The era of COVID-19 is shining a spotlight on just how crucial an effective infection prevention program is for all health care settings - but never more so than in nursing homes. A dedicated infection preventionist role within long-term care settings is now a regulatory mandate. However, infection prevention personnel and supplies are strained due to the demands of COVID-19 control and mitigation. That's why the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has partnered with the Quality Improvement Organization (QIO) Program to present an eight-week series of trainings on infection prevention issues tailored specifically to nursing homes.
Week 1 started at the beginning - the top tactics to establish and maintain an effective infection program in long-term care. As an infection preventionist for the Health Services Advisory Group (HSAG), Eli K. DeLille, MSN, RN, CIC, FAPIC, is an experienced coach for nursing homes facing infection prevention challenges. HSAG is the Quality Innovation Network-Quality Improvement Organization (QIN-QIO) for Arizona and California, which provides no-cost quality improvement consulting for nursing homes and other health care providers for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).
DeLille understands the staffing and resource constraints of nursing homes and presented an eight-step plan to bring a long-term care infection prevention program up to speed in your facility and to keep it running. Some highlights include:
- Step 1: Train infection prevention leads using the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) infection prevention training program.
- Step 2: Complete an infection prevention checklist to assure consistent infection prevention training for all staff.
- Step 3: Complete a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention self-assessment tool to help identify gaps in your facility's infection prevention program.
- Step 4: Use this worksheet to help infection preventionists prioritize their risk preparedness for a variety of common nursing home scenarios.
- Step 5: Develop an action plan for COVID-19 and other infection prevention topics. This worksheet from HSAG can assist.
- Step 6: Solicit feedback from stakeholders, including medical directors, directors of nursing, pharmacists, administrators and more.
- Step 7: Educate, empower and engage staff members, providers and residents on infection prevention.
- Step 8: Set up processes for ongoing infection surveillance, documentation and data analysis.