November 19, 2020 | Net Health

2 min read

Infection Prevention Tips for SNFs

As COVID cases trend upward in skilled nursing facilities1, organizations can benefit from infection prevention plans capable of reducing transmission without eliminating visitation. With pandemic priorities rapidly evolving, however, SNFs may be best served by a practical prevention plan designed to both meet current challenges and facilitate future changes. 

SNF Statistics At-a-Glance

For SNFs, patient age makes a significant difference in both hospitalization and mortality rates. For residents 85 and older, hospitalizations are 13x higher than average2 and mortality rates are 630x higher than average3. As a result, nursing homes now account for 40% of all U.S. COVID-19 deaths4.

The Challenges of Skilled Care

Along with higher-than-average hospitalization and mortality rates, SNFs also face unique challenges for infection management and prevention. For example, the close-contact nature of SNF settings means that healthcare workers may become infection sources for patientsand SNFs are at greater risk of multi-drug resistant organism infections which may occur in concert with COVID-196.

Taking it Step-by-Step

To address the challenges and improve patient outcomes, SNFs can benefit from practical infection prevention plans that limit potential transmission routes and reduce overall risk. Some key steps include:

  • Boost basic hygiene. Better basic hygiene reduces the risk of any infectious transmission — but just 20% of nursing staff surveyed had complete knowledge of correct hygiene practices in a care setting7. By creating and implementing clear and concise hygiene guidelines, SNFs are better equipped to manage care conditions.
  • Test, test, test. As noted by the CDC, contact tracing is an effective disease control strategy that focuses on “notifying exposed individuals (contacts) of their potential exposure as rapidly and sensitively as possible.”8  For SNFs, this means creating comprehensive frameworks that leverage highly-accurate tests administered ASAP after specific symptoms are identified.9
  • Evaluate plans in practice. As national, state and municipal responses to COVID-19 evolve, so will the infection and prevention landscape. SNFs, therefore, can benefit from ongoing evaluation — and potential adjustment — of infection control measures and their impact on visitors, patients and staff.

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1) Managed Healthcare Executive, “Nursing Home COVID Cases Increase Due to Community Spread,” November 3, 2020.

2) CDC, “COVID-19 Hospitalization and Death by Age,” August 18, 2020.

3) CDC, “COVID-19 Hospitalization and Death by Age,” August 18, 2020.

4) CIDRAP, “Nursing homes site of 40% of US COVID-19 deaths,” June 2, 2020. 

5)  ISID, “Guide to infection control in the healthcare setting,” April 2018. 

6) CDC, “Preparing for COVID-19 in Nursing Homes,” June 25, 2020.

7) NCBI, “Nurses’ knowledge, behaviour and compliance concerning hand hygiene in nursing homes: a cross-sectional mixed-methods study,” August 5, 2020. 

8) CDC, “Contact Tracing — CDC’s Role and Approach,” August 10, 2020.

9) CDC, “Testing Guidelines for Nursing Homes,” October 16, 2020. 

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