Protecting Yourself From Infection: COVID-19

As a care worker, staying on top of your own health and safety is a vital part of being able to provide care for others.

Viruses and infections are not only a hazard to your health, but also to the health of those around you. Below is up-to-date, evidence-based information on the COVID-19 coronavirus and how you and your loved ones can stay healthy.


We’re urgently asking individuals and organizations to donate any spare personal protective equipment, specifically gloves, masks, gowns, eye protection, hand sanitizer, and medical-grade disinfectant wipes.

SafeCare BC is working with the Ministry of Health to distribute this equipment to health care workers in long-term care, home care and community health support, and assisted living. These workers are on the front-line of the COVID-19 pandemic, and they need our support today.


The Latest News


As of April 1:

  • There have been 1,066 cases of the coronavirus in BC. 606 of these cases have made a complete recovery.
  • The vast majority of COVID-19 cases are mild; however, the elderly or those with underlying health conditions are at higher risk of experiencing complications from COVID-19.

Symptoms Self-Assessment Tool: the BC Ministry of Health has developed a tool to help determine if you need further assessment or testing for COVID-19. You can complete this on behalf of yourself or another person. Access the tool here: https://covid19.thrive.health/


COVID-19

Questions? Ask us.


Have a question about the coronavirus? Use this form to ask.

COVID-19 Questions


What is COVID-19? What is the Coronavirus?


As stated by the World Health Organization, Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses which may cause illness in animals or humans. In humans, several coronaviruses are known to cause respiratory infections ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The most recently discovered of these viruses causes COVID-19.


What is the risk?


The virus is transmitted through droplets of moisture – such as coughing, sneezing. There is no evidence to-date of any airborne transmission.


How can I protect myself?


The following are things everyone should do:

  • Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds using soap and water.
  • Use alcohol-based hand rubs to clean hands if they are not visibly soiled.
  • Do not touch your face,eyes or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough with a disposable tissue or the crease of your elbow.
  • Avoid non-essential international travel.
  • Stay at home when you are sick.

What you need to know—see below


Long-Term Care (click to learn more)

I work in a care home



I am a visitor to a care home


  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use an alcohol-based hand rub, when entering and leaving a care home, and before and after providing direct support to your loved one.
  • If you have travelled internationally, self-isolate for 14 days. Self-monitor for symptoms. The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, tiredness, and dry cough. Some people with the virus may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea  (World Health Organization).
  • At the first sign of any illness, DO NOT visit a care home. Ask the care home if there are other ways you can still connect with your loved one, whether online or by phone.
  • Consider delaying your visit or finding other ways to stay in touch that don’t involve you visiting in person.
  • If you are visiting, do not go into communal areas.
  • If you have a fever, dry cough, or difficult breathing, contact Health Link BC at 811 before visiting your doctor’s office or hospital Emergency.
  • If required by the care home during your visit, wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Instructions on wearing appropriate PPE will be provided by the care home.
  • Visit the BC Centre for Disease Control for more information.

I am a manager


  • Have surveillance mechanisms in place to catch potential cases early. Ensure this takes into account staff, volunteers, visitors, contractors and residents. Long-term care homes should follow routine precautions, as well as contact and droplet precautions when providing care to any person under investigation for COVID-19.
  • Ensure ALL staff and volunteers are properly trained in infection prevention and control practices, and that they follow these practices. Have refreshers, so people feel comfortable knowing the protocols.This includes maintenance, food service, administration and other support workers.
  • Ensure appropriate stock of:
    • disinfectants and cleaners
    • personal protective equipment (including gowns, gloves, masks)
    • if you are in imminent danger of running out of supplies, please fill in this form online.
  • Ensure that you are aware of personal protective equipment guidelines for Long-Term Care.
  • Ensure that workers are trained in the use of PPE and have been fit-tested for the N95 respirator if required.
  • Display signage that encourages all staff and visitors to wash their hands when entering and leaving your care home, and actively screen visitors.
  • Take enhanced precautions to discourage visitors from entering your care home if they are feeling unwell, especially if they are showing signs of an acute respiratory infection, such as fever, dry cough and shortness of breath.
  • While it may be challenging for staff scheduling, don’t encourage workers to come to work if they are unwell. Similarly, any staff who have travelled internationally should not report to work for 14 days upon their return to Canada.
  • If any visitor reports symptoms of being unwell, including fever, dry cough, or difficulty breathing, support your staff in asking them to leave the care home.
  • Support your staff if they identify unsafe situations and respond to those concerns
  • Postpone or cancel community gatherings at your care home.
  • Discourage visitors from visiting in or using communal areas.
  • Encourage visitors to either delay their visit, or find other ways of staying in touch with their loved ones that do not involve visiting in-person. Where in-person visits do happen, encourage those visiting to limit the number of people coming into the care home.

