- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – how to don and doff and correct disposal methods
- Infection control, hand hygiene and cleaning considerations
- Exercise for Mental Health
- “Conscious Attention” and Mindfulness
To be able to care for our clients, you have to put you first. That means that you need to know about donning and doffing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) correctly, practice physical distancing wherever you’re able; hand hygiene; infection control and other measures we have put in place to look after each other and our clients.
We have your back.
You should have all received our COVID-19 plan in your email the other day. This is a really comprehensive document that outlines our recommendations for practice and safety measures while caring for clients during this pandemic.
In this newsletter, we’ll talk about PPE: what changes have been made for the disability sector, how to correctly put it on and take it off, dispose of it, and other infection prevention control measures.
We’ve all been working hard to keep our team and clients safe. This includes the work of volunteers who have taken upon the task of making three layered reusable cloth masks based on DHHS recommendations for the design of masks. See the image to the right. Aren’t they just lovely? Thank you volunteers!
Exercise for our Mental Health
Exercise – we all know it’s good for us, but at the moment, sometimes it can feel impossible.
But the fact is, even a small amount of exercise can have a positive impact on our energy levels throughout the day, increase productivity, improve our sleep and clarity, help us have sharper memories, and provide us with a sense of relaxation and positivity.
Now more than ever is a good time to make a plan to fit that purposeful exercise into your day! The Black Dog Institute has put a fact sheet together to help kick start you in the right direction. It covers the importance of exercise for health care workers during COVID-19, challenges related to COVID-19, tips for safely exercising during COVID-19 and (most importantly!) overcoming barriers to exercising.
Your “Conscious Attention”
Conscious attention is the part of your attention that makes up conscious awareness. That is, the contents of attention that we can access to report on.
One of the greatest challenges to conscious attention is something that all of us do on a regular basis. Multitasking.
When more things that ever are vying for our attention, multitasking is a way we can spread everything out so we don’t miss anything, right?
By multitasking, we are actually training ourselves to become distracted, and less mindful.
Multitasking behaviour actually raises our stress levels by raising cortisol (the stress hormone), resulting in impulsiveness, low self-control and poor decision making.
Similarly ‘task-switching’ – which is moving from one task to the next without any space in between (robot style) also inherently limits our conscious attention because it is forced to bounce from one thing to another. This can reduce our ability to be compassionate in our thinking because we are so focussed on getting things done and there is no time or space for anything else.
So what can we do about it? We can pay attention.
The practice of mindfulness is not a mystical way of being, rather than a practice of paying attention to the present moment on purpose with a non-judgemental attitude toward yourself. The present moment is where happiness begins and when we do this on purpose? We become less about our circumstances, and more about the choices we make.
This this TEDxNYU talk, Sam Chase asks you to pay attention, exploring what it means to be truly mindful and how everyone of us can incorporate the practice into our lives.
Next time you finish something, we challenge you to switch everything off and really pay attention – you might be surprised about what the present moment has to say.
Take care of you, look after each other and reach out for support if you need it.
Personal Protective Equipment – Changes and Considerations
Donning and doffing PPE is a critical process that requires significant care. PPE is used to create a barrier between the worker and any infectious agents (spread through airborne, contact or droplets) that they may come into contact with. The aim is to reduce the risk of touching, transmitting or being exposed to pathogens. Disability Support Workers are now mandated to wear a mask and goggles inside a client’s home.
Depending on the level of care you’re providing, you may also require other types of PPE to keep you and the client safe. But the order in which you don and doff the PPE remains the same.
- Perform hand hygiene
- Put on a gown (if necessary)
- Fully cover your torso from your neck to knees and your arms to the end of your wrists, then tie at the back.
- The gown should be large enough to allow for unrestricted movement without gaping.
- Fasten at the back of the neck and waist.
- Put on a mask (surgical or reusable)
- If your mask has ties, secure them at the middle of the head and neck
- If your mask has bands, secure them around your ears
- Fit the flexible band to the nose bridge
- Fit mask snug to face and below the chin
- Put on protective eye-wear
- Place over eyes and adjust to fit
- Put on gloves (if necessary)
- Extend the gloves to cover the wrist of the gown
If at any point your PPE becomes contaminated, you must dispose of it, perform hand hygeine and replace it.
If your PPE is disposable, place the waste bag in the outside rubbish disposal, and perform hand hygeine again.
- Remove your gloves in the room you’re providing care
- Using one hand, grasp the palm of the other hand and peel off the first glove.
- Hold the removed glove in the gloved hand.
- Slide fingers of the ungloved hand under the remaining glove at the wrist and peel it off over the first glove.
- Discard gloves in a waste container.
- Perform hand hygiene
- Remove gown in the room you’re providing care
- Unfasten the ties, ensuring the sleeves don’t make contact with your body.
- Pull the gown away from your neck and shoulders, touching the inside only.
- Turn the gown inside out.
- Fold or roll the gown into a bundle, and discard in a waste container.
- Perform hand hygiene
- Exit the room
- Remove goggles
- Remove from the back of the head by lifting the headband or ear piece.
- If reusable, clean the goggles
- Perform hand hygiene
- Remove mask
- Grasp the bottom ties/elastics, and remove without touching the front of the mask
- Discard in a waste container
- Immediately perform hand hygiene
In this video, Alison McMillan, Australia’s Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer describes the process of donning and doffing PPE and the techniques used.
Exceptions for Face Coverings
There are some exceptions for wearing face coverings while at work. These are
- If you have a physical or mental health condition or disability which makes wearing the face covering unsuitable.
- The visibility of your mouth is essential for communicating with the client.
- The nature of your work means that wearing a face covering creates a risk to your health and safety; or
- You are asked to remove the mask to ascertain your identity; or
- for emergency purposes.
We have purchased and are distributing reusable eye wear to staff as soon as we can resource them.
If you have any availability to purchase your own single use or three-layered cloth masks and reusable safety goggles, we really appreciate this: you can claim the expense back on your tax return
Cleaning and Infection Control
Cleaning is really important for infection control – particularly in work areas.
- Prepare all your cleaning needs immediately before you use them.
- Surfaces should be cleaned with a neutral detergent and warm water solution, rinsed and dried before and after each use or when visibly soiled. Spills should be cleaned up as soon as practicible.
- When a disinfectant is required for surface cleaning, the manufacturer’s recommendations for use are ALWAYS to be followed.
- Buckets should be emptied after use, washed with detergent and warm water, rinsed with hot water and stored dry, turned upside down.
- Mops should be cleaned in detergent and warm water, rinsed in hot water, then stored dry.
- Mop heads are best when they’re detachable so they can be put away, but you can store the mop with the head up too if this isn’t an option.
- If a mop has been used to clean up any blood or other body fluids, use PPE to clean with detergent and warm water – rinsed with hot water and stored dry.
We want to say thank you to ALL our support workers for their magnificent hard work and support over the last 6 months – for your flexibility and resilience.
We are so grateful for you all.
If you work with someone magnificent, who has gone above and beyond, or shown exceptional value, we’d love to hear about why you think they are. If you’d like to send a thank you to a team member of LCS, please let us know and we’ll have it published in our next newsletter.