COVID-19 Latest Guidance
Many patients rely on audiological diagnosis, support and intervention to remain connected and live well. This is even more important during the COVID-19 pandemic when people depend on phone and video calls to access essential services – for example, medical appointments and talking with family and friends. The government has recently announced and released documentation identifying that audiology is an essential service and should continue to be provided. Therefore, our hearing healthcare services have been adapted according to the new guidelines set by the government. We are also receiving constant support and advice from the professional bodies below on new practice procedures, infection control and protection
On 1/5/20 we received updated guidance from a collection of the main audiology advisory bodies in the UK ( BSHAA , BSA , BAA and AIHHP ) on how to interact with our clients at less than 2m social distance in a safe manner, minimising risk and satisfying infection control procedures.
The document that was released had substantial input from the Infection Prevention Society and drew much content from WHO research ( World Health Organisation ), Public Health England , Centre for Disease Control and Prevention , NICE and ENT UK .
This guidance is aimed at practitioners working within audiology who hold a professional registration with HCPC , RCCP , AHCS , those normally working in the field of audiology alongside qualified/registered professionals.
The summary of the main points of the guidance are below:
Currently, we are advised to minimise contact with clients as much as we can. If something can be done without a face to face interaction, and particularly avoiding interaction within the 2m social distancing area, then it should be done remotely.
Where face to face contact is necessary, before that takes place, we need to ascertain risk. That means we ask you some questions specific to Covid-19 (a triage questionnaire), your potential exposure and infection risk.
Before we schedule an appointment with you in your home, we will ask you if anyone in your household:
- Has coronavirus
- Has a new continuous cough?
- Has a high temperature (37.8oC or over?)
- Has a loss or change to sense of smell or taste?
If the answer to any of the questions above is yes, we are obliged to delay the contact appointment until it is safe to do so.
Hygiene Preparation for Home visit – Practitioner
- Robust hand and respiratory hygiene must be observed.
- Practitioners are reminded that they should keep their fingernails short, and false nails and
nail polish are not to be used.
- To ease hand hygiene practitioners should have no clothing below the elbow.
- It is recommended that clothes worn in clinic are changed/washed daily and washed
separately from other clothes.
- Ties and fashion scarfs should not be worn at this time.
- Clearly, practitioners cannot control the environment in which they are visiting therefore
single use PPE per home or in the case of care home, per resident is recommended. If seeing
multiple asymptomatic residents in a care setting for instance for hearing aid maintenance it
is permissible to leave PPE on for duration of visit provided it is not removed until the visit
ends or it becomes damaged, damp, or soiled.
- PPE required for all visits is FRSM, apron & gloves. Eye protection should be used if concerned.
- PPE should be donned before entering premise or at 2m away from patient.
- Practitioners should carry disposable covers such as plastic/paper sheeting to lay down, upon which they can place their equipment. Practitioners must also carry 2 waste bags per visit.
- Practitioners should not accept any refreshments when in a home and where possible avoid
using toilet facilities in a patient’s home.
- Upon completion of a visit and before leaving the residence PPE must be doffed and placed in a disposable waste bag, knotted, and then this bag placed inside a 2nd waste bag to also be tied securely. These bags should be left at the home but requested to be kept separate from other waste and put aside for at least 72 hours before being put in the usual household waste bin. Remember hand hygiene post doffing.
- Equipment should be carried to the car in the disposable covering, cleaned before placing in
the car, and the disposable cover placed in a rubbish bag and knotted. At the end of the day
all knotted bags should be placed in one larger bag and tied securely. This should then be kept separate from other household or clinic waste and put aside for at least 72 hours before being disposed of in usual waste. Hand sanitizer must be used each time this procedure is completed.
Hygiene Preparation for Home visit – Client
In advance of the visit of our audiologist, please take the following preparatory steps:
- Select a suitable space in your home where the consultation can take place (a work surface is required, so a dining room table or similar is ideal). Clean the surface and surrounding areas with a suitable bleach-based household cleaner.
- Ensure there is access to mains power, for the audiologist’s equipment. The audiologist will be laying down disposable sheeting before placing all equipment.
- The space needs to allow for a 2metre distancing for the consultation during which thorough case history notes will be made directly into the system. The audiologist will also for a brief time need to approach you and carry out otoscopy (looking in your ears). Also, earphones will be placed in the ears for the hearing assessment.
- You will be given a mask and asked to wear it throughout.
- The whole process should take no longer than 60 minutes. We kindly ask that you do not offer any refreshments.