Home Care & Community Support (click to learn more)


I am a home and community support worker


  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use an alcohol-based hand rub, when entering and leaving a client’s home, and before and after contact with the client or their belongings.
  • Know how to properly put on and take off personal protective equipment, such as gloves, surgical masks, eye protection, and gowns. If you need a refresher or more information, ask your manager.
  • Preferably in advance of visiting, ask the client if they have new or worsening shortness of breath, cough or fever, fatigue, sore throat, runny nose, muscle aches, or if anyone in their household has been sick recently.
  • Ask if the client or a client’s family member has recently travelled to, or had contact, with someone who has travelled internationally.
  • If any of the above are suspected, call your supervisor and ask for direction.
  • If you have travelled internationally, you should self-isolate for 14 days. You should self-monitor for symptoms. The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, tiredness, and dry cough. Some people with the virus may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhoea  (World Health Organization).
  • At the first sign of any illness, you should NOT visit a client’s home.
  • If you have a fever, dry cough, or difficult breathing, contact Health Link BC at 811 before visiting your doctor’s office or hospital Emergency.
  • Visit the BC Centre for Disease Control for more information.

I receive home support


  • Wash your hands with soap and water regularly for at least 20 seconds, or use an alcohol-based hand rub
  • If you have new or worsening shortness of breath, cough or fever, fatigue, sore throat, runny nose, or muscle aches, or someone in your household is sick, contact your home support worker in advance of their visit, so they are prepared.
  • If you have a household member who has recently travelled to or had contact with someone who has travelled internationally, let your home support worker know.
  • If you have travelled internationally, self-isolate for 14 days. Self-monitor for symptoms. The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, tiredness, and dry cough. Some people with the virus may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea  (World Health Organization).
  • If someone in your household is sick, have them stay in a separate room away from where care is being provided by your support worker. If that’s not possible, have the member of your household wear a mask for the duration of the visit and have them wash their hands.

I am a Manager


  • Have surveillance mechanisms in place to catch potential cases early. Ensure this takes into account staff, members of clients’ households and clients.
  • Ensure staff are properly trained in infection prevention and control practices. Have refreshers, so staff feel comfortable knowing the protocols.
  • Preferably in advance of their visit, encourage your home support workers to ask the client if they have new or worsening shortness of breath, cough or fever, fatigue, sore throat, runny nose, muscle aches, if anyone in their household is currently sick, or if anyone has travelled internationally recently. If they answer yes to any of these questions, have your staff contact you for further direction.
  • Ensure clients and their family members are aware of your organization’s policies and practices around infection prevention and control.
  • Support your staff if they identify unsafe situations and respond to those concerns.
  • While it may be challenging for staff scheduling, don’t encourage workers to come to work if they are unwell.
  • Ensure staff have the necessary training and equipment to stay safe and healthy.
  • If staff members have travelled internationally, communicate that they must self-isolate for 14 days upon their return and monitor themselves for symptoms, and that they should not report to work.
  • Ensure that you are aware of personal protective equipment guidelines for Home Care.

