when you come in contact with contaminated areas. 
  
2) Disposable surgical masks – use them to prevent you from touching your nose and/or mouth (We touch our nose/mouth 90 times a day without knowing it!). This is the only way this virus can infect you – it is lung-specific. The mask will not prevent the virus in a direct sneeze from getting into your nose or mouth – it is only to keep you from touching your nose or mouth.
 
3) Stock up now with hand sanitizers and latex/nitrile gloves (get the appropriate sizes for your family). The hand sanitizers must be alcohol-based and greater than 60% alcohol to be effective. 
 
4) Stock up now with zinc lozenges. These lozenges have been proven to be effective in blocking coronavirus (and most other viruses) from multiplying in your throat and nasopharynx. Use as directed several times each day when you begin to feel any "cold-like" symptoms beginning. It is best to lie down and let the lozenge dissolve in the back of your throat and nasopharynx. Cold-Eeze lozenges is one brand available, but there are other brands available. 

 

Dr Robb added: "I, as many others do, hope that this pandemic will be reasonably contained, but I personally do not think it will be. Humans have never seen this snake-associated virus before and have no internal defence against it.

"Tremendous worldwide efforts are being made to understand the molecular and clinical virology of this virus. Unbelievable molecular knowledge about the genomics, structure, and virulence of this virus has already been achieved. But, there will be no drugs or vaccines available this year to protect us or limit the infection within us. Only symptomatic support is available. I hope these personal thoughts will be helpful during this potentially catastrophic pandemic."
 

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