We recently spoke to a group of clients leveraging our software solutions for skilled nursing facilities to share their experiences treating patients, keeping everybody safe, and operating optimally during the COVID-19 pandemic. During this discussion, they shared best practices they developed from lessons learned as the pandemic evolved, and we decided to turn some of their lessons into tips and suggestions that might provide new information and ideas for healthcare providers who are treating patients in risky healthcare settings every day.
- Provide in-room or bedside treatment only. Try to conduct therapy appointments in individual rooms. In cases where groups are absolutely essential, they should be held in the same room for safety.
- Minimize gym use or discontinue altogether. Ideally, you should close your gym, but if you need to keep it open, minimize the number of people and use distance markers to maintain social distancing. If possible, only allow one patient at a time in the gym.
- Share gowns by keeping one gown in each patient room. Even the most prepared nursing homes are running short of personal protective equipment (PPE). If you are short on gowns, hang one gown on the back of each patient door to be shared by all staff working with that patient.
- Leverage rollators for transportation. To help keep therapy equipment sanitized, transport it with sanitary wipes or spray/wipes using rollators.
- Pair therapists and patients and keep them in the same wings of the facility. As a safety precaution, assign therapists to work with the same patients and if possible, have them only use certain areas of the facilities to limit exposure and virus spread.
- Screen all employees at the beginning and end of a shift. This includes a temperature check and questionnaire to identify potential symptoms. Consider restricting employees from traveling between buildings to maintain social distancing and reduce unnecessary contact.
- Investigate and implement telehealth options. Telehealth has become a great tool to continue patient treatment. Consider videoconferencing, FaceTime or e-visits to reduce the need for staff to travel between buildings.
- Use designated buildings as a safe harbor for new patients. They must remain in this safe harbor for 14 days if they are going to another building. If they are going home, they can leave earlier.
- Check your local social media for community mask makers if your policy allows. You can get free covers to extend the life your N-95 masks from local groups, made to order.
- If you are a leader, step in to assist with care and conduct inspirational meetings. It means a lot to staff when leaders roll up their sleeves and work alongside them in the trenches. Along these same lines, conduct short gatherings to recognize staff, provide inspiration, answer questions or and quell fears that may be arising among staff members.
These are desperate times, and proven, useful health and safety information is vital. As tactics in combating COVID-19 grow, we must be ready to listen and implement—not only for ourselves but for our families and communities as well. This pandemic will not end overnight, but we must stay strong and do our part to stop the spread and support those in need and on the frontlines.
Remember: we’re in this together and we’ll get through this together.
To learn more about our Skilled Nursing and Senior Living solution, click here. Net Health Therapy for SNFs provides contract therapy companies, skilled nursing facilities (SNFs), assisted living facilities (ALFs) and continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) with the industry’s leading therapy management software.