Additional Resources


Regular updates about COVID-19:

World Health Organization resources on COVID-19

BC Centre for Disease Control:

Public Health Agency of Canada:

WorkSafeBC:

COVID-19 Symptoms Self-Assessment Tool:

Hand-washing practices:

General information on protective equipment:

Fit testing:

Posters:


Staying Psychologically Healthy


Your mental health is as important as your physical health. Feeling stressed and anxious is a normal response to difficult situations. We know that care workers work in a challenging and demanding environment; with the COVID-19 virus people may be feeling a heightened anxiety. If you, or a co-worker, is finding it difficult to manage that stress, we encourage you to ask for help. Together, we will overcome the challenges we face today.

What can you do if you’re feeling stressed?

  • Talk to your supervisor about resources that may be available to you.
  • Share your feelings with a friend or co-worker.
  • If available, access your Employee and Family Assistance Program
  • Utilize resources from the Canadian Mental Health Association
  • Check out the resources at www.safecarebc.ca

Mobile Resources:

Text4Hope – This free daily text service was developed by Alberta Health Services to help users gain coping skills during the COVID19 pandemic. Each day you will receive a free message with helpful tips and tricks for improving your coping skills. To join, text COVID19HOPE to 393939.

Text4Mood – This free 6-month program sends you a daily positive and inspirational text message to support positive mental health in persons who have self-reported depression or anxiety. This service was developed by Alberta Health Services and is not specific to COVID19. To join, text Mood to 760-670-3130.

Bear in Mind – This game is a fun and educational way for workers to learn real-life skills that can improve their well-being at home and on the job. Create your own character and take them through a day in the life of a care worker. Each scenario is a learning experience with multiple outcomes — How you respond to these situations is up to you. Download the free app to your Apple or Android mobile devices.

Calm – Consider this app or another free mindfulness app if you’re interested in introducing meditation practices to your current routine. Mindfulness practices can be a great way to combat stress. This app includes guided meditation sessions of various lengths to suit your schedule and sleep stories to help you fall asleep. Download the free app to your Apple or Android mobile devices.

Online Resources:

Supporting the Psychosocial Well-being of Health Care Providers During the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic by the BC Centre for Disease Control and the BC Ministry of Health

Coping with Coronavirus (COVID-19) by Anxiety Canada

6 tips to respond to employee anxiety about COVID-19 by Canadian Mental Health Association

COVID 19 – Anxiety Coping Strategies by SafeCare BC

Free Online Workshop Options:

21 Days of Self-Care – Take some time every day for 21 days to do something for yourself in support of positive mental health. Submit your email address to join the free 21-day challenge hosted by Dr. Joti Samra. The challenge begins on April 1st, 2020.

Enhancing Psychological Health, Wellness, and Resilience – This workshop is free during COVID-19 and addresses stress, burnout, compassion fatigue, trauma, and moral distress – issues that often affect those working in the continuing care sector. This self-paced online course is completed in an average of six hours. To access this free workshop, please visit SafeCare BC’s Learning Space.

Mental Health: Psychologically Healthy Workplaces – This workshop is free during COVID-19 and examines best practices in developing a psychologically healthy workplace for employees. Average completion time is one hour. To access this free workshop, please visit SafeCare BC’s Learning Space.

Office Ergonomics – This workshop is free during COVID19 and includes information on ergonomic strategies and how to adjust office furniture and computer equipment for maximum comfort and benefit. Average completion time is one hour. To access this free workshop, please visit SafeCare BC’s Learning Space.

BounceBack® – This cognitive behavioural therapy program was developed by the Canadian Mental Health Association and requires a referral to begin. This program uses a combination of individual activities completed on your own time and phone calls with a trained coach to guide you through the process.

BounceBack® Online – This cognitive behavioural therapy program was developed by the Canadian Mental Health Association. This modified version of the curriculum does not require a referral and includes access to 9 cognitive behavioural therapy-based online modules to complete at your leisure.

Free Videos:

Managing Anxiety Around Coronavirus – These YouTube videos were created by MyWorkplaceHealth and include topics such as speaking with children about coronavirus, managing anxiety, and coping with panic.

 

Resources up-to-date as of  March 31, 2020.