By Joanne Kaldy
Prevent a Cascade of COVID Related Challenges, Chaos
If you’ve ever played with dominoes as a kid, you know how important and delicate connections and alignment are. If one tile falls, it starts a cascade until none are standing. Protecting your residents and staff during a pandemic is a little like this.
Contact precautions and tracing help prevent individuals from getting sick, the virus from spreading, staff from calling out sick accompanied by a rush to find temps or subs to fill shifts, and on and on. If just one time a task is missed or data not shared promptly, it can all come falling down.
That is why RCare (a Senior Living Foresight partner) is focused on promoting contact precautions and tracing.
The Wheel Is There: Run with It
You don’t have to reinvent the wheel on contact precautions. There is up-to-date guidance available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Environmental Protection Agency. You also can rely on existing policies and procedures to help provide clear expectations for staff.
Additionally, you can consider your wireless nurse call equipment. Why? With mobile devices, there is an increased risk of carrying contaminants from place to place. Think about how often residents touch their pendants in common areas. For staff helping residents with activities of daily living (ADLs), do they know how to adjust this practice for patients with contact precautions? Is there a specific place for their mobile device on the cart? When they’re cleaning, do they remember to wipe pull cords and pendants? Do they clean electronics such as pagers and cell phones in a way that won’t damage them before they’re traded among staff?
Keeping everyone safe puts an extra burden on staff, especially when they need to follow protocols for collecting/sharing/acting on data and cleaning devices and equipment that go in and out of resident rooms and to work and home with staff and others.
It also is challenging to keep track of which nurse is doing which task and when. It’s important on the front end that everyone knows who is assigned to which device. When any of these tasks fall through the cracks, it can result in a domino effect that leads to an outbreak.
Medical and scientific experts agree that contact tracing is key to slowing the spread of COVID-19. This lets people know they may have been exposed to COVID-19 so they can self-quarantine and watch for signs and symptoms of the coronavirus. Especially important with COVID-19 is tracking staff contacts and length of contact along with handing this information off for contact tracing.
This is where RCare can help. The RCare Mobile app provides contact tracing capabilities that let communities automatically track which caregivers have assisted which residents, when, and for how long. Simple on-demand reporting shows you the contacts between caregivers and residents for every caregiver and every resident, along with the date, time, and duration, to help you quickly identify who has been in contact with an infected individual, whether a resident or a staff member.
Available for iOS or Android, the RCare Mobile app makes caregivers more responsive and prepared by providing real-time alerts along with detailed resident information. Secure voice and text messaging communications, between staff and directly to residents, help caregivers to seamlessly and efficiently provide care. An “I Got It” feature allows staff to claim calls to eliminate duplication and ensure all calls are answered. This also increases accountability, reduces alarm fatigue, and ensures workflow transparency.
Of course, a tool is only as good as the people using it. Strong, proven policies and procedures need to be part of the call system. This helps keep the dominos of quality care, infection prevention and control, and staff satisfaction from falling. It lets caregivers focus on their work and not have to worry about missing or forgetting steps or tasks.
When you have confident, engaged staff, you can better manage and track COVID-19 cases, prevent the spread of the virus, and avoid problems like turnover or unplanned absences that can make all the dominos fall as you are fighting a pandemic.
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