Advice for in-home community workers
This advice is for workers who work in a client’s home or a group home setting.
Who is at risk?
For many people, COVID-19 causes a relatively mild illness. However, it can make some people very ill and, more rarely, the disease can be fatal. These people include:
- people aged 70 years and over
- people aged 65 years and over with chronic medical conditions
- people with compromised immune systems, and
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 50 years and over.
Many people requiring in-home care support may fit into this category. Some home care workers may also fit into these categories. That’s why it’s important that extra measures are put in place to protect these people from infection.
How can I protect myself and my clients?
Follow these simple steps to protect yourself and others from infection:
To protect yourself and others from infection, the following measures are recommended:
- If you feel unwell, you should not provide in-home care to clients. You should also immediately notify your supervisor.
- If you are at higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19, you should avoid homes in areas with known community transmission. You should also avoid visiting homes where residents are in isolation or self-quarantine.
- Call clients before each visit to confirm they do not have respiratory symptoms (fever, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath). If they do have symptoms, you should tell your supervisor and not visit the client until it is safe to do so.
- If a client has symptoms of a respiratory infection while you are at their home, you should leave straight away, clean your hands and contact your supervisor for advice.
- Your supervisor should look into any reports of sick clients and seek advice from the client’s medical officer to understand when visits can safely start again.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, only visit clients who require essential in-home care. Regularly review how often clients need to be visited and adjust as needed. If possible, look into other ways of providing support to clients.
Where in-home visits are essential it is important to, follow the below advice:
- Clean your hands with soap and running water or an alcohol-based hand rub before entering the client’s home and immediately after leaving.
- Clean your hands immediately before and after any direct contact with the client.
- Wear disposable gloves when handling equipment that have any client body fluids on them. Discard the used gloves in the bin after use and clean your hands straight away.
- When providing healthcare you must follow standard precautions as outlined in the Australian Guidelines for the Prevention and Control of Infection in Healthcare (2019) found at: https://www.nhmrc.gov.au/about-us/publications/australian-guidelines-prevention-and-control-infection-healthcare-2019 and the Queensland Health Interim infection prevention and control guidelines for the management of COVID-19 in healthcare settings at: https://www.health.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0038/939656/qh-covid-19-Infection-control-guidelines.pdf
- Where non-healthcare services are provided (such as home cleaning, shopping or cooking) you should maintain at least a 1.5 metre distance between yourself the client and other household members.
- You are not required to wear a face mask unless your doctor has instructed you to use one.
- Standard precautions should always be followed when cleaning or managing sharps.
- If equipment, like PPE, that you normally use is unavailable, you may apply to the Australian Government Department of Health for additional supplies by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you need to drive clients to appointments, you should:
- Check if they have respiratory illness symptoms before transporting them.
- Avoid spending time in a closed space, such as a car, with somebody who has respiratory symptoms.
- If possible, try and reschedule the client’s appointment.
- If your client requires urgent medical assistance, call 000.
For more information, visit: www.qld.gov.au/health/conditions/health-alerts/coronavirus-covid-19
For COVID-19 cleaning and disinfection recommendations, visit: www.qld.gov.au/health/conditions/health-alerts/coronavirus-covid-19/industry/resources-and-fact-sheets-for-industry/covid-19-cleaning-and-disinfection-recommendations
To view the Australian Government Department of Health COVID-19 Guide for Home Care Providers visit: https://www.health.gov.au/resources/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guide-for-home-care-providers