COVID-19: Guidance for Homecare Providers

This guidance takes account of latest government advice on COVID-19 and how to support people in their own homes.

Provision of care and support in people’s home is a high priority service, in that most care and support cannot be deferred to another day without putting clients at risk of harm.

1.  Steps for Homecare providers to maintain delivery of care:

  • We advise all providers to review their list of clients, and ensure that it is up to date, including levels of informal support available to those clients, who is in their circle of support and if the next of kin details are accurate.
  • Link in with the HSE and other homecare providers in your area to establish plans for mutual aid, taking account of their business continuity plans, and consider arrangements to support sharing of the workforce between homecare providers, and with local primary care services providers; and with deployment of volunteers where that is safe to do so.
  • Link in with your clients to enquire if there are any neighbours or friends who might be able to support them, should the situation worsen in the coming weeks.
  • Home care providers should check their stocks of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves and aprons are adequate and link in with other agencies to share resources in the event that the situation worsens in the coming weeks.

2.   If a Health Care Assistant is concerned, they have COVID-19

  • If a member of your staff is concerned they have COVID-19 they should follow the HSE’s advice which is regularly updated.
  • If they are advised to self-isolate at home they should follow the HSE’s guidance on self-isolation.
  • If advised to self-isolate at home, the Health Care Assistant should not visit and care for clients until safe to do so.

3.   If the client being cared is displaying symptoms of COVID-19

If the client receiving care and support has symptoms of COVID-19, then the risk of transmission should be minimised through safe working procedures.

3.1.   Personal protective equipment

  • Health Care Assistants should use personal protective equipment (PPE) for activities that bring them into close personal contact, such as providing intimate care, washing and bathing, and contact with bodily fluids.
  • Aprons, gloves and fluid repellent surgical masks should be used in these situations. If there is a risk of splashing, then eye protection will minimise risk.
  • New personal protective equipment must be used for each episode of care. It is essential that personal protective equipment is stored securely within disposable rubbish bags.
  • These bags should be placed into another bag, tied securely and kept separate from other waste within the room. This should be put aside for at least 72 hours before being put in the usual household waste bin.

3.2.   Cleaning

  • If Health Care Assistants undertake cleaning duties, then they should use usual household products, such as detergents and bleach as these will be very effective at getting rid of the virus on surfaces. Frequently touched surfaces should be cleaned regularly.
  • Personal waste (for example, used tissues, continence pads and other items soiled with bodily fluids) and disposable cleaning cloths can be stored securely within disposable rubbish bags.
  • These bags should be placed into another bag, tied securely and kept separate from other waste within your own room. This should be put aside for at least 72 hours before being put in the usual household waste bin for disposal as normal.

3.3.   Laundry

  • If Health Care Assistants support the client with laundry, then they should not shake dirty laundry. This minimises the possibility of dispersing virus through the air.
  • Wash items as appropriate, in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Dirty laundry that has been in contact with an ill person can be washed with other people’s items. If the client does not have a washing machine, wait a further 72 hours after the 7-day isolation period has ended; the laundry can then be taken to a public laundromat.
  • Items heavily soiled with body fluids, for example, vomit or diarrhoea, or items that cannot be washed, should be disposed of, with the owner’s consent.

4.  If neither the client nor the care worker have symptoms of COVID-19

  • If neither the care worker nor the client receiving care and support is symptomatic, then no personal protective equipment is required above and beyond normal good hygiene practices.
  • General interventions may include increased cleaning activity and keeping property properly ventilated by opening windows whenever safe and appropriate.
  • Health Care Assistants should follow the HSE guide on how to wash your hands

The HSE and HPSC brought out Guidance for Health and Social Care Workers who visit homes on the 19th March 2020.

Maighréad Kelly is a management consultant and offers a range of supports to employers in the area of HR and Operations.  For more information on the services that Maighréad provides go to www.maighreadkelly.com or check out her experience on https://www.linkedin.com/in/maighreadkelly/


How to reduce the risks associated with workplace investigation practices?

When faced with a complaint in an organisation, employers will often try and resolve the complaint themselves or will delegate the task to a junior manager. Resolving the matter can take many forms but if not handled correctly it can have significant financial, legal and reputational implications. Some of the most common mistakes that employers often make during the course of an internal workplace investigation can include:

  1. The forgoing of the pre-investigation planning stage and moving straight into investigation.
  2. The investigator chooses to morph the investigation and disciplinary steps into the same process.
  3. The investigator chooses to rely on "untested" information and therefore unduly favours one version of events and ignores discrepancies.
  4. Due to the fact that this is an internal investigation they are unable to establish a process that is perceived as independent and free of bias.
  5. Internal investigations can often be delayed, due to a number of reasons however, this "delay" can often fuel speculation and gossip therefore jeopardising appropriate disciplinary action.

