Covid-19 has changed the very fabric of our society and how we all live our lives day-to-day. Many social workers, for instance, continue to work on the frontline, delivering critical social services and fulfilling a statutory duty to intervene in the most urgent cases where there is a risk to life.
Those who necessarily work in close proximity to others - quite rightly - have concerns about the possible risks to their health.
At Cansford Labs, we understand the enormous pressure all those dealing with the vulnerable are under to continue delivering services, including arranging urgently required drug tests. We appreciate how important it is to minimise the risks involved and ensure that the health of clients, donors and collectors is protected.
Here are the measures we are carrying out, or are recommending are carried out, to ensure that drug tests can be conducted as safely as possible.
Ensuring our collectors are adequately equipped with PPE. This is in line with government guidelines for sample collection - to protect both collector and donor. We also require that collectors follow strict hygiene protocols and social distancing measures for the parts of the process where practical; for instance, document completion.
Taking a collection from clients’ offices. We know that business is far from usual and because many offices are shut, the facilities that might normally be used to take samples for drug testing may be unavailable, or unsuitable. Some solicitors we work with are willing to open an office during this time. They feel quite safe doing this due to the measures we have in place.
Providing a clean and secure room.. This can be through a GP or health centre, serviced offices or room hire. The advantage here is this can offer a higher than usual level of cleanliness, without incurring extra fees for the client.
Testing in people’s homes. The need for this is assessed on a case-by-case basis and might, on occasion, be suitable. We understand that testing in people’s homes is the usual practice of other operators in this industry, but at Cansford the welfare of our collectors, clients and donors comes first.
"There is clearly a need to protect or minimise the risk."
The convenience of using a private residence always needs to be very carefully weighed up against the risks. There may be a requirement for a witness to ensure the donor is correctly identified, plus it could be more difficult to ensure the hygiene levels are of an acceptably high level. We are very mindful of this additional challenge during the current health crisis. There is clearly a need to protect or minimise the risk to the donors and members of their household of a potential asymptomatic collector bringing the virus into donors’ homes.
For all these reasons, we don’t provide this as a standard option at this time.
There are other potential possibilities, for instance, a tent or marquee. A temporary, open structure like a tent or marquee is easy to clean, well ventilated and particularly suitable for use as we head into the warmer months. Tents are already being used across this country and others to test for Covid-19 where there is a lack of suitable space indoors. Examples include drive-through tents at central sites in London, and the use of tents for Covid-19 testing at Bristol City’s stadium for staff of the University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust.
Drug testing must, and will, continue to take place during these exceptionally challenging times if we are to protect some of the most vulnerable people in our society. Cansford Labs is endeavouring to take every possible precaution to help support clients in their vital work for children and other people at urgent risk of harm.
The challenges faced by social workers in particular have undoubtedly been overshadowed by the other extreme challenges our health services are facing. But the heroic effort of social workers is nevertheless as worthy of celebration and gratitude as that of our other key workers.
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