How Nursing Homes Can Improve Infection Prevention During the COVID-19 Pandemic and Beyond

September 10, 2020

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, nursing homes and other elder care facilities are facing the challenge of maintaining proper infection control procedures. Coronavirus and COVID-19 complicate efforts towards ensuring a safe, hygienic environment in nursing homes. With approximately 3.8 million infections occurring every year, effective infection control protocol (including hand hygiene compliance) are necessary and effective strategies for nursing homes to maintain a consistently safe and therapeutic environment for its residents.

A vital first step for nursing homes and other elder care facilities is consulting the current CDC guidelines for disinfection and sanitation. Although there are general recommendations for reopening businesses in the wake of COVID-19, the CDC has also provided both general guidelines for long-term care facilities as well as more specific guidelines for nursing homes around infection control. Many specific guidelines center around preparedness for COVID-19 as well as more preventative measures, including nurse-directed triage protocols and signage around preventative measures such as symptom identification and hand hygiene. Although the CDC has general hand hygiene recommendations for healthcare providers, they have since provided specific guidelines around hand hygiene and COVID-19.

Hand hygiene compliance is not only a strong preventative measure in the spread of COVID-19 in nursing homes, but it is also an efficient strategy in preventing opportunistic infections. Studies before the onset of COVID-19 found that proper handwashing protocols lead to a significantly lower number of infections, greater staff compliance, and lower overall mortality in nursing homes. CDC handwashing protocols around COVID-19 include washing with soap and water for approximately 20 seconds in specific situations or using an alcohol-based hand rub (ABHR) with greater than 60% ethanol or 70% isopropanol.

A recent study indicated that hand hygiene compliance in nursing homes depended on access to handwashing equipment and supervisory role modeling. Incorporating proper hand hygiene equipment and practices can result in an overall reduction in mortality and antibiotic prescription rates. A 2019 study found that nursing manager-driven efforts resulted in 90 - 100% adherence to overall hand hygiene protocol. Ensuring consistent compliance to hand washing and hand hygiene behaviors is a challenge for nursing homes and other healthcare centers. In the wake of COVID-19, implementing further compliance can lower incidents of infection and ensure overall health for residents and staff.

Maintaining a consistent hand washing protocol in a nursing home can be especially challenging, but the Sanibit system can help nursing homes maintain higher infection control and prevention in the wake of COVID-19. Our hand hygiene compliance system uses special sensors and monitors to ensure consistent hand washing and sanitizing amongst nursing home staff. We encourage you to please contact us if you have any questions or want further information.

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