Measures to prevent coronavirus infections in social welfare units providing 24-hour care

Ministry of Social Affairs and Health 3.4.2020 15.50
Press release 81/2020

In the coronavirus situation, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health urges the municipalities and social welfare units to pay special attention to appropriate action and prevention of the coronavirus in housing service units providing 24-hour care.

To prevent the spread of the coronavirus, residents must not be moved from a place of care or housing unit to another one during the epidemic, unless this is absolutely necessary to ensure their care. Care must always be provided if necessary on medical grounds. 

The situation of the residents, especially new residents coming to the unit, must be followed very closely. Action must be taken immediately if any respiratory infection symptoms appear. 

It is particularly important that a resident who is showing symptoms will not be moved. Moving of asymptomatic residents should also be avoided because, according to current knowledge, the infection may be communicated even by asymptomatic persons.

Residents showing symptoms should, whenever possible, be placed in single rooms and in the same department. Residents showing symptoms and asymptomatic residents must not be treated in the same room.

Care plans to be updated

To enable housing units for 24-hour care to provide the required high-quality care, all patients and/or residents in long-term care or covered by treatment services must have an appropriate care plan that is also up-to-date.

Employer responsible for necessary knowledge and skills and for communication

The use of common facilities should be restricted if any of the residents are showing symptoms. Cleaning and disinfection of the premises is a high priority. 

Staff turnover should be minimised to reduce the risk of infections. Employees should not work in more than one unit.

The employer must make sure that the staff has the necessary knowledge and skills on practices to prevent and combat infections. They must also be able to recognise the symptoms of respiratory infections and to react in an appropriate manner if such symptoms appear.

The employer must also make sure that each unit has a contact person (e.g. hygiene contact person) to manage the exchange of information with the local health authority and regional experts on infections.

Communication concerning a unit providing 24-hour care must be ongoing and open. The residents and their families as well as the staff must have access to up-to-date information on the situation in the units with respect to the coronavirus and the measures this has required or will require.

Guidelines for handling the deceased in the coronavirus situation

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare has issued guidelines for handling of the deceased in the case of confirmed or suspected COVID-19 infections. The guidelines are to be followed in the healthcare and social welfare units, service units providing long-term care and treatment for older people and people with disabilities, in funeral homes, and in tasks related to establishing the cause of death by the police.

Situation of social welfare units monitored

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health monitors the coronavirus situation on the national level, development of the situation in different regions, and measures taken to prepare for the coronavirus. This also includes the gathering of information on the numbers of persons in social welfare units who have been infected with the virus or who have died. 

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health has already issued several guidelines on measures to be taken in different types of healthcare and social welfare units. Now the ministry is drafting even more detailed guidelines to municipalities and joint municipal authorities on how the coronavirus situation should be taken into account in housing service units providing 24-hour care. The guidelines will be available by Easter.

The official guidelines and decisions issued by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health are available on the ministry’s website.

Inquiries:

Satu Karppanen, Ministerial Adviser, [email protected]
Kirsi Kaikko, Senior Specialist, [email protected]