Memo: WellNest’s Updated COVID-19 Safety Precautions and Client Guidelines

As of: July 30, 2020

Written by: Phil Harper, Owner, Wellnest LLC

This memo provides important details as it relates to COVID-19, protocols within our Residential Cleaning Division, and maintaining a healthy home.

For protocols within our Commercial Cleaning Division, please reach out to phil@gowellnest.com.

This is a critical time; as “Microbial Warriors”, we know our work has a direct impact on slowing the spreading of COVID-19. We take our responsibility of combating this virus very seriously. We have been diligently becoming informed to ensure we are following the right guidance and understand the why, how, where, and when behind our role as Microbial Warriors. We have participated in many hours of detailed trainings and webinars provided for the cleaning industry by:

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
  • The Worldwide Cleaning Industry Association (ISSA)
  • The Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC), a division of ISSA
  • The Academy of Cleaning Excellence (ACE)
  • The Association of Residential Cleaning Services (ARCSI)

Outline of Our Safety Precautions and Protocol Related to COVID-19, Sections Include:

I. Expert Science-Based Knowledge

II. Training Around COVID-19 and Influenza Cleaning Protocols

III. Financial Support for Our Professionals

IV. Social Distancing

V. Use of Proper PPE

VI. Cleaning and Disinfecting Procedures

VII. Cleanliness and Sanitation of Cleaning Materials and Equipment

VIII. Other Key Personnel Procedures

IX. Our Clients’ Responsibilities

X. Tips for Maintaining A Healthy Home Between Cleanings

All procedures outlined below are effective through at least June 10, 2002

I. Expert Science-based Knowledge

As leaders in the cleaning industry and a premier, leading janitorial provider in the Northern Virginia area, we invested aggressively in the power of science-based knowledge as COVID-19 began its spread. Our certifications and knowledge as it specifically relates to COVID-19 include:

  • Successful completion of the GBAC’s Online Fundamentals Training Course with an Emphasis on SARS-CoV-2 / COVID 19.
  • Our Owner, Phil Harper, is an Accredited Infection Prevention Expert as certified by The Academy of Cleaning Excellence.
  • We are active members of the Worldwide Cleaning Industry Association (ISSA) for relevant best practices, industry research, and expert guidance
  • We are active members of the Association of Residential Cleaning Services (ARCSI) for relevant best practices, industry research, and expert guidance

II. Training Around COVID-19 and Influenza Cleaning Protocols

  • Proprietary, extensive training around COVID-19. We built a proprietary, extensive training for all of our team members around COVID-19, including: Cause, Spread, Impact, Necessary Precautions While Cleaning, Necessary Precautions While Off Work, and Our New Cleaning Procedures and Protocols. Included in this training are multiple videos and graphics from the CDC and GBAC. Knowledge Checks and Tests were developed and required to ensure comprehension. We are continuing to add updates to the training and rolling out as information is known.
  • New training platform to relay new information quickly. As part of the above, we built a new Training Platform using Trainual, a process documentation and training platform. This allows us to deploy information to our teams on a real-time basis as more information becomes known over the coming months.
  • Frequent team communications. Routine daily check-ins via phone and socially distanced meetings are / have been / will continue to be performed within our company about the protocols outlined within, their health, questions, and concerns.

III. Financial Support For Our Cleaning Professionals

  • Employee Relief Fund. In the early stages of the pandemic, we established an Employee Relief Fund for clients who elect to continue paying for their cancelled cleanings but 100% of all proceeds (net of ~3% credit card fees) are being distributed to clients. This allowed us to continue paying at 50% to 75% of regular paychecks until we received government assistance.
  • Government Support. We are in the midst of an 8 week program with the Government to retain our workforce within the SBA’s parameters. This is in addition to the Employee Relief Fund. These two Funds allow us to be paying our teams at nearly 100% of pre-pandemic wages.
  • Sick leave / FMLA. We are grateful for government support in helping us provide sick leave and FMLA so our teams do not feel any pressure to work. We adopted these programs immediately. We have communicated this in many different ways and do have several employees on Sick Leave or FMLA to take care of their families during this time.

IV. Social Distancing

We are in constant discussion with our teams on the importance of social distancing in the office, in client homes, and outside of WellNest in their personal lives. We have put processes in place to highly limit the close interactions of our team.

  • Maintaining distance. We have minimal interaction with people and the public before, during, and after cleanings. Our crews are adhering to social distancing during every cleaning. We ask all of our clients to respect social distancing while we are in the home (see Client Guidelines below).
  • Outdoor, touchless dispatching.  During this time, we are dispatching teams from our parking lot instead of in our office. Vehicles are packed the day prior by the teams themselves to avoid touches across our office and field teams. Still maintaining a centralized dispatch allows our Office Staff and Owner to answer any questions from our teams (while social distancing) and ensure protocols are properly followed.
  • Staggered dispatching. In addition to outdoor, touchless dispatching, we are staggering the dispatch process from our office to ensure we can still maintain social distancing during this process. This means we may arrive late to 8 AM jobs. Teams all return at different times in the afternoon.

