The Long Haul: Supporting Infection Control and Compliance Now, and Long Term

By Matt Mello, VP Senior Care 

We recently connected with Jennifer Leatherbarrow, a senior advisor and Manager of Clinical Consulting at Richter Healthcare Consultants, to discuss the current pandemic-related challenges senior care facilities are facing around infection control, inspection and compliance demands, and the often-manual processes many are still using for reporting. Some of these practices could be leaving your skilled nursing facility extremely vulnerable.  

The hard reality is, the senior care community is in this for the long haul.  Your heightened processes and practices around infection control, reporting and compliance, should not be temporary in response to COVID-19.  Solid processes and preparedness plans should be put in place long term. Sadly, it is unlikely this will be the last epidemic or pandemic we experience.  

There are still so many manual practices that facilities continue to perform that can lead to infection spread and that waste precious resources that could be better focused on care delivery. Paper Medication Administration Records (MAR) and Treatment Administration Records (TAR), and manual facility screening and inspection checklists, are just a few examples of paper-driven practices that not only hinder a facility’s ability to find efficiency, but also don’t contribute to accurate and timely reporting.  Not to mention they can be a birthing ground for bacteria as these documents often live in rotation for 30-day periods and can’t be sanitized. (Yuck!)  

Inspection and compliance failures are real and costly, especially now.  So how can you be better prepared?  

Investing in technology may be one of the simplest and most affordable ways you can boost infection prevention and even provide services related to telehealth or telemedicine. Check into stimulus funding that is currently available for COVID-related purposes. You could add extra mobile devices such as tablets to assist with inspection processes or screening. Applications like Stay Open by Fully Managed can also dramatically improve your facility's ability to maintain compliance, track vaccinations and even enhance exposure management. Moving beyond paper processes can save valuable time and help you gain instant insights into the data you collect. More information at your fingertips equals better decision making and that’s definitely of value going forward.  

Facilities also need to train their teams regularly, ensure PPE stock is available at all times and act as if a surveyor could show up at any moment, because in truth, they can. If you and your team always assume that today is inspection day, you will develop solid practices and be ready for anything.  

We recognize how difficult the past year has been, and there is no perfect solution to all the challenges your facility currently faces. However, COVID-19 has taught us all that we were not as prepared as we could have been. Infection control and maintaining compliance will always be a priority in senior care. It’s time to develop a better plan that considers all we’ve learned, incorporates industry best practices and uses technology to support improved processes and decision-making. If that isn’t on the table for discussion now, it should be.   

Reach out if Fully Managed can help de-mystify what technology investments today, can mean for your organization tomorrow.  

Listen to our podcast with Jennifer Leatherbarrow from Richter for more insights into current challenges and best-practice suggestions on how to be as prepared as possible during the pandemic and beyond.