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Managing the prevention and control of infection in care homes

10 July 2020

The prevention and control of infection has always been a high priority in care home settings, but with the heightened infection risk of Covid-19, the focus on good infection control practices is as important as it has ever been.

The NICE Quality Standard for Infection Prevention and Control [QS61] states that there is organisational responsibility to have a strategy for continuous improvement in infection prevention and control, including accountable leadership, multi-agency working and the use of surveillance systems. But what does that mean in practical terms?

In this blog post, we explore the infection prevention and control guidance set out by the Department of Health in context of the current situation and demonstrate how Radar can support care providers with compliance against the CQC’s Regulation 12: Safe care and treatment.

As a care provider, you will need to demonstrate:

  1. Systems to manage and monitor the prevention and control of infection

Risk assessments have long-been standard practice in health and care settings but with the constantly evolving Covid-19 situation, the process of active and dynamic risk management has come to the fore. You must be able to clearly demonstrate that you are taking a risk-based approach to the management of care home residents, their environment and the risks others may pose to them – and the provision of data is integral to this process.

Radar supports care homes with risk management through configurable risk registers and integrated action plans.  We have supported our customers in the logging of Covid-19 related incidents which has helped them to map occurrences and anticipate consequential risks as a result.  Access to real-time data around Covid-19 can help with understanding trends such as where you have pockets of staff self-isolating or shielding or where Covid-19 is having the biggest impact.  This can support critical decision making throughout your organisation to protect the safety of residents and staff.

 

  1. Provision and maintenance of a clean and appropriate environment

Effective operational management of your premises can facilitate the prevention and control of infections. From cleaning schedules to waste disposal, there must be a clear delineation of tasks and actions with evidence of adherence to best practice standards. With enhanced cleaning schedules and the need for more frequent deep cleaning, the assignment of roles and responsibilities is essential to ensure nothing is missed.

You can assign, categorise and prioritise all your operational tasks and actions through Radar. Tasks such as the decontamination of equipment can be scheduled and automated notifications and reminders make sure each individual understands their responsibilities. Internal audits can also be carried out through Radar to ensure processes are adhered to and tasks are being carried out effectively.

 

  1. Provision of information on infections to residents and their visitors

With hand washing being the most effective way of preventing infection from spreading, it is imperative that the communication of this and other processes which support infection control procedures is consistent and in line with recognised guidelines.

Whether you have one or multiple care homes, documents and collateral to communicate information on infections can be stored on Radar to ensure a standardised approach. These standard documents can be easily and quickly disseminated throughout the organisation with automated notifications when they are downloaded or used.

 

  1. Provision of information on infections to any person concerned with providing further support or care

Continuity of care within your care home or between multiple care settings is essential. Communicating specific incidents or events and lessons learned to the workforce can reduce the risk of reoccurrence and support preventative action planning.

Radar provides the ability to communicate important updates to relevant team members with processes in place to confirm they have read and understood the information; promoting accountability and an audit trail of information exchange.

 

  1. Prompt identification of infection development

To ensure residents receive the appropriate treatment and care to reduce the risk of passing on the infection to other people, prompt action must be taken. In the case of Covid-19, residents must be checked twice daily for a fever or other symptoms and if symptomatic, they should be isolated and full infection control measures instigated.

Process workflows can be created in Radar to ensure when an incident is logged, you are guided through the required next steps.  Workflows can be customised in line with scenario planning and best practice guidance and can include automated notifications internally or to external bodies, mandatory data input or escalation of actions.

 

  1. Your workforce is fully involved in the process of preventing and controlling infection

In a bid to move away from infection control being a ‘tick box’ exercise, your workforce should understand and have the competency to manage infection control protocols.

Radar supports ownership of tasks and actions by giving your team the autonomy they need to get the job done whilst ensuring you still have real-time oversight of task completion and associated results.

 

  1. Provision of adequate isolation facilities

Any resident presenting with symptoms of COVID-19 should be promptly isolated and where possible, separated in a single room with a separate bathroom. Ensuring you have a process in place for this eventuality will minimise disruption should you need to initiate the process.

You can use Radar to risk assess scenarios such as the temporary relocation of residents. Audits can be carried out to determine the suitability and accessibility of the isolation location.

 

  1. Adequate access to laboratory support as appropriate

Whether it’s testing/swabbing for a single symptomatic resident or informing the Health Protection Team (HPT) of multiple symptomatic residents, everyone must be aware of the protocol surrounding the current advice for reporting of Covid-19 cases.

Radar can support automated process management which is particularly important at times of escalation. Radar’s Covid-19 toolkit provides access to important guidelines, supporting response protocols in line with Government guidance and best practice standards.

 

  1. Maintenance and adherence to policies

Policies should be designed to ensure the individual organisational procedures help to prevent and control infections. Every care provider has a responsibility to ensure policies are up to date and that the workforce reads, understands and acknowledges policies.

All your policies and procedures can be stored within Radar.  You can schedule the dissemination of these policies at regular intervals either when they are updated or as a ‘refresher’ with automated processes in place for each member of staff to acknowledge receipt.

 

  1. How care works are protected from exposure to infections (so far as is reasonably practicable) that can be caught at work

Education plays a critical role in the prevention and control of infection within health and care settings.  Ensuring your workforce is capable and competent gives you peace of mind that they understand the specific role they have to play in infection control.

Radar can help you customise, manage and track your employees training, appraisals, supervisions and compliance requirements to ensure a fully competent and compliant workforce.

If you would like to discuss how Radar can support your care home with infection control measures during the Covid-19 crisis and beyond, book your demo here.