V. Use of Proper PPE

  • Wearing face coverings. Our teams are wearing face coverings at all times in clients’ homes. We have provided three-layer face coverings with PM 2.5 filters for all team members to ensure everyone has a sufficient face covering. Many of our team members are wearing their own as well. All face coverings, whether self-provided or company-provided, are washed nightly. Please be mindful that wearing face coverings while working is hot. We’ve advised our crews to catch their breath without a face covering as needed but to do so in a proper manner through social distancing and disinfection procedures.
  • Disposable gloves and hand washing. Our crews are provided with three pairs of disposable gloves per individual cleaning, which are then disposed of with the trash that is removed from the home. When a part of the cleaning is performed in which gloves cannot be worn, our crews are washing hands thoroughly and frequently. They are also washing their hands before, during and after jobs, and each team carries proper hand sanitizer to use in addition to hand washing. Everyone understands the importance of washing frequently for 20+ seconds.

VI. Our Cleaning and Disinfection Procedures

  • Disinfection procedures using an EPA-registered disinfectant cleaner that has been qualified for use against SARS CoV-2. Along with our regular cleaning, we are performing disinfection procedures on counters, tabletops, bathroom fixtures, bedside tables, doorknobs, railings, light switches, remote controls, refrigerator handles, and other high-touch surfaces using one of the EPA-registered products. We use our green products for purposes of general cleaning to remove dirt and debris (primarily soap and water). The active ingredient of the hospital-grade disinfectant we are currently using is hydrogen peroxide. We also use bleach and Lysol Disinfectant Spray. All are on the list of recommended products.
  • Maintaining supply of disinfectants. After checking in with our respective suppliers and vendors, at this time we are not concerned about supply of our disinfecting agents or our vendors’ supply.

VII. Cleanliness and Sanitation of Our Cleaning Supplies

  • Wearing disinfected, work-approved crocs. With the shortage of shoe coverings and the need for such coverings to go to healthcare, we provided every member of our team with a pair of work-approved, non-slip crocs. These crocs are only worn during jobs. They are hand-washed with soap and water on a nightly basis, dried in the vehicle overnight, and also disinfected between jobs. This ensures we are not wearing shoes in your home.
  • Freshly washed cleaning apron for each job. Our cleaning professionals are wearing a freshly washed cleaning apron for each job so aprons are not worn in multiple houses. Aprons are washed at the proper temperature by a professional laundry service using a combination of detergent, bleach, and a specialized laundry sanitizer.
  • Freshly washed dusters for each job. Feather dusters are no longer used. Flexible microfiber dusting sleeves are now used and are changed between jobs so dusters are not being used in multiple homes between washes. Dusting sleeves are washed at the proper temperature by a professional laundry service using a combination of detergent, bleach, and a specialized laundry sanitizer.
  • Cleanliness and sanitation of towels. Microfiber towels are washed at the proper temperature by a professional laundry service using a combination of bleach, detergent, and a specialized laundry sanitizer. Teams are given extra towels for the day to ensure they are replacing towels constantly. We are happy to use a clients’ microfiber towels and / or other supplies. Reach out for more details about purchasing your own towels that we can use to clean and disinfect your home.
  • Vacuums are disinfected. Our teams are using the CDC-recommended disinfectant to disinfect the different components of our HEPA-filter vacuums between cleanings, including the vacuum brushes.
  • Supply caddies are disinfected. Our teams are using the CDC-recommended disinfectant to disinfect our supply caddies between jobs.
  • Vehicles and other daily touch points are disinfected. Our teams are using a recommended vehicle disinfectant to disinfect vehicle handles, steering wheels, and other touch-points in our vehicles between each job. Additionally, vehicles are deep cleaned weekly.

VIII. Other Key Personnel Procedures

  • Morning temperature checks. We have established temperature checks within our dispatching process. We are using temporal (forehead) thermometers that are disinfected between uses. These have a 1 degree margin of error so should an employee read a temperature of 99.5 or above, we are taking their temperature with the ear thermometer for a precise reading. The ear thermometer has a 0.2 degree margin of error, therefore any individual with an ear-based temperature reading of over 100.1 degrees and will not be allowed to work until either doctor approval or 14 days without symptoms.
  • Contact tracing. We have adopted Contract Tracing policies consistent with CDC’s guidance. This is aligned with the Sick Leave / FMLA policies noted above as we ensure our teams do not feel any financial pressure to work.
  • No temporary staff. We do not hire temporary staff and do not have any intention on doing so. This policy of only hiring full-time, professional, trusted employees has been in place for years.
  • Constant office cleaning. Our office is cleaned and disinfected multiple times a day by a member of our Office Staff, who is the only person who remains in our office from 8 AM until the next day.
  • Avoiding touching faces. Our teams have been trained on the importance of not touching their faces.

