Is it safe to have a healthcare provider come to my home during COVID-19?
The Ontario Ministry of Health has guidelines that all health-care providers must follow when they come to your home to provide services during the COVID-19 emergency.
The Ontario Personal Support Workers Association also has rules for personal support workers to follow when they come to your home.
If you're still not comfortable with a care provider coming into your home, you can refuse to let them in. But if you decide to stop the service, you might need to have a new assessment when you want to start the services again.
Healthcare providers must ‘self-monitor' twice a day. This means they must check to make sure that they don't have a fever, cough, shortness of breath, headache, or other symptoms of COVID-19. If they have any symptoms, they shouldn't come to your home.
Before a care provider comes to your home, you should receive a phone call from either the person who is coming or someone from their agency. They should ask you:
- if you have any COVID-19 symptoms, and
- whether anyone else will be in the home when they come and, if so, do they have any COVID-19 symptoms.
When the care provider arrives, they might do more screening from a 2 metre distance. They might ask other people in your home to go out or move to another part of the home during your treatment unless they absolutely need to be there.
If the screening shows that you have COVID-19 symptoms, the care provider will tell you how to get tested and what else you need to do to protect family members. If you're very sick, they may call 911. The care provider won't enter your home in these situations.
Masks and other PPE
The care provider should wear a surgical mask at all times during their visit. If possible, you should also wear a non-medical mask. If you don't have one, the care provider will give you one.
The care provider might also wear eye protection, like a face shield or goggles, if they need more protection because of the treatment they are giving you or if you're unable to wear a mask.
For some kinds of care, the care provider will also need to wear other personal protective equipment (PPE), like a gown and gloves.
The care provider must wash their hands thoroughly when they first come to your home. They must also wash after they have contact with you and when they take off their PPE. Any equipment they use like scissors, thermometer, or blood pressure cuff, must be cleaned and disinfected after each use.
Care provider not following the rules
Health-care providers should follow the rules about hand washing, wearing PPE, and disinfecting equipment. The rules protect both you and the care provider.
If you think your care provider isn't being careful enough about following the rules, here are some things you can do:
- First, ask your care provider to be more careful and to follow the rules. Explain what you think they should do when in your home and try to get them to agree.
- If you can't work things out with your care provider, talk about the problem with your Care Coordinator at Home and Community Care Support Services (HCCSS). To find the HCCSS in your area, visit healthcareathome.ca and search by your postal code, or call 310-2222. The Case Coordinator can speak to a supervisor at the agency your care provider works for. The agency can give instructions to the care provider about how to follow the rules. If that doesn't work, you can ask for the agency to send you a different care provider.
- Providers that are health-care professionals belong to a “college” like the Ontario College of Nurses or the College of Occupational Therapists of Ontario. The college sets rules that health-care professionals must follow. Colleges also accept complaints from patients. You can find more information on the College's website.
To report harm, neglect or other complaints about home care in Ontario, you can call the Long-term Care ACTION Line toll-free at 1-866-434-0144. You can get more information about the complaint process at https://www.ontario.ca/page/long-term-care-home-complaint-process