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By its very nature, rehabilitation puts you or your loved ones in close quarters with plenty of doctors, nurses, and other patients.
In the midst of the global pandemic of COVID-19 that we currently find ourselves in, ensuring the safety of rehabilitation patients and their families has become the foremost priority of medical facilities the world over.
Rehabilitation facilities are not immune to the threat that COVID-19 poses, and are beginning to take necessary precautions to ensure the safety of those in their care.
The steps that these facilities are taking may vary slightly from one facility to the next but they come together to form an effective infection control plan.
Patients will undergo an expanded screening process and may have to delay treatment if they are experiencing symptoms consistent with a COVID-19 infection.
Below, we outline the measure that has been put into practice at our partner drug and alcohol rehab clinics to help mitigate the risks of contracting coronavirus whilst in their care:
Strict Admissions Screening: Additional screening requirements are being implemented to ensure the safety of those in inpatient rehabilitation facilities. A series of screening questions will be asked of the referrers to ascertain the risk involved with bringing the patient into the facility. In addition to this, the referrer will be required to provide the current temperature of the patient and provide the results of any additional tests that may be requested. Once these tests have been completed to the satisfaction of the rehabilitation centre will the patient be allowed to be admitted. It will likely take several days before the facility can be sure that the patient will not expose others to the virus. If the evaluation of a patient suggests that they may have been exposed to the virus, it may be necessary to delay admittance of the patient until the safety of the others within the facility can be ensured. Once the patient arrives at the rehabilitation centre for admission, they will then be screened once again to ensure that there have been no changes in their situation. Their temperature will be taken, and alongside the answers provided to the centre, this will determine whether the patient will be admitted. If the patient exhibits symptoms of COVID-19, they will not be admitted at this time. Family and friends with the patient at the time of drop off will not be permitted to enter the premises and will return home once the drop-off has been completed
New Arrival Isolation: Facilities may have or will be implementing new admissions units. Patients first arriving at these rehabilitation facilities are held in these areas for the first seven to fourteen days. Only once a patient has completed the required isolation period, they would then be transferred into the facility itself to continue their treatment
Restrictions on Guests: Given the severity and transmissibility of the COVID-19 virus, visitation is not likely to be allowed. While certain circumstances may warrant an exception, the visitor will be subjected to the strict screening requirements that the patients were required to meet before admittance. Though this may cause some stress for those with family or friends in the care of rehabilitation centres, these measures are necessary for the safety of patients and staff
Restrictions on Large Gatherings: Large gatherings and group meetings have been restricted within these facilities. Fellowship and twelve-step meetings have been cancelled as these gatherings involve too many individuals. This step has been taken to limit the effective spread of the virus should it manage to enter a facility
Virtual Meetings: To ensure the safety of patients, group meetings and other gatherings will be held virtually where possible. If it is not possible to hold these meetings virtually, they may be suspended until the safety of patients can be ensured. While it is understood that many may be uncomfortable or unfamiliar with virtual meetings, help and support will be provided to patients with this process
Restriction to Single Occupancy Bedrooms: Accommodations for patients will be limited to single occupancy rooms. For the foreseeable future rehabilitation centres will not be allowing more than one patient to occupy the same room. These facilities are not equipped to effectively deal with a large scale outbreak of COVID-19, and ensuring that self-isolation remains an option for the patients in their care is a requirement of their continued operation during these uncertain times
Employee Self-Isolation in the Event of Symptoms: While the patients are often residing within the centre, it is recognized that the staff is far more likely to become exposed to COVID-19 while they are not on duty. If a staff member begins to demonstrate any of the symptoms that suggest a possible COVID-19 infection, they will be required to self-isolate at their residence for the duration of the government’s recommended isolation period. Further, information is being provided periodically to the staff to ensure that they have all the information that they require to minimize their own risk of exposure, as well as to recognize when they may have become infected. The information has been provided to staff on the benefits of increasing the frequency of their washing, as well as the benefits of social distancing
Employee Travel: Though non-essential travel has been advised against by Public Health, there are instances where travel may be required. Precautions will be taken to ensure that employees minimize the risk to themselves, as well as to the patient population at rehabilitation facilities. It will be ensured that travel is necessary, and that authorization for this travel is made at the highest level within rehabilitation facilities
Three principles established by the UK Regulator
The Care Quality Commission has established three important principles to ensure rehab facilities operate safely, and to reduce the risk of coronavirus to those in its care.
These three principles include:
Focusing activity where it is needed most to ensure people receive safe care – this means concentrating on those areas where we see that the risk to the quality of care is the highest and where we can make the biggest difference
Supporting providers by looking at how we can act flexibly and proportionately to reduce the asks that we make of you – including reducing what you need to do to prepare for inspection and looking at what we can do to limit our need to be on site
Also, you can read Public Health England’s (PHE) COVID-19 guidance for health professionals by clicking here.
Evolution of the Situation
As the global pandemic involving the COVID-19 virus evolves and continues to impact the daily lives of patients and their families, rehabilitation facilities will continue to follow the advice of the authorities at the World Health Organisation, and local and parliamentary governments.
Should an infection occur within one of our rehabilitation facilities we will work to quickly isolate and ensure the best treatment of our patients.
“We will always act in the best interests of people who use services – so while it’s appropriate to recognise the need for you to focus on delivering care, we will always balance this with our responsibility to check that the safety of service users is maintained.”
Ian Trenholm Chief Executive, Care Quality Commission
Facilities providing rehabilitation services will continue to do their best to provide these essential services to those in need. The safety and well-being of our patients are of the highest priority, and providing the treatment that they need will not be prevented by this outbreak.
We thank everyone for their understanding and cooperation as we work to make sure that our patients and staff remain safe and healthy during this time.
Ready to get help?
At Rehab 4 Addiction, we offer high-quality rehabilitation & detoxification services tailored to your individual needs.