Mistakes in investigations can end up being very costly for the employer and employee. The employer needs to consider what is the best approach and always take into account the needs of the business. One of the most significant considerations for employers is whether to engage an external investigator.

It may not always be appropriate or beneficial for the employer to engage an external investigator however a good investigator will induce confidence for both parties as the findings will be unbiased and independent.

Maighréad Kelly Management Consultant offers a range of supports for employers in the area of HR and Workplace Investigations. Maighréad is an experienced external investigator and is available to carry out investigations into complaints which can arise within an organisation from time to time. For more information on the services that Maighréad offers provide go to www.maighreadkelly.com or check out Maighréad’s experience on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/maighreadkelly/


Common pitfalls that employers experience when undertaking interviews…..

One of the biggest challenges facing employers in today’s employment market is the ability to be able to hire and retain good and loyal workers who are willing to take on the responsibilities of the role. Most Senior Managers within the health and caring sector state that a significant amount of their time involves sitting on interview boards trying to hire employees for the same positions over and over again. It must be acknowledged that demand for services within the health and care sector is growing year on year therefore a high level of turnover is to be expected. But the first thing I like to ask is: What information did you give the prospective employee at interview and how skilled was the person who carried out the interview?

A good interview is essential and it cannot be a one-sided. Every interviewer likes it when they interview people who are clear about their experience, can answer every question effectively and demonstrates the competence to undertake the role. Great job done, person leaves the room and everyone is happy. Twelve months later the employee resigns or the employer observes that the answers that they gave at interview does not match their work performance. What went wrong?

Well in my experience it can often be at the interview stage where it went wrong. The interview is the most important step towards hiring good employees as this is where both the employer and prospective employee establish their future working relationship. In the past I have been accused of being too direct in interviews and some of my fellow interviewers have expressed concerns that “I might put the person off…” In some cases it did but in most cases it did not. It is always important to remember that both the employee and the employer sign the contract therefore it is important that both sides on clear from day one what they are agreeing to. Good and Loyal employees know their role, their responsibilities and who they are accountable to.

Here are some tips for employers when carrying out interviews:

  1. Members of the Interview Panel are not skilled in effective interviewing: There is a common assumption that interviews are easy and once you use the correct paperwork and ask the questions on the form you will be fine. Some managers within the health and care sector are very skilled in their area but will often only have received cursory interview training and don’t know the pitfalls that can lead to bad interviewing and hiring results. Also there is an assumption that the more interviews you do the better you will get at them. However a bit like learning to drive, if you pick up bad habits in the beginning it is very hard to change them later down the line. Also it is very difficult for HR managers to know who is effective and who requires more support as they are often not on the interview panels and therefore have no way of knowing what might be happening during an individual manager’s interviews.
  2. Contrasting Candidates when interviewing large numbers in a row: Due to time constraints it is often necessary for managers to schedule one to two days of interviews in a row. Whilst this is often unavoidable the interviewer needs to be careful not to contrast one candidate over another. If an interviewer has several bad interviews in a row, the next person who performs much better may be inaccurately rated as outstanding, simply because they are so much better than the recent poor performers. Interviewers will often notice this at the end of the day when it comes to the scoring. The first couple of candidates might score lower in the morning for certain competencies compared to the candidate who comes in after two or three candidates who performed badly or who comes in straight after lunch. The reverse effect is also possible.
  3. Don’t get fooled by the enthusiasm of the Candidate: If the interviewers have had a long run of candidates who don’t perform well they can often get smitten with candidates who demonstrate enthusiasm and passion. This can result in the interviewer failing to accurately assess other important competencies and job requirements.
  4. One-way conversation: Something I have been guilty of in the past as an interviewer – is spending more time talking during the interview rather than listening. Most interviewers don’t leave equal time for the candidate to ask questions and to present information that they want to present, which can frustrate them, and then limited information is used to make the decision.
  5. Focusing too much on past experience: Interviews are mostly based on the past but whoever you hire will be working in the present and future. Most interviewers fail to ask candidates to forecast the future and to provide an outline of the plans that they will use to identify and solve upcoming problems.

Maighréad Kelly is a management consultant and offers a range of supports to employers in the area of HR and Operations. Maighréad is an experienced interviewer and is available to sit on interview panels as an external and impartial interviewer and advisor. She also works as an external investigator and is available to carry out investigations into complaints which can arise within an organisation from time to time. For more information on the services that Maighréad provides go to www.maighreadkelly.com or check out Maighréad’s experience on https://www.linkedin.com/in/maighreadkelly/