New COVID education and training project is looking for nursing homes to sign up

The new “Project Echo National Nursing Home COVID-19 Action Network” is looking for nursing homes to sign up to participate in its training program.

The program was launched by the AHRQ (Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.)

The agency says that “We are actively recruiting nursing homes and training centers around the country to join this interactive community of practice to collaboratively advance improvements in COVID-19 preparedness, safety, and infection control.”

Any nursing home in the US can participate, AHRQ says, adding that the goals of the program are to “rapidly assist nursing homes in consistently implementing evidence-based best practices to protect residents and staff.”

You can learn more about the program here:

Applications Are Open for 2020 Innovations in Alzheimer’s Caregiving awards

It’s sponsored by the Family Caregivers Alliance, and winners in each of three categories get $20,000 in prize money. Deadline is Oct. 30. For more information:

CMS now encourages nursing home visits

COVID restrictions are taking a heavy emotional toll on those elders in longterm care, so the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CMS) issued new guidelines on Sept. 17 that encourages nursing homes to allow visitors using COVID precautions.

Here’s what the agency said: “While CMS guidance has focused on protecting nursing home residents from COVID-19, we recognize that physical separation from family and other loved ones has taken a physical and emotional toll on residents. Residents may feel socially isolated, leading to increased risk for depression, anxiety, and other expressions of distress.

“Visitation can be conducted through different means based on a facility’s structure and residents’ needs, such as in resident rooms, dedicated visitation spaces,
outdoors, and for circumstances beyond compassionate care situations.”

Here are some of their guidelines for infection prevention during these visits:

• Screening of all who enter the facility for signs and symptoms of COVID-19 (e.g., temperature checks, questions or observations about signs or symptoms), and denial of entry of those with signs or symptoms
•Hand hygiene (use of alcohol-based hand rub is preferred)
•Face covering or mask (covering mouth and nose)
•Social distancing at least six feet between persons
•Instructional signage throughout the facility and proper visitor education on COVID-19 signs and symptoms, infection control precautions, etc.
•Cleaning and disinfecting high frequency touched surfaces in the facility often, and designated visitation areas after each visit
•Appropriate staff use of PPE
•Effective cohorting of residents (e.g., separate areas dedicated COVID-19 care)
•Resident and staff testing conducted as required

The CDC added that all visits should be undertaken outside whenever possible, but that when the elder cannot leave their room, “facilities should attempt to enable in-room visitation while adhering to the core principles of COVID-19 infection prevention.” You can read the entire document here:

Caregivers need to be doing much more to keep elders active!

It seems that caregivers are not doing nearly enough to keep their elders active during the pandemic. A new survey by Altarum, a healthcare consulting agency, shows that 64% of nursing home residents are not leaving their rooms to socialize, and 54% reported they were not participating in any in-home activities.

Plus, visitors are way down, and the net result of all this is that 76% felt lonelier than usual.

The surveyors said: “The findings are stark, showing a drastic reduction in social activities and a steep increase in reported feelings of loneliness.” This is a serious situation in some nursing homes, and frontline caregivers can help considerably.

In fact, this survey clearly shows that frontline caregivers should be doing a lot more!
Get them out of their rooms, even if it’s for short, frequent walks. This is not rocket science… just simple walks up and down the hallways, maybe with occasional stops in the doorways of other elders, can help a lot. Or arrange for them to visit others in the nursing home, using masks and proper distancing. Or help arrange for games, such as bingo, that they
can play sitting in their doorways. Visit and chat with them more frequently than before, as you may be the only visitors they’re getting. What you don’t want to do is stand around doing
nothing to help your elders during these depressing times. Instead, think of some creative things you can do to help get through this.

Remember: The health and well being of your elders is your main job as a caregiver, and they need you more than ever before!
You can read their whole report here:

Feeling stressed? Need help?

COVID is causing a huge amount of stress among caregivers everywhere… not like anything seen in recent times. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) has a lot of information on its website to help you get through stressful times.

To access their free booklet Tips for Healthcare Professionals: Coping with Stress and Compassion Fatigue go here:

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