LeadingAge’s New Tool Simplifies Infection Control for Senior Care Communities
With the unique challenges faced in the senior care setting and the vulnerable resident population of nursing homes, residents and staff are confronted with an elevated risk of infection every day. Infection control should thus be among the top priorities of senior care facilities. Reducing infections leads not only to improved quality of care and quality of life for residents, but can bring other important benefits such as lower operational and health care costs, increased staff efficiency, reduced staff sick leave, and improved staff satisfaction.
LeadingAge’s newly released CAST Infection Control Technology Selection Tool is designed to help providers decide which infection control technology is the best fit for their organization. The tool presents users with infection control technology options, their uses, their benefits, and other information to help providers select the right technology for their needs.
The Challenges of Infection Control in Senior Care Settings
With many types of infection control technology available, selecting the right option can be overwhelming. “Infection control technology includes several different modalities categories (non-mutually exclusive categories), such as hand hygiene compliance technology, surface/object cleaning and disinfection, air filtration and disinfection, health screening, contact tracing, and infection surveillance/control/reporting software solutions,” says Scott Code, vice president, Center for Aging Services Technologies (CAST) at LeadingAge. “Even within each modality category, there is a lot of variation on the different features/functions a particular technology may have. For example, an air filtration system may be portable and others are integrated into a HVAC system.”
The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the need for nursing homes to be able to strategically choose the appropriate infection control technology, which prompted LeadingAge to develop the tool. “Infection control and prevention has always been a priority for nursing homes, given residents’ vulnerability; COVID-19, however, truly brought it to the forefront,” says Code. “Given the virus’ high rates of transmission, our mission-driven nonprofit members’ interest in new approaches to infection-control and prevention has grown throughout the pandemic. We wanted to help our members and other aging service providers better understand the role infection control technology can play, as well as sift through all the various options.”
The CAST Infection Control Technology Selection Tool
The CAST tool prompts nursing home staff to answer a few questions, then helps identify the products that meet the facility’s specific requirements. In addition to the tool, the CAST Infection Control Technology Selection Matrix outlines the features and functionalities of shortlisted products, helping to narrow down a nursing home’s options.
In addition, LeadingAge has released a white paper called “Infection Control Technologies: A Primer and Provider Selection Guide,” which provides a detailed look at the available infection control technologies, their uses, and their benefits. Five CAST case studies also highlight provider approaches to using infection control technologies, as well as lessons learned.
LeadingAge generally refreshes resources annually, and the tool will be included in the annual update. “Each year participating vendors update their product information and new vendors participate,” says Code. The case studies will also be updated.
In developing the Infection Control Technology Selection Tool, Code notes that it was surprising to see how hand hygiene compliance technology was not only able to help with overall hygiene compliance, but also with contact tracing. “Contact tracing helped staff identify where an infected person moved to quickly test and contain the spread of infection, especially during COVID-19,” he says.
Code explains that LeadingAge designed the tool and resources to help improve the aging experience. “We strive to help organizations understand the full range of infection control technologies available in the marketplace, their uses, and their benefits,” he says. “In addition, we hope to help providers plan for, select, and implement an infection control solution that meets their organizational goals. Based on members’ response to this toolkit, there is a significant appetite for innovative offerings in infection control and prevention.”
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