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Public Health issues order for home and community care organizations

Photo by Georg Arthur Pflueger on Unsplash.

Update (Monday, Dec. 14, 2020): Today, Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington (KFL&A) Public Health issued a clarification regarding the Class Order for all owners and operators providing Community and Home Care Services.

This order covers organizations that provide services in client homes and are under contract to provide services to patients on behalf of Ontario Health or the South East Local Health Integration Network, Public Health clarified.

“Owners are required to enforce stronger infection prevention and control (IPAC) education and practices with staff who provide services to clients in the home. This may include such IPAC practices as screening, staying home and getting tested if symptomatic, frequent hand washing, and properly using personal protective equipment. Owners are also required to conduct regular IPAC audits and provide education to staff on how to correct any identified deficiencies. Records for education sessions, audits, and attestations from employees must be maintained and be available for submission to KFL&A Public Health as requested,” KFL&A Public Health said.

“Employees of these organizations requiring surveillance testing include those who provide personal care or those who have close personal contact with clients in the home. The risk of transmission of COVID-19 in these situations is based on close contact, closed spaces, and prolonged exposure.”

Original article:

Dr. Kieran Moore, Medical Officer of Health at KFL&A Public Health issued a Class Order to all owners and operators providing Community and Home Care Services in KFL&A today, Thursday, Dec. 10, 2020.

According to a release from KFL&A Public Health, pursuant to Section 22 of the Ontario Health Protection and Promotion Act, 1990 the Class Order will enforce the following requirements for owners and operators of home and community care organizations, :

  • To ensure staff are aware of and practicing appropriate infection prevention and control (IPAC) practices.
  • To conduct regular IPAC audits and provide education to ensure any deficiencies are corrected.
  • To recommend to clients and families of clients who are receiving services wear a face covering (or preferably a medical grade mask) while employees are in the home.
  • To ensure all staff providing services requiring close personal contact or personal care in the community and home care settings provide a negative COVID-19 test result to their employer every two weeks, regardless of symptoms. This is asymptomatic surveillance swabbing and individuals may continue working while awaiting their test results. More frequent surveillance testing will be required if community status level changes to Orange, Red, or Grey.
  • To maintain records of the education sessions, audits, and attestations for submission to KFL&A Public Health as requested.

“Enforcing stronger IPAC practices along with mandatory surveillance testing of staff working in community and home care settings are important measures that will continue to protect those most at risk for severe illness from COVID-19,” said Dr. Kieran Moore.  “This order will strengthen our ability to identify positive cases, reduce the risk of people contracting COVID-19, and preserve the capacity of our health care system to respond and provide care for those who need it.”

Previously, a provincial directive for long-term care home surveillance testing and access to homes was issued by the Minister of Long-Term Care pursuant to section 174.1 of the Long-Term Care Homes Act, 2007 that mandates regular surveillance testing for staff, students and volunteers that worked in long-term care homes. According to the release, this class order will add surveillance testing for community and home care settings.

Public Health says this class order is effective immediately on Thursday, Dec. 10, 2020 and will remain in effect until such time as the Medical Officer of Health determines it is no longer required. Operators and individuals who are not in compliance with this order can be charged and fined.

To learn more about COVID-19, how you can protect yourself and what to do if you suspect you may be at risk, visit www.Kflaph.ca/Coronavirus.

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