Our new Covid-19 policy; emerging from Lockdown, one paw at a time!

We’ve just launched our new Covid-19 policy and visiting roll out plan! ✨ We’re following cautiously behind the Government’s 4 steps, and starting with outside visiting on >2m leads, some ‘Single Named Visiting’ and we’re hoping for a return to inside visiting in May! Fantastic news! Dog assessments should be able to start again in May too! Here’s hoping!

Wag & Company volunteers have been absolutely inspirational during Lockdown with their creativity and commitment to keeping in touch with everyone never wavering. But physical visiting is what we do and it’s what makes the special difference; we just can’t wait to see everyone again, safely!

For anyone who’d like to read the detailed plan, it’s on our home page and also set out below:

Wag & Company : Covid-19 Policy

Covid-19 Roll Out Plan : Subject to the Milestones required by the Government’s Roll Out Plan being achieved and Wag’s Safe Visiting Guidance being followed.

The Wag & Company Trustees met on Wednesday 3rd of March to review the Government’s Roll Out Plan briefed on Monday 22 February and to finalise the Wag response also incorporating advice from Advisors.

From the 8th of March, we will progressively enable visiting again, starting with, on request of the family and Care Home, Single Named Visiting and also outside visiting in the grounds of Care or Medical Establishments.

All visiting and all elements of this plan will be subject to compliance with Government guidance, Wag guidance and the risk assessments of individual Care & Medical establishments.

Visits must never go ahead if the volunteer feels unwell or is demonstrating any symptoms of Covid-19 or if they or anyone in the Home have or has been in contact with Covid-19 within the last 14 days.   

Volunteers will start visiting again when they feel comfortable to do so and as permitted by the guidance set out below.

All Covid delayed Wag assessment process steps must have been completed prior to any visiting.   

From 8th March :

(1) Single Named Visiting in Care or Nursing Homes is possible:-

If requested by the family or by the individual themselves, a Wag volunteer may agree to be the Single Named Visitor in a Care or Nursing Home.

Ideally the person to be visited will have had both vaccinations and the volunteer should have had at least one vaccination; but this is subject to Care Home and individual volunteer’s own decision making.

The Care Home must give their permission for the visit in advance.

The volunteer must adhere to the Care Home’s protocols including being tested by the Care Home before entry and wearing the PPE provided by the Care Home throughout the visit.

Friendship Dogs must be on short leads as usual and also visit in a freshly washed bandana with a freshly cleaned collar and lead.

Anti bacterial hand wipes should be given to the older person before leaving.

Volunteers should avoid needing to use the facilities in the Care or Nursing if possible and should not offer or accept refreshments.

(2) Outdoor Visiting is also possible in Care or Nursing Homes if requested by the Care Home and subject to the Wag outside visiting guidance:-

Dogs must respond safely on >2m extending leads and staff support must be available;  see extending lead guidance below.

Volunteers and any other people, staff, elderly friends etc, must socially distance by at least 2m.  There are no circumstances that indoor visiting is permitted; if the weather deteriorates the volunteer and dog must leave.

Ideally the person to be visited will have had both vaccinations and the volunteer should have had at least one vaccination.

Masks will be worn by volunteers unless the mask materially affects communication during the visit when it can be removed but replaced as soon as possible.

Volunteers must be satisfied that their dogs are happy to be exposed to people in masks.

Great care must be taken with social distancing, hand washing and disinfection to reduce the risk of person to person transmission.  See practicing effective hygiene guidance below.

Volunteers should avoid needing to use the facilities in the Care or Nursing if possible and should not offer or accept refreshments.

If a dog visits a care and medical establishment they should allow at least 72 hours before they visit a different placement.

From 29th March: 

Outdoor Visiting is also possible in a garden or a private outside space with one of our 1:1 home placements. 

This is subject to the visiting requirements above and the placement meeting the criteria provided below:-

Support for the meeting has been obtained from the family and/or any referrers as appropriate/available.

Ideally the person to be visited will have had both vaccinations and the volunteer should have had at least one vaccination.

