Preparing Your Long-Term Care Facility For Survey During COVID-19

By Sara O’Brien, MS, RDN

This year your long-term care facility needs to prepare for an additional survey from the Department of Health. This survey will focus on your infection control practices to keep your residents and employees safe.

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How to prepare your staff

During your daily huddle or rounds, begin reviewing your facilities newly adapted infection control practices. Make sure all staff members are able to identify COVID-19 symptoms and could explain how it is transmitted.  Is your facility testing your staff for COVID-19 or have a system in place to screen for symptoms? Make sure your employees are able to explain your testing protocols and your facilities procedures/sick leave policy in the event they have a positive test or report symptoms.

Staff should be provided with a safe space to have lunch or take a break. Social distancing must be maintained throughout the facility along with appropriate signage.  All facilities should have implemented a face masks/respirator policy along with documented education on how to properly use PPE and how to prepare for a potential PPE shortage. If you do have a resident test positive for COVID-19 or report symptoms, your staff should be well prepared on an appropriate plan of action to isolate that resident. Some facilities may have a designated floor while others may have designated rooms.

Staff should be well-educated on how to properly care for a patient infected with COVID-19 even if there are no positive residents in the facility. Surveyors will be focusing in on the units’ cleaning and disinfecting practices. They want to see that the residents are in a clean environment. Facilities who are regularly educating their staff and keeping their infection control policies up to date will have no issues with this inspection.

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How to keep your Residents Safe

Depending on your resident population, it may be appropriate to educate your residents on the signs and symptoms of COVID-19. They should be educated to report symptoms right away and there should be a procedure in place for monitoring patients who cannot report symptoms themselves. All residents should be educated on how to protect themselves while in the facility such as using PPE, handwashing, covering their cough, and the importance of maintaining social distancing.

You may be asked if you are continuing with communal dining. The Department of Health wants to see that facilities are taking every precaution to minimize risk, therefore, communal dining and most activities inside and outside long-term care facilities are on hold. For now, residents should be encouraged to stay in their rooms.

How to keep your families Informed 

The Department of Health wants to see how you are keeping your residents’ loved ones informed. Make sure you’re sending out regular communication to families explaining all of the changes to visitation, infection control practices, and the changes to the residents’ schedules. Work with your residents’ families to find creative ways for them to connect with their loved ones.

Need some ideas? Check out the Detroit Anti-Loneliness Project created by Michigan dietitian and Dietitians On Demand consultant, Christin Morgan, MS, RD, CSG.

For more information on how to prepare your facility for survey inspections during COVID-19, click here.

Sara O'Brien, MS, RDN

Sara O’Brien, MS, RDN, is the Clinical Nutrition Manager for Blythedale Children’s Hospital a specialty pediatric rehabilitation center and long term care facility. She completed a combined bachelor’s degree and dietetic internship at the University of Connecticut and a Masters Degree in Dietetics at the University of Rhode Island. Sara is a specialist in pediatric nutrition and believes in an individualized patient-focused approach to nutrition.

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