In the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak, CMS announced that they have halted all normal survey processes, switching their focus to an infection control model. For communities that have not been impacted by a COVID-19 outbreak, CMS says there will be an order of priority on the type of survey that will be conducted in the facility:
- All immediate jeopardy complaints and allegations of neglect or abuse
- Complaints alleging infection control concerns
- Statutorily certification
- Any re-visits necessary to resolve current enforcement actions
- Initial certifications
- Surveys of facilities/hospitals that have a history of infection control deficiencies at the immediate jeopardy level in the past three years
- Surveys of facilities/hospitals/dialysis centers that have a history of infection control deficiencies at lower levels than immediate jeopardy
Even if your community does not currently have COVID-19 cases, it’s important to be prepared for a thorough scrutiny on state and/or federal rules for infection control and emergency preparedness. This includes your COVID-19 strategic plan, information regarding PPE, and training staff on infection control policies.
Care Planning During COVID-19
COVID-19 is a virus that affects each person differently. There is no one size fits all approach to care planning for residents who may become infected, since they will experience symptoms differently. But their physical health isn’t the only thing to consider during this time. Protective measures of physical distancing and isolating seniors – who are already at risk of depression – can take a toll on their mental health. Having a care plan for all residents to keep them in touch with family and engaged in activities can help reduce the feeling of isolation and loneliness.
Training Staff on Infection Control
Information about COVID-19 is changing daily, and it’s more important than ever to evaluate the level of staff competency when it comes to infection control. Developing an educational program will help determine where your efforts should be focused and address any gaps.
Staff should have a thorough understanding of:
- Hand washing and alcohol-based hand sanitizer policy
- Proper disinfection techniques
- Isolation procedures
- Identifying symptoms in others and themselves
- Proper laundry and food handling procedures
Education and training should be required for all staff working in your facility, regardless of their role. Identifying an illness among residents is your first line of defense. Staff need to be able to recognize changes in a resident’s condition and know when those changes should be brought to a nurse’s attention. They should also be able to answer questions about the steps they are taking to prevent the spread of COVID-19.