Using agency staff Guidance – COVID-19

Care homes are being asked wherever possible to ensure permanent and agency staff are working in one setting. Ideally, health care staff supporting suspected or confirmed cases of Covid-19 should not be caring for other patients. While we completely appreciate this is easier said than done, we have put together some information from the government, skills for care and CQC to help you protect staff and customers.

It is important to have open and honest conversations with these staff to ensure they are not putting themselves, or anyone they are supporting, at risk.

  • In larger homes, where possible, rota staff to the same areas/wards of the home.
  • Regularly check in with your staff to ensure they are not displaying any symptoms of Covid-19. Any staff with symptoms should not be at work.
  • Any staff who are deemed high risk should have a risk assessment completed.
  • All staff should be up to date with Health and Safety and Infection Control training.
  • Try to ensure staff working with suspected or confirmed Covid-19 residents do not work with residents not displaying symptoms. This will help prevent the risk of spreading Covid-19.
  • Remind staff of infection control with preventative measures such as washing hands, when to wear PPE and how to safely put on PPE. We have attached government issued posters to display around your home.

With an increase in staff absence and residents having additional needs, many homes are needing to use agency to help support their workforce. Good agencies should be aiming to send the same care assistants to you as regularly as possible, this helps with continuity of care. Make sure you speak to the agency you are using to ensure they are sending the same staff wherever possible.

Ensure you rota your staff a few weeks in advance, so you can identify gaps early and block book with agencies. Booking in advance means you can request the same care assistants over a longer period.

Different agencies have different policies around cancellation, with some allowing you to cancel with no charge 48 hours or 24 before the shift. This would enable you to book in advance and air on the side of caution and cancel nearer the time.

Many agencies have the ability to adjust the rates you pay. Often the more you book in advance the lower the rate you pay. Make sure you speak to your agency to ensure you are getting the best rate they can offer.

Agency cover does not always need to be last minute. You can book care assistants for weeks or even months at a time. This can be cost effective, but it also gives you peace of mind that you can get the same care assistant over a longer period of time.

Whenever you have an agency care assistant come to your care home, they should have a brief induction to the home and an introduction to where and who they will be working with. Use this time to go through your PPE process to ensure they are working to your standards while in your home.

While agencies should be in regular contact with their staff, you should always check when they arrive if they have had any symptoms. This can help avoid putting any residents at risk.