Wednesday, March 11, 2020

AHCA/NCAL Guidance: Taking Reasonable Efforts to Prevent COVID-19 From Entering Your Long Term Care Facility

We urge members to adopt these additional best practices when possible based on the growing data about the high mortality rate among the elderly over the age of 80 with chronic disease, who comprise the majority of our residents. Waiting until the virus starts to spread in the community, has been shown in prior viral epidemics to be too late.
Centers should review their infection prevention and control policies and procedures for droplet precautions among residents and staff.
  • Assemble your Emergency Preparedness and Operations teams and prepare strategically for a potential spread of the virus.
  • Messaging to the people we serve is best received when the tone is calm, reassuring, and direct. It is important to emphasize both how the entire community is preparing, as well as how individuals can prepare at home.
  • Communication with resident families is especially important during this time. 
  • Staff communication is also important. 
  • Prepare for media inquiries. 
What You Can Do Now

Follow everyday preventive actions such as:
  • Washing your hands
  • Using alcohol-based hand sanitizers
  • Covering your cough
  • Staying home when you are sick 
Providers should contact their state and local health departments if they are unable to place orders for equipment they need. It’s important to note that CDC does not recommend masks for the general public at this point because we need to prioritize that equipment for health care providers.

Due to the very serious impact COVID-19 will continue to have on our elderly population and those with underlying conditions, centers should ask families and visitors to avoid visiting your facility at this time, and limit entrance of non-essential individuals (see our guidance above). Help families connect with residents through alternative methods, such as calling, texting, video chat or social media. 

Prepare Staff
  • It’s important that any staff who are sick stay home. CDC has detailed guidance on this.
  • Acknowledge the current situation and share only verified facts. 
  • Refresh staff with reminder trainings on hand hygiene, proper use of personal protective equipment, and their responsibility to stay home when sick.
  • Reassure staff that it is a similar approach to closures due to weather emergencies – something they are more familiar and comfortable with.
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