Confirmed/Suspected COVID-19 in an LTC Facility:
Preparation and Prevention
How You Can Help Prevent the Spread, Address Concerns
Please note that skilled nursing providers should consult the guidance put forth by CMS and the CDC, and the WI Department of Health Services Division of Public Health has issued this guidance. Assisted living communities can also consult AHCA/NCAL’s guidance. The CDC released a checklist for nursing homes and other long-term care settings as well to improve their preparedness. Providers should also check their local health departments for potential additional guidance.
- Prevent the spread
- Centers should review their infection prevention and control policies and procedures for droplet precautions among residents and staff. Assemble your Emergency Preparedness and Operations teams and prepare strategically for a potential spread of the virus.
- A facility should not admit a COVID-positive patient into the facility without a conversation with health care staff. DHS has recommended facilities reach out to local public health departments to determine if the patient should be admitted.
- Prepare Staff
- Acknowledge the current situation and share only verified facts. See our sample letter to employees.
- It’s important that any staff who are sick stay home. CDC has detailed guidance on this.
- Remind staff of hand hygiene and proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE)
- Inform housekeeping staff and other impacted staff about the importance of proper cleaning. See our sample handout in English or Spanish.
- Restrict all non-essential individuals from visiting your facility for the time being.
- Explain this to residents’ family members and friends
- Set up/help facilitate alternative forms of communication for residents: video, phone, or other methods
- Screen individuals who need to enter the building—including staff—for possible exposure to COVID-19. Use our checklist for screening individuals
- Any individual who checks YES to any questions on the screening tool should not be permitted to enter the facility.
- Any individuals that is permitted to enter should wash their hands or use hand sanitizer upon entrance and throughout their stay.
- Use our template log for personnel (Excel or PDF) to track employees & temps coming into the facility
- Restrict group activities within and outside the building.
- Cancel trips into the community at-large
- Restrict group activities and communal dining within the facility.
- Cancel activities with outside volunteers (e.g., school bands/choirs, pet therapists).
- Take stock of your personal protective equipment. If you are running low on supplies, or worried about running low, take these steps in this order:
- Work to preserve your supply by adjusting your practices to conduct multiple activities per visit to an infected patient’s room (see CDC guidance)
- Contact your local healthcare coalition
- Contact your state health department
- Contact your local health department
- Contact your local hospital(s) and other health care providers in your area about possibly sharing equipment
- Create a communication plan for all stakeholders. The World Health Organization has a helpful Communications Package that you can download and use.
- Make sure you have current emergency contact information for family members and loved ones.
- Keep residents and family members informed about efforts you’re taking and any new developments.
- Prepare for media inquiries.
If a staff member shows symptoms: Have them put on a mask and go home immediately.
If a resident shows symptoms: Implement droplet precaution procedure, move them to an isolated room, and contact the local health department.
- DHS requires this immediate action by a provider, per guidance issued on March 20:
- If a healthcare worker or resident of a facility is diagnosed with COVID-19, immediately contact their local public health department to receive further guidance on infection control.
- Continue to implement your infection prevention/control plan. Take proper isolation precautions for the individual.
- Communicate with staff. Here is a template letter/communication for staff after a case has been confirmed.
- Communicate with residents and families. Here is a template letter/communication for residents and families.
- Prepare to respond to media requests. For impacted facilities, download a template statement and talking points.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) poses a serious threat to older adults (especially 80 years old and older) and those with underlying health conditions. This is why the federal government and many state governments are restricting visitors to nursing homes and assisted living communities. We understand this is a difficult and stressful time. Those who work in long term care facilities are focused on your safety and wellbeing.
Here’s how you can continue to stay in touch with your loved ones, and how you can help:
- Ask the facility about other ways you can communicate with your loved ones, whether by phone, video or social media.
- Follow everyday preventive actions such as:
- Washing your hands or using alcohol-based hand sanitizers
- Covering your cough and sneezes
- Ask other individuals (including staff) to avoid touching you with handshakes, hugs or kisses. Ask them to wash their hands. Do not be shy! It’s okay to remind people.
- If you begin to experience a sore throat, coughing, sneezing or a fever, tell a staff member immediately.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) poses a serious threat to older adults (especially 80 years old and older) and those with underlying health conditions. This is why the federal government and many state governments are restricting visitors to nursing homes and assisted living communities. Exceptions may be made on a case-by-case basis for end-of-life visits. We understand this is difficult, but the safety and wellbeing of your loved one is our top priority.
Here’s how you can continue to stay in touch with them, and how you can help:
- Communicate with your loved ones through alternative ways for the time being, whether by phone, video, social media, or other methods. Ask the facility about ways they can help with this.
- Make sure your loved one’s facility has your emergency contact information. The facility may need to communicate with you about any developments regarding your loved one or about the facility as a whole.
- If you must come to the facility, such as a loved one is near end-of-life, coordinate with the staff ahead of time.
- They may ask you some questions before or when your arrive. This is to make sure you do not pose as a potential risk to residents and staff.
- If you are asked to not enter the building, please understand this is for the safety of your loved one and everyone else in the building. Nursing homes and assisted living communities are following direction from the government to prevent the spread of this virus.
- If you are permitted in, please wash your hands or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer immediately upon entering and throughout your visit. Avoid touching your loved ones or other individuals in the building. Again, we know this is difficult, but the virus is very contagious and social distancing is important at this time.