This afternoon [March 17] the care home team of the Ministry of Health held a Covid-19 preparedness meeting at the K. Margaret Carter Centre for all categories of care home staff.
A Government spokesperson said, “This afternoon the care home team of the Ministry of Health held a COVID-19 preparedness meeting at the K. Margaret Carter Centre for all categories of care home staff.
“At the meeting, co-presenters Ja-Mae Smith, Programme Manager of the Care Home Regulation Programme; and Rosheena Masters, Department of Health Long Term Care Quality Officer, discussed preparation strategies to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 [COVID-19] in Long Term Care Homes.
“COVID-19 is spreading globally and so far there have been no instances of COVID-19 community spread in Bermuda,” said Ms. Smith. “The general strategies which CDC and Bermuda’s Department of Health recommends to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Long Term Care Facilities are the same strategies used in care homes every day to detect and prevent the spread of other respiratory viruses like influenza. Seniors, persons with chronic disease and healthcare workers are at higher risk for illness from COVID-19 disease.”
“Ms. Smith stressed the need for care homes to be prepared, which included: developing an emergency plan for each facility [including if staff are absent from work], establishing relationships with key healthcare and public health partners and updating emergency contact lists.
“In addition, it was stressed that Long Term Care Facilities should communicate with their staff and residents about what is currently known about the care home’s preparedness plans. They should also discuss with the residents and their families any change in policies, providing non-urgent care by telephone and visitor policies.
“The meeting facilitators recommended that visits to Long Term Care Facilities by members of the public, at this point, should be restricted to end of life care visits only and that these visitors should be screened before they enter the facility. It was suggested that other means of communication should be explored to encourage connectedness during this time.
“Mrs. Masters stressed that prevention measures should also be taken to stop respiratory germs from entering the facilities and from spreading within the facilities. These include: encouraging sick employees to stay home, posting signs at the entrance describing visitor restrictions, and ensuring that sick leave policies allow employees to stay home if they have symptoms of respiratory infection.
“Finally, a recommendation was made that protocols for cleaning procedures, staff self-screening and visitor screening, hand and respiratory hygiene should be enhanced while daily staff and resident screening should be conducted. This guidance has also been provided on the Government of Bermuda’s website here: https://www.gov.bm/coronavirus
The Minister of Health Kim Wilson attended the meeting and said, “I would like to thank the care home team for their proactive and preventative actions to keep this vulnerable population safe. We do not want the public or Long Term Care Homes to panic, but to take these preventative measures to ensure the safety of our seniors and vulnerable.”
“For the latest updates on the COVID-19 visit: https://www.gov.bm/coronavirus.”