Best Practices for Healthy Homes Practitioners
Immediate Response to COVID-19
During this period of immediate response to COVID-19, there are some tools that can help healthy homes practitioners support home health and safety in our communities.
The social distancing that helps to reduce the spread and health impacts from COVID-19 has temporarily limited in-home services, including those provided by health educators, home assessors, energy auditors, and healthy homes and energy efficiency contractors. In the immediate response to the COVID-19 crisis, healthy homes practitioners can:
Conduct health education and assessment for basic needs via telephone
GHHI has prioritized reaching out to clients served by our organization over the last 5 years via phone to provide basic health and safety information, assess needs, and provide virtual services and referrals to other community resources.
Utilize technology to provide virtual in-home health education and healthy homes assessments
The introduction of remote or video home assessments conducted through cellphones or tablets connects the home assessor’s expertise with the in-house mobility of the occupant. Although remote home assessments would enable home assessors to prescribe home modifications for anyone, anywhere, this strategy would still be dependent on the ability to provide home assessors with the same information as a traditional in-home assessment.
Remote home assessment provided by existing commercial platforms may provide a different level of sensitivity and specificity than traditional in-home assessment, but can potentially be used to identify major health and safety hazards in the home as well as assisting in recommending solutions to those problems. As a result, remote home assessment has the potential to provide underserved, socially distanced families with access to limited but effective home-modification services that otherwise would not be provided due to the current access limitations into the homes of families we serve.
GHHI is currently evaluating the feasibility of the software Zoom Meetings for Healthcare, a popular off-the-shelf remote video conference platform, as a potential remote home assessment tool to determine its equivalence to an in-home assessment.
Limit in-home interventions or prioritize interventions to unoccupied housing, where possible.
For example, healthy homes services can be provided in households where patients are currently in the hospital, or where families have already relocated due to lead hazards.
Create resource guides and healthy housing hotlines
In GHHI sites across the country, healthy homes and energy efficiency organizations are involved in creating resource guides and staffing COVID-19 informational hotlines to disseminate information about staying healthy, safe and comfortable at home during the health crisis.
GHHI has created a Baltimore Community Resources guide in response to COVID-19, which will be used for telephonic outreach to community residents. For more information about the guide, please call 410-534-6447.
The Baltimore County Department of Health has issued a hotline for residents to call with questions or concerns about COVID-19. The number is 410-887-3816. Lines will be open seven days a week, from 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM.
In Memphis, GHHI is working with Methodist LeBonheur Healthcare to create resources for a COVID-19 community hotline, designed to provide medical information, resources to meet basic needs, and healthy homes information.
Identify ways to get involved in emergency COVID-19 response in your community
The evolving COVID-19 crisis requires unprecedented agility from community-based organizations, healthcare institutions, and local, state and federal government. Healthy homes practitioners should look to expand the services we can provide to meet the needs of our communities right now. Some examples include:
- Residential cleaning/disinfection services
- Assisting in the conversion of community facilities to emergency medical facilities
- Providing essential emergency home repairs for vulnerable residents
Best Practices for Long-Term Health and Safety
When it is safe to resume in-home healthy homes and energy-efficiency services, some important safety precautions can help keep workers healthy and continue to prevent the spread of illness.
Environmental Cleaning and Disinfection Recommendations
- Provide sanitizers (liquid gel or wipes) on every desk and common areas such as kitchen, bathrooms, front desk, conference rooms, crew changing room, crew trucks and vans
- Frequently disinfect common use appliances and equipment. If surfaces can’t be sanitized, wash your hands after contacting/touching these potentially contaminated surfaces:
- Exterior door handles
- Elevator bottoms
- Light switches
- Alarm control
- Printer surfaces
- TV remotes
- Microwave handles and control buttons
- Refrigerator handles
- Coffee machine control buttons
- Water faucets in kitchen and bathrooms (Replace with automatic faucets and soap dispensers)
- Bathroom door locks and toilet flush lever
- Door knobs on office/storage rooms doors
- Remote control for garage doors
- Do not use a sponge to wash utensils, plates, or cups. Better to use disposable utensils, plates, and cups
- Frequently disinfect desk surfaces and equipment
- Desk surfaces
- Computer keyboard, monitor, and mouse
- Staplers, pens, rulers, etc.
- Chair arm-rests
- Cabinet handles
- Office staff
- When talking with your office mates, keep a distance of 4-6 feet from each other
- Eliminate face to face meetings or conduct smaller meetings with no more than 3-4 people keeping a min of 6-10 feet from each other
- Stay inside your cubicle
- No handshaking
- If possible, drive instead of flying, taking the train, taking a taxi, or rideshare services
- Housing Intervention Crew safety
- Work in small work crews of 2 to 3 crew members, maintaining 6-10 feet separation from each other
- Wear N-95 respirators
- Wear vinyl or nitrile gloves (replace them periodically during the shift)
- Wear safety glasses or face shields
- During breaks maintain 6-10 feet separation from each other
- Drive separately to client homes or work-sites
- Each crew member using and sanitizing their own tools
- Disinfection of vehicle door handles periodically during shifts
- Disinfection of steering wheels and other cabin surfaces before and after driving the vehicle
- No more than 2 crew members changing clothes inside the changing room. Preferably if the crew changes clothes at home (Source: www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/index.html)