Ministry of Social Affairs and Health gives instructions to municipalities on home care services during the coronavirus outbreak

Ministry of Social Affairs and Health 31.3.2020 16.30
Press release 70/2020

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health has given instructions to municipalities and joint municipal authorities on home care services during the coronavirus outbreak.

The instructions must be followed especially in the case of home care services for people over 70 years of age, those with disabilities or long-term illnesses and other risk groups. They also apply to home care services for children and young people at risk, where appropriate.

The instructions are based on the obligation laid down in the Communicable Diseases Act (1227/2016) to take measures to prevent and reduce the spread of infections. 

Home care workers must provide guidance to clients on matters of hygiene and protection against viruses. Families and friends must be given clear instructions and information on hygiene and the content and reasons for the measures.

Municipalities must draw up instructions on the situation for informal caregivers and for those receiving personal assistance, and ensure that those dependent on informal care and personal assistance continue to receive care and assistance even if the informal caregiver, the person receiving informal care, the person receiving assistance or the person providing assistance becomes infected with coronavirus. 

Protecting clients against coronavirus infection

It is the employer's duty to provide the staff with clear and appropriate instructions on the measures to be taken in the fight against infection. 

During the coronavirus epidemic, those working in home care must use a mouth-nose mask to protect the client against any disease carried by the staff. In the case of healthy and asymptomatic clients, a single-use surgical mask or a disposable protective cloth, such as a scarf, may be used. The same must be done when giving personal assistance to persons with disabilities who are at risk. In this respect, the instructions also apply to service housing with 24-h assistance.

A protective mask made of cloth is used only once, and it is washed or disposed of after use. Staff must be given instructions on the use and disinfection of such cloths. 

When treating patients with respiratory infection or assisting persons receiving personal assistance, a surgical mask, protective gloves and a medical gown or apron must be worn. In all situations, staff must pay closer attention to the detection of possible coronavirus infection at the earliest possible stage.

Inquiries:

Services for older people: Satu Karppanen, Ministerial Adviser, [email protected]
Services for people with disabilities: Kirsi-Maria Malmlund, Lawyer, [email protected]
Informal care: Anne-Mari Raassina, Ministerial Adviser, [email protected]