Managing an outbreak of COVID-19 in a learning disability setting
evidence and practice    

Managing an outbreak of COVID-19 in a learning disability setting

Kirsty Rodgers Infection Prevention and Control Nurse, Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, Belfast, Northern Ireland
Seana McAliskey Infection Prevention and Control Nurse, Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, Belfast, Northern Ireland
Patricia McKinney Divisional Nurse, Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, Belfast, Northern Ireland
Kelly Anderson Ward Sister, Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, Belfast, Northern Ireland
Chloe Jade McDonald Ward Sister, Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, Belfast, Northern Ireland
Mary Hanrahan Service Manager, Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, Belfast, Northern Ireland

Why you should read this article:
  • To outline how learning disability settings can prepare for and manage COVID-19 outbreaks

  • To recognise the importance of developing a contingency plan to manage a COVID-19 outbreak in a learning disability setting

  • To identify the need to support clients with learning disabilities when reinforcing public health messages about COVID-19

This article describes the experience of preparing for, and managing, a small COVID-19 outbreak that affected clients and staff in a learning disability setting. To demonstrate the likelihood of transmission, a timeline was developed to map the trajectory of symptomatic individuals and confirmed cases. Practices such as effective hand hygiene and wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) were observed by staff members. COVID-19 transmission containment measures included: isolation of clients who had tested positive for COVID-19, nomination of specific staff members to care for clients who had tested positive, and amending duty rotas to prevent staff crossover between various units. The frequency of environmental cleaning was also increased.

On-site refresher training for medical, nursing and domestic staff focused on coronavirus transmission, PPE, hand hygiene and environmental cleaning. A contingency plan devised before the COVID-19 outbreak was invaluable because staff members could respond immediately when positive cases were identified among clients and staff members. COVID-19 screening for clients and all staff members was conducted to identify asymptomatic carriers; these individuals were then excluded from work to reduce the risk of potential transmission.

Learning Disability Practice. doi: 10.7748/ldp.2021.e2116

Peer review

This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and has been checked for plagiarism using automated software

Correspondence

kirsty.rodgers@belfasttrust.hscni.net

Conflict of interest

None declared

Rodgers K, McAliskey S, McKinney P et al (2021) Managing an outbreak of COVID-19 in a learning disability setting. Learning Disability Practice. doi: 10.7748/ldp.2021.e2116

Published online: 07 January 2021

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