Make sure you follow Health Protection Scotland’s guidance for any issues in relation to coronavirus, COVID-19. This is available on Health Protection Scotland’s website.

You can find information on our website here. It is important that you check these websites daily to stay up to date.

We are receiving questions from services on a daily basis. We have captured some of the most frequently asked questions below. We are updating this regularly as more information becomes available.

The response to the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak is complex and fast moving. It is important that you continue to check information on the relevant websites that we have linked to below.

 

I have a family returning from a holiday abroad, are they able to attend my care service?

Guidance on whether someone is required to self-isolate is provided by Health Protection Scotland. It is important you check their website daily because as the situation changes, so does the advice. Guidance for staff working in non-healthcare settings provides details of whether someone has to self-isolate.

What if a family complains about my service as a result of any actions I take relating to coronavirus COVID-19?

We will consider any complaints on a case-by-case basis. Our key focus will always be the wellbeing of children and adults using services. Providing you have followed the appropriate guidance from Health Protection Scotland, we will not investigate complaints of this nature.

What if people cannot attend our service due to coronavirus COVID-19 restrictions, can I still charge them fees?

The decision to charge fees or not is one for the individual provider. We recommend that you refer to your terms and conditions detailed in your contracts to guide your approach. Help for self-employed people and businesses is available on the UK Government website.

Providing care is my main source of income, where can I get advice if I am struggling financially as a result of coronavirus COVID-19?

Guidance is available on the UK Government’s website.

In children’s services should we be avoiding certain activities such as sand, playdough or water trays to prevent the spread of infection?

We would suggest that services consider removing sand pits, playdough and water trays etc. as these cannot we easly cleaned. Always encourage and promote good hygiene with the children and staff. Do not contact the Health Protection Team if a child has a confirmed coronavirus COVID-19 test, they will contact you. Further guidance about infection control is available on Health Protection Scotland’s website.

We have planned an open evening for families, should we cancel this?

Yes. The Scottish Government has advised there should be no unnecessary gatherings at this time. You should consider whether there are different approaches to sharing information remotely.

What should I do about our CSQ’s (care standard questionnaires)? 

We do not expect services to process these at this time. 


Staffing

What are the Care Inspectorate expectations around staffing ratios, if our staff are off sick or at home self-isolating?

We understand the concerns you may have around staffing. We ask that you plan contingencies for how to staff your service as normal in the event colleagues are unwell. Child to adult ratios feature in our registration and inspection of early learning and childcare (ELC). However, for other service types, including care homes, we stopped issuing staffing schedules at the point of registering a service in 2018. Instead, we expect the staffing numbers, and skills and experience of staff to reflect the needs of people who use services.

At this extremely challenging time, we will support all services in their need to apply flexibility and judgement around staffing to ensure the safety and wellbeing of people using the service. We recognise services will need to be creative and make use of a wider range of resources. This could potentially include staff from other public services and volunteers. We recognise that this will mean services may not be able to undertake all normal recruitment checks as quickly and easily as they did before.

However, during this period it is important that providers put in place structures to support and oversee staff in their role, including any volunteers and unregistered staff. The Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) is responsible for registering the social care workforce. People can now work in registrable roles for a period of 12 months without being registered, which enables services to adopt a flexible approach.

Employers should continue to carry out recruitment checks for new staff and volunteers, but immediate flexibility should be applied under the current emergency.  Therefore the Care Inspectorate and the SSSC can confirm that employers should continue to request PVG checks and references, but that employers no longer need to wait for these to be returned satisfactorily before deploying individuals to regulated roles directly supporting and caring for people.  Disclosure Scotland will be prioritising PVG checks, but the UK Coronavirus Bill means that organisations recruiting staff ahead of a PVG check can do so without the risk of committing an offence. Barred individuals who seek to exploit this will be reported to Police Scotland.

Providers of registered services should insist that any new staff or volunteers, whether redeployed or new to a caring role, complete an application form.  This must include a self-declaration regarding any relevant health, regulatory or criminal history, as well as previous experience and qualifications.  Providers should then carry out a risk assessment to determine the most appropriate deployment of individuals and ensure that knowledge, skills and experience are spread most effectively in order to meet the needs of people in the service.  While continuity of care is important for people, reallocating roles and deploying workers to front-line and auxiliary positions is expected to be a dynamic process that will impact on the care and support people receive.  

Significant disruption to staffing is expected during the pandemic and services are best placed to make decisions regarding optimum recruitment and deployment in a rapidly changing situation.  The Care Inspectorate and the SSSC will support providers and staff to operate flexibly and realistically under these circumstances.

Further information is available on SSSC website.

Our chief executive issued a statement on 17 March 2020 on how the Care Inspectorate is responding through our contingency planning to the coronavirus COVID-19 situation.

 

Visitors to people who use services

Should care homes be restricting visitors?

Care homes should be reducing visitors to the home apart from essential visits and might need to consider visits from appropriate health and care staff as essential. Thought should be given to having a named relative as contact. There needs to be flexibility where appropriate such as in end of life settings and where residents are affected it will be appropriate for visitors to don PPE in order to be able to spend time with them. It would also be reasonable to ask visitors for symptoms on arrival and to ask symptomatic people to stay away. As with previous experiences it may be wise to exclude visits from children as potential carriers of infection. Please refer to the guidance provided by Health Protection Scotland.

NHS Nation Services Scotland (NSS) has set a helpline to deal with social care supplies during COVID-19.   

At the moment, this helpline is to be used only in cases where there is an urgent supply shortage and a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19. This will be reviewed regularly in the coming days and weeks. 

The following contact details will direct providers to the NHS NSS triage centre for social care:

  • phone: 0300 303 3020 

When contacting the helpline, providers will be required to:

  • answer a series of short screening questions 
  • confirm they have fully explored business as usual procurement routes
  • confirm they have a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 and therefore have a need for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
  • provide their Care Inspectorate registration number.