IX. Our Clients’ Responsibilities

  • Households must be completely symptom-free. We will NOT serve any homes or spaces with ANY cold or flu-like symptoms, tests awaiting confirmation, or confirmed COVID-19 cases. We will continue to deny service in these instances. Households must be symptom-free for 14 days. Tell us immediately if you fall into either category; if you do, we will gladly drop disinfecting supplies off outside of your house to support you during the global shortage of product.
  • Open your windows. Proper ventilation and air flow are quickly becoming known for their importance in combating the spread of COVID-19. Open your windows before, during, and after the cleaning. If the windows are not upon our arrival, we may ask you to do so. Freshly cleaned home + fresh air = healthy home.
  • Maintain social distance. Upon our arrival, please stand back from the door to allow our team in. If you must be in the same room as the team, for everyone’s comfort, please wear a mask and please remain at least six feet away.
  • Communicate with us what you need us to do in order to remain socially distant. We can work around your work / kid / life schedule inside the home. We can start on the upper level while you and the family are on the bottom level and then simply switch. This has always been a normal practice for us as we often work around young kiddos. Our teams have always been trained to be adaptable; this is nothing new.
  • Contact us to plan for social distancing. Reach out anytime! We can work with you to come up with a plan for when / where we clean so everyone remains socially distant.
  • Ask us for more precise ETA on the day of the cleaning. We know you may want to be out of the house during the cleaning and also know it’s tough to plan to be out of the house for the arrival window plus the length of the cleaning. Email us, call us, text us anytime on the day of the cleaning for a more precise ETA.
  • No homemade DIY cleaners. For the protection of our team, we will not be using any DIY or homemade cleaners in your home. We are highly trained professionals deploying science-based cleaning and disinfection procedures with a preference towards green cleaning, when able. Our disinfection procedures are performed using only EPA-registered disinfectant products that have qualified for use against SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19
  • Prepare for delays and longer cleanings (initially). With the large majority of our clients cancelling for the past several months, and families all home way more than normal, jobs are unpredictable and will take longer. We are doing our best to maintain our two-hour arrival window but please plan for delays. Additionally, a cleaning that normally took 2 hours may take 3 hours or longer so we can reset the home accordingly. Please plan for both. Reach out anytime for a more precise ETA on the morning of the cleaning.
  • We are waiving all cancellation fees. We expect everyone in our clients’ households to also be healthy when we are in their home.
  • Be kind and considerate. No details need to be provided here. We are all in this together.

X. Tips on Maintaining A Healthy Home Between Cleanings

Washing your hands, adhering to social distancing, and other preventive measures from the CDC, WHO and other reputable institutions must be followed. Please listen to them.

Here are some cleaning tips to deploy at home between cleanings to maintain a clean and healthy home:

  • Should you choose to cancel cleanings, please ensure you are frequently disinfecting and doing so properly. This is increasingly important as you begin returning to worok, leaving your home, visiting the grocery store, packages and mail are arriving, and other deliveries are happening.
  • In addition to door knobs, railings, etc, disinfect your phone, computer mouse, keyboard, computer chair, tablets, and all other high-touch surfaces multiple times a day. Also remember to clean and disinfect your car door handles, car seats, high chairs, baby walkers, etc.
  • IMPORTANT!!! WHEN DISINFECTING AT HOME, PLEASE MAKE SURE TO CLEAN THE AREA FIRST IN ORDER TO REMOVE ANY DIRT AND DEBRIS. DISINFECTING CANNOT OCCUR UNTIL THE AREA IS CLEAN.
  • IMPORTANT!!! WHEN DISINFECTING AT HOME, MAKE SURE TO READ THE LABEL TO UNDERSTAND THE “DWELL TIME,” MEANING HOW LONG TO LET THE SOLUTION SIT ON THE SURFACE IN ORDER TO KILL GERMS. THE SURFACE MUST BE VISIBLY WET WITH CLEANING PRODUCT FOR THE STATED AMOUNT OF TIME IN ORDER TO BE EFFECTIVE. SIMPLY SPRAYING AND  OR WIPING IS NOT ENOUGH; READ THE FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS ON THE LABEL THOROUGHLY.
  • When disinfecting at home, make sure you research what products can be used on what specific materials. For example, some Lysol products will damage stainless steel. Bleach and peroxide products will damage fabrics.
  • Be mindful about where you’re placing mail, packages, shoes, kids’ coats, etc.
  • Continue to follow CDC and WHO guidance as it’s released.
  • Please be kind and considerate.

We are continuing to listen to the guidance provided by the aforementioned experts. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask. You may also reach out to two members of the ISSA who have generously provided their direct contact information — Rosie Rangel at rosie@issa.com and Erin L. Lasch at erin@issa.com.

Again, our disinfection processes will reduce the risk of exposure from pathogens that may have been introduced to your home from outside sources such as returning to work, social interactions, and grocery store runs.

As always, please reach out with any questions. I am personally addressing each client question one-by-one. My email is phil@gowellnest.com; email is best but if it’s urgent, please call me directly at 240 514 4949.

Stay healthy,

Phil Harper and Team (your Microbial Warriors)
Owner, WellNest Home Cleaning