GRI have been contacting all our agency providers to establish their protocols/processes that have been put in place to mitigate the threat of Covid-19 and to remind them of the official advice.
We have advised our agencies of the following:
1) Agency workers should be asked about any travel before they go on a shift.
2) That the agency must keep-up-to-date with the Coronavirus hotspots that are emerging, as these are changing rapidly. That the agency should issue an email every day to their consultants to make them aware.
3) We have circulated the link https://www.gov.uk/guidance/wuhan-novel-coronavirus-information-for-the-public and asked this to be checked daily and fresh advice issued to consultants - and on to workers accordingly, regarding the hotspots and official guidance. We want to ensure that misinformation is not spreading and everyone is working from the official advice.
4) That agencies must remind workers that is their responsibility to mention any travel that could compromise their health status and impress on them the seriousness of this. Anyone at risk of potentially having the virus due to recent travel patterns should self-isolate until they are outside the incubation period and should not be placed in shifts. Health and care agencies have been reminded that so far the Coronavirus seems to be causing the greatest number of fatalities in individuals who are older or who have weakened immune systems or pre-existing conditions – and that therefore patients and care home residents could be particularly compromised if they were to come into contact with a worker carrying the virus.
5) We have asked agencies to remind their workers that good hygiene has never been more critical. This includes the advice to:
- Avoid touching their eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Stay home when they are sick.
- Cover coughs or sneezes with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
- Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing noses, coughing, or sneezing.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser with at least 60% alcohol.
- Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
6) If people have been requested to self-isolate and they are unsure what this means, we have asked our agencies to explain that workers should take simple, common-sense steps to avoid close contact with other people as much as possible, like they would with other flu viruses. This means remaining at home for 14 days and not going to work, school or public areas. Where possible, they should avoid having visitors to their home, although it is ok for friends, family or delivery drivers to drop off food. Public transport or taxis should not be used. They should contact a friend, family member or delivery services to carry out errands on their behalf or take their children to school.
From a GRI perspective, we have held an all staff call to impress upon our teams the importance of all of the above, issued hand sanitiser per desk pod, are checking travel histories and are encouraging our team to video conference/phone conference where possible. We are keeping a close eye on the situation and updating our plans and guidance for all contingencies based on official government advice.