At NACCOM we have looked carefully at the advice relating to the coronavirus (Covid-19) that is already in the public domain and want where possible to signpost you to the most appropriate sources of general advice available, while at the same time drawing some specific points together relating to accommodation projects.
The general Government advice for anyone in any setting is to follow these main guidelines.
- If you have been in contact with someone with coronavirus or have returned from an affected area identified by the Chief Medical Officer as high risk and you are feeling unwell with a cough, difficulty breathing or fever, stay at home and use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service or call NHS 111.
- Wash your hands more often than usual, for 20 seconds using soap and hot water, particularly after coughing, sneezing and blowing your nose, or after being in public areas where other people are doing so. Use hand sanitiser if that’s all you have access to.
- To reduce the spread of germs when you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue, or your sleeve (not your hands) if you don’t have a tissue, and throw the tissue away immediately. Then wash your hands or use a hand sanitising gel.
- Clean and disinfect regularly touched objects and surfaces using your regular cleaning products to reduce the risk of passing the infection on to other people.
The Governments www.gov.uk website has comprehensive advice and guidance including posters and leaflets on topics such as Infection prevention and control; self-isolation, decontamination and advice for people who live in the same accommodation as those infected. >>>Guidance leaflets and posters<<<
The National Health Service has provided specific advice for charities on the Virus, its treatment, do’s and don’ts at NHS Advice.
The National Council of Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) have collated comprehensive guidance on what steps that you may need to take regarding topics such as:
- The best way to prevent the spread of the virus?
- What do you need to do to protect staff, volunteers and visitors?
- Should your employees take sick leave?
- Should you cancel your events?
- How can you support your beneficiaries/service users?
- How you can develop a contingency plan?
Shared House Projects
There is a lot that can be done in advance of someone having to self-isolate due to infection or because test results are not in yet. Where members have shared houses undertake the following:
- Supply tissues, disinfectant/cleaning items, paracetamol, waste disposal bags to each resident.
- Put up signs giving advice in English and the languages of those living in the house if you have them.
- Speak with guests/tenants to reassure and brief them on the support that will be provided should they or others in the house be asked to self-isolate.
What if someone becomes infected or is asked to self-isolate?
- Once a person, who lives in a shared house has been confirmed as having the “virus” or has been advised to self-isolate because of showing signs or symptoms of the virus, the best advice appears to be to put the house on lock down and advise all who live in the house to follow the guidance on self-isolation.
- If a house has more than one bathroom/toilet it is recommended that one is designated for the sole use of those affected/in isolation.
- There would be a need to ensure that those living in a shared house had sufficient food provisions including, tissues, disinfectant/cleaning items, paracetamol, waste disposal bags etc. This might entail delivering shopping to the front door and phoning them to say that a delivery is being made.
- Guests/tenants will be anxious and communication with them may be difficult due to language. It is important that regular communication takes place by phone ideally by someone who speaks their language on a daily basis.
- You may need to organise a rota for cooking in a shared house and give specific instructions regarding personal hygiene and the cleaning of shared spaces such as the kitchen and bathroom after use.
Much of the advice given for housing projects applies to hosting projects. Although each project will need to consult with it’s hosts and determine how to proceed with the management of placements and what to do if either a host or guest becomes infected or is asked to self-isolate.
Our member Refugee’s at Home have produced the following guidance which will be helpful for other hosting projects. Refugees At Home Coronavirus Update
For our members running night shelters and hostels in addition to all the general advice given above please see also the advice produced by Housing Justice Housing Justice advice for Night Shelters.
We have adapted some guidance provided by Mears Group, one of the Home Office accommodation providers, for those living in shared accommodation, which is available in 12 languages. You can access this via the NACCOM members’ library.. If you have problems accessing the members’ area of the website please get in touch with Paul Catterall, NACCOM’s Network Development Worker.
Each member project is advised to draw up their own contingency plans to best serve and protect the wellbeing of staff, volunteers, beneficiaries and wider members of the public should individuals become infected or are asked to self-isolate during testing.
Contingency plans will need to be drawn up in accordance with Government guidelines and may have to change as Government guidelines change over the course of this outbreak.
If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact Paul Catterall, NACCOM’s Network Development Worker.