Is it safe to re-hire maids or domestic helpers and allow them back into your homes? As the COVID lock down is slowly being lifted in different places, and people start going back to work, we will start opening up our homes to our Helpers. If we have to go to work we need help in taking care of homes, young kids, parents etc. Even if we work from home, daily chores become too much to handle with education going online and work from home blurring the boundaries of work and home time. While we do so, we will also have this nagging fear at the back of our minds as to how do we ensure we are not increasing exposure to the Virus by allowing helpers to come home to work.
Things to Ensure Before the Helper Enters Your Home
While at this stage we cannot be sure of a 100% protection against the exposure to the Virus, we need to hire maids, nannies, cooks, drivers and let them start work so that we can restart our own careers with full focus. This will also help them run their homes. There are some things we can keep in mind to stay safe. If I were having a cleaner come over on a daily basis to do my chores, I would train my domestic helper in the following to increase the safety of everyone:
- Find and hire local helpers so that they can avoid public transport if possible. If they have to use public transport, teach them the importance of face covering and social distancing in the public transport
- Tell my Helper to announce their arrival by calling me rather than ringing the bell so that I can leave the door open for them
- Leave a bag or covered basket or container for the Helper outside the house or in a balcony where they can leave their bags mobile, purse, handkerchief and mask when they arrive
- Ask them to take off their shoes outside the house. If needed provide a pair of slippers or socks to wear inside the house
- Ask them to wash their hands and face, and if possible feet, as soon as they arrive
- Give them a new, washable mask, a small towel and an overall or old T Shirt or Nighty to wear over their clothes, especially if they use public transport
- Make sure separate soap or sanitizer is available by every sink for their use
- Tell my helper to trim nails for their and our hygiene, especially if they cook or come in contact with children or elderly
Tips to Get Your Helper to Work While Following Safety Norms
Once the worker is inside we can take some more precautions to ensure that the home stays safe. I would train and empower my maid or cook or nanny or caregiver to stay safe and keep us safe with the following tips when they are at work:
- Maintain social distancing of 2 metres at all times and instruct my family to minimise movement in corridors and rooms.
- Nannies and caregivers will also be told to maintain a safe distance (at least 2 metres) from the household occupants whenever possible
- Encourage them to wash their hands with water & soap for 20 seconds during and after their chores and cleans
- Train them on the process for disinfecting high-touch areas, along with the dwell-time of 20 seconds that is needed to effectively kill germs.
- Tell them to avoid shaking dirty laundry & soft furnishings such as bath mats and rugs. Instead train them that they should wash whatever is possible or wipe with a clean wet cloth dipped in disinfectant
- Add disinfectant in water used for mopping, cleaning, dusting and other cleaning chores
- Ensure disinfecting of high touch areas like Light switches, Door handles, Cabinet handles, Hand rails, TV remotes, Tables, Counter tops, Bathroom surfaces including the toilet every day. Make sure that the cloth should have minimal moisture when cleaning switches etc
- Put away the knick-knacks not needed for any practical purpose, to avoid more surface area being touched by them
- Train them to start cleaning higher areas first. Clean counter tops before cleaning floor, for example. This will help avoid contaminating areas that are already cleaned
- Ensure they clean the bathroom or balcony where they wash themselves and their tools, at the end
- Keep all indoor doors open within the house to reduce contact points while they are cleaning
- Open windows and turn on exhaust fans for ventilation where possible
- Everyone wears a mask when the Helper is around us
Things to Ensure When Helper Ends Work
It is not enough to take care while the person is working. To ensure that it is safe to engage a cleaner we should ensure the work of the helper is ended the right way. After cleaning the Helper should:
- Thoroughly wash and clean the equipment and supplies they have used, including bottles, mops, dusters.
- Where possible, machine wash cloths and mop heads at a high temperature (60 degrees C or above).
- Wash the overalls, masks, socks, gloves, slipper etc with soap water, and dry out in the sun for use the next day
It is not just enough to take the above precautions. Three most important tips to ensure overall safety of yourself, your family and your helper are:
- Encourage Helpers to take time off & not attend cleans if anybody in their home has Corona virus symptoms or has been told to shield, or if they themselves are not well
- Pause their services if anybody in your home has Corona virus symptoms or has been told to shield
- Act as a family to your domestic help. Stimulate a positive mental positioning needed the most to overcome these tumultuous times for you as well as them. Help them understand the instructions with reasons so that they follow them at home too. This will ultimately keep your home safe.
Are you still wondering whether to allow Helpers in your homes? Do read this debate on BBC News
Prefer to watch the above article as video? Click this link for a quick video reckoner about how to safely allow your maid, nanny or cook back into your homes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GReue4NtrXA
To hire Live in Helper check out Helper4U.in