The helpline will be open 8am – 8pm, 7 days a week.

What about people supported in their own homes – sharing with one or more other person? Should we be restricting visitors here? How do we do this in people’s own homes?

Where people receive care at home providers should discuss with people their own situation, and the need to protect themselves, by providing them with relevant information and links to current guidance. The provider cannot stop people living in their own homes having contact with other people. Staff supporting people in their own homes should follow good infection control guidance and Health Protection Scotland guidance. Where people share a home, the provider should advise that when washing their hands, they use liquid soap or not to share a bar of soap, use a paper hand towel or have their own towel and not use shared hand towels.

If one person in the house self isolates, then all members of the house should self-isolate in line with government guidance. If people are advised to self-isolate, further guidance can be found here.

Our nursery has a planned visit to a local care home as part of our intergenerational project, should we cancel the visit?

Yes these visits should be postponed. You may wish to consider different approaches to keep the children and the older people connected during this time. You might want to send videos or write letters to keep each other up to date with your activities.

Should we be asking visitors to disclose if they have had any cold, flu, coughs or, for instance, if they have travelled to affected regions?

It would be reasonable to ask these questions to inform your risk assessment and to have clear guidance for visitors displaying this and sending to people. Please refer to the Scottish Government’s clinical guidance for more information.


Care Homes and Care at Home

Should we suspend any new admissions, including those to intermediate care beds?

It is important we continue to provide care for older people in care homes and allow people to move out of hospital. This will allow the hospitals to be utilised to support people with coronavirus COVID-19 who need hospital treatment. However, this decision is one for each provider or service and they should follow normal infection control guidelines and check Health Protection Scotland’s guidelines.

Is it okay for people to be eating in the communal dining rooms?

If people are well, this should still be available to them. If people are symptomatic with cold or flu symptoms, then alternative arrangements would be made with reference to your current practice during ‘flu season’.

Health Protection Scotland advice states that people with symptoms potentially should be restricted to their room where possible, still supported by staff. This may be difficult in care services and staff need to assess the risk and put arrangements in place. Some care homes have identified units in the home for caring for people with symptoms.

Care homes should consider current guidance on the principle of social distancing which is two metres. This may include staggering mealtimes to reduce number of people eating in the dining room at any given time or encouraging people to eat in their rooms. Staggering the times of meals will allow staff to provide individual support to people in their rooms.

If the advice is to self-isolate, this may be difficult for individuals in a care home or supported in a shared domestic home to understand and adhere to. What do we do to safeguard the person, others who live there and staff?

Try and minimise the size of groups, encourage people to limit where they walk and areas they use. Increase cleaning frequency of frequently touched surfaces.

Where people are supported in their own homes, how do we ensure the safety of staff and of other people who use the service that staff are going on to visit?

You should follow standard infection prevention measures. Staff should already be aware of and implementing standard infection control measures. Further guidance is available from Health Protection Scotland.

 

Childminders

As a childminder, do I need to change my hand washing practice during the outbreak?

We are supporting Health Protection Scotland to get the message out about good hand hygiene as the most important aspect of preventing the spread of infection. Resources to use with children are available within the guidance for educational settings.

It is important to supervise children appropriately to ensure they are adopting good practice. Most children really enjoy singing songs as a guide for how long to keep scrubbing for 15 – 20 seconds.

There is also a range of resources available for children from the NHS:

We recommend that you follow the guidance and use paper towels during this time. Where this is not possible, we ask that you provide individual towels for children and increase the frequency of laundering towels to minimise the risk of spreading infection.

You can also refer to the Infection Prevention and Control in Childcare Settings (Day Care and Childminding Settings) guidance for good practice around hygiene.

Lots of children have coughs and colds around this time of year. How will I know if they should be excluded because they could have the virus?

We understand the anxiety around coughs and colds at the moment. Good infection control procedures are essential to limiting the spread of infection. Children who are unwell should not be in nursery, in line with usual procedures. Information from Health Protection Scotland states that the virus presents as a fever, and cough. Where children have these symptoms, the advice should be to stay at home.  You can access information from NHS Inform about when to stay at home and how long for.

What if a child attending my service is confirmed as having the virus, can I tell the other parents?

You should not breach confidentiality of your families without express consent.  Where there is a confirmed case the local health protection team will want to contact any close contacts of the children. This may include staff or the childminder and any assistants. Dependent upon individual situations, family members may also be included. You will be guided by your local health protection team who are well prepared to support this type of situation.

We have children attending our service who have underlying health conditions, how do we ensure they are protected?

Following good practice in relation to infection prevention and hand hygiene are key to ensuring all children’s wellbeing. We understand the concern that providers have about the children attending their services, particularly young babies and those with underlying health conditions. Health Protection Scotland recommend that these children do not attend services. If you have any queries about specific children we would encourage you to discuss this with their parents in the first instance and direct them to the NHS inform advice.

Our service provides care to staff from frontline medical or emergency services, will we get special dispensation to stay open should the government decide to close schools and childcare?

The Scottish Government has published guidance for childminding services

The Scottish Government has also published guidance setting out what childcare and learning provision we expect to be made available to key workers during closures of school and early learning and childcare (ELC) settings.

 

 

Confirmed coronavirus COVID-19 tests

What should we do if someone has tested positive or has symptoms consistent with coronavirus COVID-19?

What should we do if the person requires support, for instance medication, meal preparation or personal care?

Staff should follow good infection control guidance and put in place the guidance from Health Protection Scotland.

You will also find further guidance and information from Health protection Scotland here.

NHS Inform provide guidance on self-isolation. You can read this here.