Rising COVID rates – What can providers do now? | QCS

Rising COVID rates – What can providers do now?

Dementia Care
July 5, 2022

QCS Policy Manager, Alison Lowerson, offers some top tips to help care providers that may be concerned with the recent rise in COVID-19 numbers.

As the number of people testing positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to rise across the UK, QCS is signposting customers to essential guidance and policies on infection control and other useful resources.

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), although a high percentage of adults in the UK are estimated to have coronavirus (COVID-19) antibodies, the approximate number of people testing positive for COVID-19 in the UK, around 4% of the population on 29 June 2022, was:

England            1 in 30 people

Scotland           1 in 18 people

Wales               1 in 30 people

Even though deaths involving COVID-19 have fallen slightly in England and Wales, the number of deaths in the week ending 17 June 2022 was above the five-year average in private homes, hospitals and care homes, but slightly below in other settings.

The increase is being driven by two new fast-spreading sub-variants of Omicron – called BA.4 and BA.5.

CQC infection control tool for care homes

Less than 2 weeks ago the CQC updated the Infection prevention and control information gathering tool for care homes in response to the recent review of national COVID-19 infection prevention and control guidance by the Department of Health and Social Care. It is the same format as the existing tool, but the content has been broadened to consider transmissible community infections more generally and move away from a focus on COVID-19.

This tool will help providers to collate relevant information to provide assurance that a service has appropriate infection prevention and control measures in place and, although the following questions are aimed at care homes, the CQC plans to adapt them to other types of service:

  1. Are all types of visitors prevented from catching and spreading infection?
  2. How are people supported to use and access their environment safely?
  3. Are people admitted into the service safely?
  4. Does the service use PPE effectively to safeguard staff and people using services?
  5. How does the service respond to people with symptoms of transmissible infections?
  6. Does the layout of premises, use of space and hygiene practice promote safety?
  7. Do staff training, practices and deployment show the service can prevent transmission of infection and manage outbreaks?

Staff and people using the service must be able to access COVID-19 testing in accordance with current national guidance, and staff must know how to meet relevant recommendations (testing and isolation) if there is a confirmed COVID-19 infection. This is particularly important when community infection rates are high and risks of infection transmission and exposure increase.

Face masks, although not mandatory, should be worn by care workers and encouraged for visitors in care settings to help prevent the spread of infection. This should happen whether a person in your care is known to have COVID-19 or not. Providers may also find it useful to check infection rates in their area. The government provides an interactive map of cases to assist with this.

Also, risk assessments must be carried out and regularly reviewed on people using services and staff belonging to higher risk groups, including people with severe or multiple learning disabilities, and actions taken to reduce the risks. Support must be provided for staff to access recommended vaccinations, particularly with Autumn COVID-19 boosters coming soon.

Information on infection prevention and control in supported living services and Extra Care housing can be found on the CQC website.

The following policies at QCS will support providers to continue to protect staff and people living in care homes with effective infection prevention and control (IPC):

  • Infection Control Policy and Procedure
  • COVID-19 Testing Policy and Procedure
  • Assessing and Reducing Risk to Workforce (COVID-19) Policy and Procedure
  • Coronavirus Policy and Procedure
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Policy and Procedure
  • Outbreak Management Policy

Useful resources