With COVID cases rising, health and safety in the workplace was more important than ever. As a vital home care provider, making more than 60,000 home visits each week, both our patients and staff rely on us when it comes to the health and safety of patients and staff.
With well over 1.5 million completed care visits since March, I can count on two hands the number of our frontline workers infected with COVID and all have happily recovered.
This low caseload is no accident, but the result of careful implementation of best-in-class infection prevention and control (IPAC) practices combined with the non-communal environment of a private home.
We apply the same rigor to ensure the safety of our office workers and while some of our corporate employees continue to work remotely, our branch offices are the nerve centers for the delivery of care services. The vast majority of these staff have been in the office since the first wave, ensuring we are helping our patients and their families with equal urgency and empathy.
And as demand for home care increases in Wave 2, our coordinators continue to work together to find capacity and ensure seamless care delivery.
Leaders from many other industries outside of healthcare – manufacturing, professional services, agriculture – have reached out to us for support in keeping their own workforce safe during these complex and challenging times.
And while every workplace environment is unique and should be evaluated for specific protocols, there are a handful of measures we’ve always recommended to maintain an environment that can support best-in-class infection prevention and control practices, such as: B. Conducting drug tests specific to your state, such as Health Street’s drug tests in Indiana.
1. Communication with your employees should be consistent, comprehensive and detailed. There is no excessive communication, especially when some or all of your employees are in remote environments. Our employees receive a deluge of TV and Twitter news updates, and sometimes it’s difficult to decipher the most critical news. Even if you think you communicate a lot, I challenge you to find creative ways to expand and simplify the content that matters most to your employees.
2. Responsibility for infection prevention protocols should be clear. These individuals or teams need to stay current on the public health recommendations for the business locations where they operate – but should also keep current on international approaches. Don’t be afraid to bring in third-party experts if needed – not everyone has an IPAC specialist on their team!
3. Lead with transparency – and “just the facts”. These are times of unknowns and what-ifs… Say what you know, but also what you don’t know. Our team recently completed a Lessons Learned exercise from Wave 1 to ensure we are as prepared as possible for Wave 2. These operational plans are living documents – be aware to strengthen these plans as you gain more knowledge.
4. Have a solid pandemic plan A, but then have a plan B, followed by plan C. Anticipate how your pandemic plan will address major issues or outcomes when possible, but be prepared to pivot and change as new or unexpected situations arise. We all learn at the same time!
5. Be available and respond promptly to any employee concerns. Instill confidence in your employees by addressing their feedback quickly—no matter how simple or complex. And make sure they know you have a robust supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect them in the months to come.
And my last shameless plug to protecting your employees — Encourage them to get their flu shots this year (even if that means setting up your own office flu clinic to show how much you care !).
And if you’re in Canada, don’t forget to download the COVID Alert app! We really are all in this together.
Protect the health and safety of your employees.