The garden must be accessible from outside the house;  access through the house is not possible.

There are no circumstances that indoor visiting is permitted. For instance if the weather deteriorates the volunteer and dog must leave.

The volunteer is confident that 2m distancing can be maintained outside at all times.

A person from the older person’s support bubble can be present if there is anypotential they might need help during the visit or if the visit takes place in a public space as opposed to a garden.    

The volunteer has up to date knowledge of the health and demeanour of the elderly friend, so that they can be safely and independently touching the dog on a 2m extended lead with the volunteer distanced.

The volunteer should wear a mask, unless it materially affects communication when it can be removed but replaced as soon as possible.

Volunteers can’t enter the home of their elderly friend, so must avoid needing to use the facilities.

Refreshments should not be offered or accepted.

Great care must be taken with social distancing, hand washing and disinfection.  See practicing effective hygiene guidance.

If a dog visits a care and medical establishment they should allow at least 72 hours before they visit a different placement.

From 17 May

In addition to Single Named and outdoor visiting outlined above:-

Subject to placement specific conditions, indoor visiting may resume – ideally all parties will have been fully vaccinated.

If social distancing still applies indoors, extending leads cannot be used in multi person indoor space eg the lounge of a Care Home.   

Extending leads could only to be used inside in a 1:1 situation where furniture and trip hazards separating the volunteer and the dog by 2m can be removed or managed.

Dog assessments can resume subject to the Canine & Feline Sector Group guidance.

https://www.cfsg.org.uk/news/latest-covid-19-advice-to-come/

From 21 June

  • Normal Wag visiting operations can resume.
  • Walk for Wag planning for 11 September 2021 begins.
  • Walk for Wag registration opens.

Wag & Company : Extending Lead Guidance:

  • Dogs should be well-behaved and calm enough on an extending lead so that the volunteer is confident they have sufficient control.  Extending lead visiting must not be attempted if there is a question over safe management with individual dogs.
  • The lead must be at least 3m long to enable 2m distancing and it can’t become entangled in anything close by.
  • The lead must not be locked at any point and volunteers must ensure their dog cannot pull them closer to the people being visited.
  • Volunteers should practice handling their dog on an extending lead if it is new to them before using it in the visiting setting.
  • Some dogs may be less confident away from their owners even just the length of an extending lead, so everyone should be extra vigilant and the dog must be able to walk away if it needs to.
  • At no time should the lead be given to anyone else to hold.  The volunteer must always have control of the lead.
  • In a care or medical establishment a member of staff close to the people being visited should monitor the dog/resident/person interaction because the volunteer will be over 2m away and unable to see as clearly as usual. The staff member should be made aware that they are being relied upon to monitor the dog and person/resident’s behaviour for the safety of both.

Wag & Company : Practicing effective hygiene:

  • Volunteers must wash and disinfect before taking their dog home or getting into their car. It’s important that there must be no face/mask touching until hands have been cleaned and disinfected.
  • Anyone else who comes into contact with the dog and particularly of course our elderly friends, must wash and/or disinfect before going back into their own establishments or homes.
  • The virus can be carried on most surfaces, so besides hand washing and disinfection before and after every physical contact, it will help if dog’s hair and equipment (leads, harnesses, toys etc) are also wiped down with an antiseptic wipe.  If necessary, items can be placed in a sealed bag and then immediately laundered at home.  Guidance as to whether a product is safe for your dog can be provided on request.

We are relieved and delighted to be able to plan our visiting again.  Wag & Company volunteers have been absolutely inspirational during Lockdown with their creativity and commitment to keeping in touch with everyone.  But physical visiting is what we do and it’s what makes the special difference;  we can’t wait to see everyone again!

Everything we do, we do with compliance, safeguarding and safety at its heart – so as you can see, we are proceeding cautiously and we’ll be mainly outside visiting, where we can, in March and April and hoping for a return to inside visiting from the end of May.

Diane Morton

Chair of the Trustees

diane@wagandcompany.co.uk

8 March 2021

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