The British Columbia Association of Social Workers requires Registered Social Workers to create a COVID19 Safety Plan to ensure the health and wellbeing of our clients remains our top priority. In accordance with the order of the Provincial Health Officer, this plan must be posted at our worksite. We will continue to closely monitor all national, provincial and local updates provided by authorities to ensure we’re implementing all recommended preventative measures.
Transmission of COVID-19
The virus that causes COVID-19 spreads in several ways. It can spread in droplets when a person coughs or sneezes. It can also spread if you touch a contaminated surface and then touch your face.
The risk of person-to-person transmission increases the closer you come to other people, the more time you spend near them and the more people you come near.
The risk of surface transmission increases when many people contact the same surface and when those contacts happen over short periods of time.
Symptoms of COVID-19
Those infected with COVID-19 may have little to no symptoms. Symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to other respiratory illnesses, including the flu and common cold and may take up to 14 days to appear. Common symptoms of COVID-19 have included:
➢ Dry cough
➢ Difficulty breathing
Some people may experience aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat, vomiting and/or diarrhea. These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually.
The Public Health Agency outlines several precautions for pregnant women to follow to protect themselves from becoming ill, including:
➢ Stay home as much as possible, except for important medical appointments, and work from home if possible. The full list of precautions for pregnant women can be accessed here: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/publications/diseases-conditions/pregnancy-advisemothers.html
Assessing our Workplace
We have identified area where there may be risks, either through close physical proximity or through contaminated surfaces. We want you to know:
➢ We have established occupancy limits. Our office will be used by one therapist at any given time.
➢ Surfaces have been identified, such as: doorknobs, light switches, table, loveseat, washroom keys, hand sanitizer, pens and anything else that is touched..
Implementing Protocol to Reduce Risks
The first level of protection is “elimination” which means we will limit the number of people in our office space by initially offering phone and video counselling. If clients request face-to-face counselling, we will take precautionary measures to ensure the health and safety of our clients.
Face-to Face Sessions with Clients
Prior to approving any face-to-face sessions with clients, we will:
➢ Screen clients via phone, text or email prior to scheduling a face-to-face session.
➢ On the day of your face-to-face session, we will ask you 4 screening questions:
1. Do you have any of the following symptoms: fever/feverish, new or existing cough and/or any difficulties breathing?
2. Have you had close contact with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or is believed to have COVID-19 and is awaiting testing and/or test results?
3. Have you travelled internationally within the last 14 days?
4. Have you had close contact with someone who is ill and has been outside of Canada within the last 14 days?
If potential health issues have NOT been identified and the client wants to have a face-to-face session, the following steps will be taken:
➢ Meet with the client in the office with good ventilation and air circulation.
➢ Sit approximately 2 meters or more apart from the client.
Good Health & Hygiene Practices
The best way to protect yourself is to practice good health hygiene:
➢ Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Using soap and water is the single most effective way to reduce the spread of infection. Be sure to scrub the front and back of your hands, in between your fingers and underneath your fingernails.
➢ If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. If your hands are visibly soiled, use a wipe to clean them before using hand sanitizer.
➢ Do not touch your face, eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
➢ Cover your mouth and nose with a disposable tissue or the crease of your elbow when you sneeze and/or cough.
➢ Regularly clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
➢ Do not share food, drinks, utensils, etc.
➢ Avoid hugging and shaking hands.
Use of Non-Medical Masks:
A non-medical mask is a loose-fitting, disposable device that creates a physical barrier between the mouth and nose of the wearer and potential contaminants in the immediate environment. When worn properly, a non-medical mask is meant to help block large-particle droplets, splashes, sprays or splatter that may contain germs, keeping it from reaching your mouth and nose. These masks may also help reduce exposure of your saliva and respiratory secretions to others.
When can Non-Medical Masks be Used?
Non-medical masks can be used when physical distancing is limited or not possible during face-to-face services. Masks are not required; however, a small supply is available for clients and therapists to wear, voluntarily. We will use our judgement to determine when we and/or a client could use a mask, such as when:
➢ Physical distancing is limited;
➢ A client has requested that an employee wear a mask.
➢ Wash your hands immediately before putting it on and immediately after taking it off (in addition to practicing good hand hygiene while wearing it).
➢ The mask should fit well (non-gaping) and it should not be shared with others.
➢ Disposable masks are one time use only and should be discarded properly and immediately after use.
Therapists & COVID-19 Symptoms
What happens if we are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms at home, or if we are not feeling well? We do not come into the office. We would inform other therapists sharing the office space, as well as, providing the results of the self-assessment, dates of testing, the results of testing. We will follow proper protocol for disinfecting office. Testing is now recommended for anyone with cold, influenza or COVID-like symptoms, even mild symptoms and a referral is no longer required.
In the event there is exposure to COVID-19 in our office, the office will be immediately closed to everyone and arrangements will be made for a deep clean of the office. We will take appropriate steps to notify any clients who may have been exposed to COVID-19 at the office.
Sanitization of Office Space
We maintain suitable levels of disinfectant and sanitizing solutions in the office to reduce the risk of transmission.
✓ When we arrive at the office, we sanitize our hands.
✓ Upon entering the office, we wipe down door handles, light switches, counter surfaces and furniture (if/when used).
✓ After each client session, we wipe down door handles.
✓ We wipe down any surfaces anyone has had contact with and wipe down office space prior to departure.
✓ We turn off water taps with paper towel and discard immediately.
Sanitization of Toys and Tools
We maintain suitable levels of disinfectant and sanitizing solutions in the office to reduce the risk of transmission. We may offer a select item to be used in therapy and each item will be sanitized after the session. However, the majority of our sand figurines, sand tray and play therapy toys will not be available.
Emergency Transport of Clients (rare)
In case of medical emergency, we would call 911, however, in rare situations, therapists have transported clients to hospital emergency and only when there are no presenting symptoms of COVID-19. Both therapist and client would wear a non-medial mask, and disposable gloves. In our vehicles we have wipes and hand sanitizer and a clearly marked spray bottle of household cleaner, and paper towel. We travel with windows rolled down as appropriate and as dictated by weather. After dropping off the client, masks and gloves would be disposed of properly. We would disinfect keys, seatbelts (including buckles), high-touch areas, steering wheel, radio panel and knobs, transmission selector, wiper controls, signal controls, purses, bags, travel cups, cup holders, etc. We always wash our hands or use hand sanitizer after cleaning.
By signing this form, I am indicating that I have read and understand the risks and precautions as outlined in the COVID19 Safety Plan.
Dawn Sather, MSW, RSW, RCC