Welcoming your domestic helper, nanny or child caregiver (either an employee or a volunteer) into your home in light of the COVID-19 pandemic requires extra care and attention to help limit the transmission of the virus.
Before returning to your home, talk with your employee/volunteer about expectations surrounding sanitation of the home and environment; hand-washing procedures; respiratory etiquette; signs your child is having difficulty; and how to communicate with your child about COVID-19 if your child brings it up with him/her.
You can download our guidance here:
What Are Some Protocols To Take?
- Your employee or volunteer should be made aware of COVID-19 symptoms and recognise these symptoms in children and adults (fever, cough, shortness of breath, loss of smell and taste). These symptoms are usually mild but commonly occur within 14 days after a person has been exposed.
- Your employee or volunteer and any one else in their household should be free of COVID-19 symptoms and have not knowingly been exposed to COVID-19. There should also be a communication plan regarding any symptoms of COVID-19 or possible contact with COVID-19 so that you can make alternate care arrangements for your child.
- Have a written agreement regarding expectations of notification of COVID-19 symptoms or exposure is recommended. You could also include payment details in the event the employee has to be placed in isolation, etc.
- You should notify your employee/volunteer of any symptoms or exposure to COVID-19 of any member of your household and do not permit your employee/volunteer to enter your premises until the member(s) of your household are cleared by the Public Health Department. You could also decide on payment details in the event your employee cannot come to work because your household is in isolation.
- Your employee or volunteer should be aware of and adheres to handwashing procedures, respiratory etiquette and any other current Government policies.
- You should ensure that your employee/volunteer only provides care for a core group of no more than 5 children– however these children should not be residents from more than 3 different households- (if he/she is caring for children from outside your household) and follows most recent Public Health Regulations regarding this.
- If your child is ill (not COVID-19 related), do not allow other children to come into your home to be cared for by your employee/volunteer.
- Your employee/volunteer uses appropriate and required personal protection equipment (PPE) as guided by the Public Health Department (e.g. masks or cloth face coverings). You will have to decide if you will provide these at no cost to your employee/volunteer.
- A mask or cloth face covering is worn by the employee/volunteer childcare giver and by any other adult within the household while they are indoors and interacting with the employee/volunteer who does not live within that residence and when a distance of 6ft/2m cannot be maintained. Exceptions for wearing masks are as follows:
- where the employee/volunteer or other person of the household is unable to wear a mask or cloth face covering due to a medical condition or the employee/volunteer or other adult person is otherwise exempted by guidance provided by the Medical Officer of Health;
- where the employee/volunteer is eating or sitting without talking or the other adult person is eating or sitting without talking;
- when the babysitter and child(ren) are exercising (a distance of 6ft/2m should be maintained); or
- when child(ren) is sleeping/napping (a distance of 6ft/2m should be maintained).
- Your employee/volunteer must dispose of waste according to Public Health Department/Department of Environmental Health Guidelines.
- Your employee/volunteer must adhere to sanitation requirements.
- Your employee/volunteer should remove shoes before entering the home. The shoes are either left outside, or carried to a storage area that children ware not able to access.
- Distancing should be maintained where possible and practicable, and physical contact should be avoided if at all possible; using hand hygiene whenever contact is unavoidable.
- The employee/volunteer understands how to talk with the child(ren) in an age appropriate way about COVID-19 if the child wants to talk about it. The following are some examples from UNESCO:
- Use short and simple communication focused on the safety and well-being of the child and your family
- Say things like, “There are doctors and nurses and other adults doing everything possible to make sure everyone is well and taking care of those who need help.”
- Assure the child(ren) that most people will recover and that most children who contract the virus will get well quickly and easily.
- Employee/volunteer is able to discern behaviours in your child which may indicate he/she is having difficulty, and discusses this observation with you in a timely manner.
When My Caregiver Returns to my home, what are some signs that he or she should watch for that could indicate my child is having difficulties?
The following are symptoms that a child may be having emotional/mental health difficulties:
- Frequent crying or irritation
- Toileting accidents or bedwetting
- Changes in sleeping habits and appetite
- Frequent arguing or fighting with others
- Increased physical ailments
- Difficult to soothe or comfort
- Loss of interest in play or activities the child usually enjoys
- Increased temper tantrums
- Increased difficulty in separating from parent/primary caregiver
- Withdrawn or aggressive
- Preoccupied with perceived threats
- Unable to focus as the child did previously
- Trouble controlling impulses
- Regression in skills
Find more information on mental health for adults and children on our mental wellbeing guidance.
What about children with special health care needs?
It may be difficult for children who are considered high-risk or severely immunocompromised or have special needs to wear an N95 mask for protection. However, if they are able to do so, then they are encouraged to wear one. A childcare giver who works with a child(ren) who is considered high-risk or severely immunocompromised or has special needs is advised to wear an N95 mask.
Families of children at higher risk are encouraged to use a standard surgical mask if they are sick to prevent the spread of illness to others.
Children with severe cognitive or respiratory impairments may have a hard time tolerating a cloth face covering. For these children, special precautions may be needed.
Learn more about this and other advice in our guidance: