This information aims to support registrants working in the community to adapt their practice to COVID-19, in line with the Standards of conduct, performance and ethics.
This is primarily targeted at professionals who deliver non-emergency services in the community – outside of hospitals. This might include primary care services, professionals who visit service users in their homes or private clinics.
This is primarily targeted at registrants who deliver non-emergency services in the community – outside of hospitals. This might include primary care services, professionals who visit service users in their homes or private clinics.
You should read this information alongside our other pages on applying the standards in response to COVID-19 Including all relevant government guidance. While legal requirements relating to COVID-19 are likely to see a significant change during 2021, the HCPC expects registrants to always assess the risks posed to service users and colleagues and to take steps to mitigate these risks where possible.
The four nations of the UK have taken slightly different approaches to the requirement for social distancing. It is important that you ensure that you follow the guidance relevant to the area in which you are working.
Social distancing measures are likely to have an impact on your work, given t he nature of health and care generally does not allow for social distancing.
You should ensure you are managing the risk to yourself, your colleagues and your service users.
Assessing risks and providing care
Your primary consideration should be about managing the risk to service users, yourself and others at all times. You should stay up to date with relevant government guidance (including their regional tier, COVID Alert Level or equivalent), HCPC’s advice and resources, guidance issued by your employer and / or professional body and to your their professional judgement to assess the level of risk and act accordingly.
We advise weighing up the risks to you, your colleagues or service users of contracting COVID-19 through providing face-to-face care and consider:
- The steps which can be taken to reduce this risk, for example, infection control, social distancing, use of face coverings and adequate PPE;
- the health implications of not providing face-to-face treatment to that service user;
- the potential burden that may place on other services in the health and care sector if the service user is left untreated;
- whether treatment can be provided remotely
Providing services remotely
If you decide to provide care and treatment remotely, you will need to do so in a way which continues to meet our standards. In particular, you must:
Explain if there are any limitations on what care and treatment you can provide remotely.
Adapt to the technology access / abilities of your service users.
See our information sheet on communication for further advice.
Ensure that any platform you use keeps your service user’s data secure.
Also, if you are working from home, making sure your practice environment is secure and members of your household are unable to overhear confidential conversations.
See our information on data protection for further advice.
If you cannot sufficiently manage risk remotely, adapt your practice accordingly.
Also carefully consider the practical restrictions and inherent risks of practising remotely and manage those risks appropriately.
See our information sheet on managing risk for further advice.
We have guidance on providing online services on our website that may be of interest:
- Information on providing online services
- High level principles for good practice in remote consultations and prescribing
Maintaining a safe practice environment
Where you provide face-to-face care, you must put the appropriate steps in place to reduce risk to yourself, colleagues and others.
These steps could include wearing a mask or face covering or taking measures to ensure that service users can maintain social distancing from other service users or professionals who are not treating them – for example, by limiting the number of service users in a waiting room.
You must also ensure that you follow advice on self-isolating when required to do so.
You must use your professional judgement to decide which steps you need to take to maintain a safe practice environment based on the available information. This includes Infection Prevention Control guidelines issued by the government and other COVID-19 guidance for your area, including any position taken by your employer. We have also set out in more detail how you should manage risk, which includes advice around infection control and PPE.
Recording and communicating your decisions
Service users and their carers are likely to still have increased anxiety about receiving treatment in the current circumstances. It’s important that you are mindful of this and give them the information they want or need in a way they can understand. For example, service users and carers may want information about how you have adapted your practice and what they can expect when they receive face-to-face services from you.
If you do visit someone in their home, you should make sure you explain your approach to infection control and personal protective equipment at the earliest opportunity. You can find further information on infection control on our website.
You should record any decision to continue to provide care/treatment in the home, noting down the discussions you have had, and confirming you gained informed consent to proceed.
You can find further advice and support by visiting your professional body’s website. You can find details of the professional bodies for our registrants here.
For other support, such as financial, you can go to the Government website.