Guidance has now been issued by the Department of Social Care and Health on the restriction of workforce movement between care homes and other care settings.

Summary of the guidance:

In order to minimise the spread of COVID-19 across care settings, it is important that the movement of staff between settings should be limited as far as possible.

All staff are required to inform the Registered/ Unit Manager if they work in another care setting, either on a permanent contract, or as agency or other temporary staff, and this must be recorded on the personnel file in line with contractual obligations.

As far as a possible block booking or exclusivity contract with agency or temporary workers should be used.

Except for in exceptional circumstances, if an individual needs to attend 2 or more settings there should be a 10-day interval between each setting and a negative COVID-19 test will be required prior to the staff member entering the home.

Exceptional circumstances include where a service has planned its staffing requirements in accordance with CQC fundamental standards, and is unable to ensure sufficient staff are available to deliver care safely. This would include any unplanned absences or other unforeseen circumstances that prevent staff from attending work.

Where staff movement is unavoidable to meet the needs of the person using the service, steps must be taken to keep everyone safe:

  • Temporary workers must have a negative PCR test for COVID-19 in the 7 days prior to their shift and should also be tested using a Lateral Flow Device (LFD) on their first day before they start their first shift
  • The LFD must be negative
  • Temporary workers should be included in routine testing for the home and should be tested with an LFD every time they return to the home following working elsewhere
  • As with all regular testing, if someone tests positive with a PCR test, they should not be tested using PCR or rapid lateral flow for 90 days, unless they develop new symptoms during this time. For individuals who still fall into this 90-day window, they should use evidence of their positive PCR result to show that they are currently exempt from testing until the 90-day period is over
  • Once the 90 day period is over, the individual should then continue to follow the relevant testing regime as set out above.
  • As far as possible, in each individual service, staff movement should be limited between groups of residents or floors/ wings.
  • Staff should NOT work between cohorted COVID-positive and COVID-negative residents.
  • Staff should limit the use of public transport and should avoid lift-sharing arrangements and travel solo in their own vehicle as far as possible.
  • All temporary staff should be inducted with the IPC requirements and should view the IPC training video prior to starting in the service for the first time. This should be regularly reviewed and updated.

Action Required

As previously communicated, to help prevent the spread of the virus, agencies must reduce the instances of temporary staff working across and moving between health and care settings and, wherever possible, ensure the same workers are proposed to each block booking of shifts a particular GRI client location.

We are always keen to hear of any initiatives you are rolling out within your agency to increase candidate availability through the coronavirus pandemic. If you have any questions or would like to discuss a specific issue about a client requirement during this period, please do not hesitate to contact us at any time.

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