COVID FAQs from our care teams (updated 20 April 2021)

Published: Thursday 9th April 2020

Answers to frequently asked questions about working during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic from our care staff and head office employees.

This information will be frequently updated as government, public health and employment guidelines are continually changing. Please note that all employees of Agincare are classed as key workers.

I am anxious about coronavirus – what help is available?

Even though lockdown restrictions are starting to ease, these unprecedented times have seen us all face changes to our daily lives and brought about anxieties for ourselves, our families and for the people we support.

It’s important to remember it is okay to feel this way and that everyone reacts differently. It is equally important to share your concerns with others. Agincare is here to support you and you can always speak to your manager, senior managers or HR who will listen and offer advice and support.

It is important to stick to the facts – get your information from reliable sources such as gov.uk and the NHS website rather than social media and other websites that may contain misinformation. Do not share information unless from these sources without fact checking against credible sources.

You might also want to limit the time you spend watching, reading or listening to coverage of the outbreak, including on social media, as this may make you feel more anxious.

Working in the care sector inevitably means that you will come across vulnerable people who have, or are suspected of having the virus. By following strict PPE guidance to protect yourself including use of masks and eye shields if required and by changing out of your uniform before leaving work; having a bath or shower on returning home you will provide yourself with the protection that is advised.

Useful resources

Can I get tested for COVID-19?

All of our care workers can now be regularly tested to help protect our clients and other team members. The process and frequency for this varies slightly across services but we are now receiving both PCR and LFD test kits more reliably and our managers are actively supporting local teams with managing this safely.

Having a test done will give you peace of mind about your safety, that of your families and the people you care for. We operate within a regulatory framework and all have a duty of care to those we support. The government is now urging the public to get regularly tested using lateral flow tests, which can be obtained though a number of channels – find out more.

When will I be offered a COVID vaccine?

COVID vaccinations started in December 2020 and some of our care home teams became the first in Dorset to receive the vaccine. Almost all our care home residents have had their first jab and the majority have had their second vaccination.  The majority of our workforce have had their first vaccinations and many their second. We are also working with various organisations to ensure that the system enables new entrants to social care to get their vaccine as soon as possible.

We are excited and pleased at the positive response from care teams so far as vaccination will not only help keep you safe but may also protect those you care for.

We get very little notice as to which locations will be next to be vaccinated, but you can rest assured that we will let you know as soon as we do. Please be prepared to be called at short notice, including having your NHS number to hand as this is needed.

We will also provide regular updates to all care teams via email, our news pages and social channels. We receive all central government guidance as soon as it is issued and also receive daily updates from councils, informing us of the situation and arrangements at a more local level.

Is the the vaccine compatible with the practices of my religion?

Please see detailed information and guidance from faith communities about COVID 19 vaccination.

What PPE do I need to wear in different situations?

Please see detailed guidance on our PPE page that is regularly updated with the latest guidance.

Who needs to self-isolate?

  • Staff who have symptoms of COVID-19
  • Staff who live with others who have family members with symptoms of COVID-19. Guidance has been provided that members of the family must self-isolate for a period of 10 days.
  • The management of exposed staff guidance will let you know about when to isolate and how this affects people you live with, return to work criteria and what to do if you test positive but have no symptoms
  • If a member of staff is concerned they have COVID-19 they should follow PHE advice. If they are advised to self-isolate at home they should follow the stay at home guidance. If advised to self-isolate at home, they should not visit and care for individuals until safe to do so.
  • We have received a significant number of reports that care workers who have been in contact with someone showing symptoms of COVID-19 have been told to self-isolate. Jenny Harries, the Government’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer has confirmed that when care and support staff find a service user who is showing signs and symptoms of COVID-19 (a high temperature, or a new and continuous cough), they are not required to self-isolate, unless they themselves go on to develop symptoms. We strongly recommend anyone showing symptoms to get tested and to follow the ‘stay at home’ guidance.
  • Payment for isolation:- Ensure you send your isolation notes to your line manager and they will process with HR.

Extremely vulnerable people

Find latest Government guidance about shielding and protecting people who are clinically extremely vulnerable from Covid-19.

What if an employee needs time off work to look after someone?

Employees are entitled to time off work to help someone who depends on them (a ‘dependant’) in an unexpected event or emergency. This would apply to situations related to coronavirus (COVID-19). For example:

  • If they have children they need to look after or arrange childcare for because their school has closed
  • To help their child or another dependant if they’re sick, or need to go into isolation or hospital
  • If you decide to isolate with a family member who is shielding or in the vulnerable group, contrary to current guidance.

This is unpaid and there is no current guidance from the government to change this.

What is the Test and Trace system?

The Test and Trace system has been set up to enable anyone who has had a specific “close contact” with somebody who tests positive to be notified. They are then expected to isolate themselves for 10 days.

A close contact of an infected person is someone they have spent 15 minutes or more within 2 metres of, or someone who has lived within the same household during a period of potential risk transmission.

However, in the overwhelming majority of cases staff will not need to self-isolate if they have been caring for a person who has tested positive for COVID-19 or who has symptoms of COVID-19 while the staff member was wearing appropriate PPE.

You would be considered a close contact and need to self isolate if your PPE was breached, or if your close contact is with a person such as a colleague or anyone else who has tested positive for Covid-19 whether at work or not.

Can I give CPR?

Yes. Where a person appears to have the absence of signs of life usual processes are to be followed if the person does not have a DNAR in place. The likelihood of transmission of infection is possible in any such case but take extra care if the person has, or is suspected of having Covid-19. You must ensure that all infection prevention control procedures apply – using your PPE, including face mask, during CPR.

Because of the possibility that the person may have COVID-19, the UK Resuscitation Council advises:

  • Do not listen or feel for breathing by placing your ear and cheek close to the person’s mouth
  • If you are in any doubt about confirming cardiac arrest, the default position is to start chest compressions until help arrives
  • Make sure an ambulance is on its way. If COVID-19 is suspected, tell them when you call 999
  • Place a cloth/towel over the victims mouth and nose and attempt compression only CPR until the ambulance arrives. Put hands together in the middle of the chest and push hard and fast. Placing a cloth/towel over the persons’ mouth and nose will limit any coughing/spluttering when the person resumes breathing
  • After performing compression-only CPR, wash hands thoroughly with soap and water. Alcohol-based hand gel is a convenient alternative

If CPR is unsuccessful, infection control precautions continue to apply whilst deceased individuals remain in the care environment. This is due to the ongoing risk of infectious transmission via contact, although the risk is usually lower than for living patients.

Where the deceased was known or suspected to have been infected with COVID-19, inform the GP who comes to certify death, the coroner if required and the chosen funeral director prior to collection.

What is viral load?

Viral load simply means how much of a virus you have in your body. Standing further away from someone when they breathe or cough means fewer virus particles reach you.

The infectious dose is the amount of a virus you need to be exposed to become ill. With flu viruses you only need pick up a small amount to become sick but in covid-19 scientists don’t yet know how big a dose a person needs to be exposed to but it is likely to be relatively small due to the number of people affected and contracting the virus. The more you are exposed, the sicker you will likely become.

Find out more about long Covid

What is the guidance outside of work?

As frontline essential workers delivering care to vulnerable members of your community, lockdown and tier guidelines do not restrict you from doing your jobs. However, outside of work you must follow the prevailing guidance to ensure you reduce/avoid transition of the virus to our clients and other team members.

View PPE – what care staff need to know

View all our latest news, guidance and FAQs on coronavirus.