Guidance for Health and Social Care staff car sharing for essential practice
Please note this page is currently being updated.
For the purposes of clinical placements or provision of care, Health and Social Care Staff (including bank or agency workers and those from the independent sector) should avoid car sharing with other colleagues or students where possible. It is of course recognised that some services will require car sharing for essential purposes. This Standard Operating Procedure has been developed to provide a number of key actions for all members of staff who, for the purpose of work, are required to travel with either a student, another staff member, a patient or service user.
Essential service provision may take the form of:
- a member of staff sharing a car with a student to ensure clinical placements can take place
- staff members required to share a car to provide care such as domiciliary care work
- the movement of patients / service users on certain occasions such as taking a child to a placement or essential rehabilitation for service users with learning disabilities
The SOP is based on interpretation of the national COVID-19 guidance as below:
All alternatives to car sharing must be explored and ruled out before car sharing is permitted. This should be recorded on the services COVID risk assessment. Other, (non-infection) risks may also need to be taken into consideration as part of a holistic / dynamic risk assessment.
Please note that if an individual in the car tests positive for COVID-19 all other occupants will be considered a close contact and should follow the relevant self-isolation guidance for HSC staff or the general public guidance accordingly.
Any vehicle used for the purpose of work should be road worthy and in a good state of repair; local policies regarding driving for work must be adhered to, it is the responsibility of the individual health and social care worker to check with their insurance provider that following this guidance will not have implications for their insurance cover.
Staff with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 infection and staff known to be a contact of a COVID-19 case
Any staff member or student who is either a confirmed case of COVID-19 or a close contact should follow the most current version of the guidance titled which can be found here:
- Letters and urgent communications 2022 | Department of Health (health-ni.gov.uk); see the most recent version of the guidance titled ‘MANAGEMENT OF HEALTH AND SOCIAL CARE STAFF WHO ARE CONFIRMED CASES OF COVID-19 – UPDATED GUIDANCE – REVISED’
And ‘MANAGEMENT OF HEALTH AND SOCIAL CARE STAFF WHO ARE CONFIRMED CASES OF COVID-19 OR WHO CLOSE CONTACTS OF A CONFIRMED CASE’
Those health and social care workers/students who work in care facilities and are identified as confirmed COVID-19 cases or close contacts should follow separate guidance linked below:
- COVID-19: Regular programme of COVID-19 testing in residential and nursing homes | HSC Public Health Agency (hscni.net); see the most recent guidance
All staff members should also contact their individual Occupational health teams who should also be following the relevant guidance contained above.
General guidance for confirmed COVID-19 cases and also close contacts can be found at:
General information for health and social care workers (including bank or agency workers and those from the independent sector) and students:
- Where possible car sharing should be arranged between the same people on each occasion
- All staff and students should be aware of COVID-19 guidelines as outlined by the UKHSA including social distancing, use of PPE, hand hygiene, respiratory hygiene and environmental cleaning.
- Students should be advised of the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and be advised of the actions to take should they become symptomatic, test positive or are identified as a close contact.
- All staff and students should be advised on the care and management of their uniform as per local guidance.
- All staff and students are advised to carry out a lateral flow test before starting their shift. Please check local arrangements for testing.
- All staff and students are encouraged to get the COVID-19 vaccinations and booster.
- Vaccination information can be found here: Get a COVID-19 vaccination and booster in Northern Ireland | nidirect
General information for patients/service users:
- The driver of the car must check with the patient/ service user prior to the journey if they are unwell with symptoms of COVID-19 or if they have been in close contact with a known positive case of COVID-19.
- If the patient/service user has symptoms in keeping with COVID-19 or has been a close contact of a case of COVID-19 local guidance for the management of COVID-19 must be followed, see above link for more information. It is highly unlikely that the journey will take place unless a risk assessment is carried out and it is thought that the risk of not transferring the patient/service user is greater than the risk of COVID-19 exposure to others. An example of this may be safeguarding issues. In this case, advice must be sought from the local Infection Prevention and Control Team before the journey takes place.
- Service users are encouraged to undergo a LFD test before the journey begins.
- Hand hygiene should be carried out before entering the car on every occasion
- The use of wipeable seat covers should be risk assessed when sharing the car with a patient or service user and the car seats are not waterproof. This risk assessment should take into account the capacity of the passenger to comply with hand hygiene and refrain from touching surfaces, the likelihood of bodily fluid spillages must also be considered.
- The passenger should sit in the backseat on the passenger side of the vehicle
- The passenger should wear a disposable fluid resistant mask if tolerated as 2m distancing cannot be achieved
- The driver should wear a disposable fluid resistant face mask provided it does not compromise driver safety in any way
- Adequate ventilation should be in place by opening the vehicle windows and/or the external vents
- Seat covers and common touch points such as door handles, window adjusters, seatbelts and seatbelt points should be cleaned with a suitable product such as detergent wipes at the end of each journey and at the end of the day as a minimum.
- The car should be clean and clutter free and in a good state of repair, surfaces should be wipeable
For further information see: