A new educational resource aims to help aged care providers and staff understand and respond to the coronavirus.
The resource, COVID-19 and Aged Care, has been developed by aged care education provider Altura Learning for residential and home aged care and retirement living providers and staff and will be made freely available this week.
It includes a video featuring microbiologist Margaret Jennings discussing COVID-19 plus guidance on hand hygiene and personal protective equipment.
Ms Jennings, an infection prevention and control educator in aged care and general practice, said COVID-19 was causing so much concern because it was new.
“We don’t have medication for it, we don’t have a vaccine for it, and it is new.
“The word novel means we have not experienced it in the human species before, which means that there is no immunity. So it is not like the flu,” Ms Jennings told Australian Ageing Agenda.
In the video, Ms Jennings discusses:
- what is known about coronavirus
- characteristics of COVID-19
- strategies to reduce infection transmission
- measures aged care organisations can take to prepare and respond.
She said key messages for aged care workers include the importance of self-care, lots of hand hygiene and looking for opportunities to reduce transmission.
“It is about your health status as a healthcare provider; that you don’t put yourself in the position of possibly transmitting it to somebody else,” said Ms Jennings, a co-author of the RACGP Infection Prevention and Control Standards (5th edition).
“The best thing we can do is to manipulate the reproduction number for this infection to make it quite low so that we are not transmitting it to the usual 2.5 people,” she said.
On helping to reduce transmission, Ms Jennings said she has stopped wearing hand jewellery and stopped using cash.
“Because not wearing hand jewellery means that my hand hygiene will be a lot more effective,” she said.
Social distancing is another important measure, which while challenging for care workers covers what staff can do to protect themselves and not transmit anything between care recipients, Ms Jennings said.
“That is all about hand hygiene and being very observant with the person’s symptoms and things like that.”
Video aims to distribute accurate information quickly
Altura Learning was already working on a resource and sped up its development and launch in response to requests from members.
It is offering the resource to the entire industry for free rather than just to members to help distribute accurate information quickly, said Yvie Webley, CEO of Altura Learning.
Altura Learning is well-positioned to help because it has access to a broad range of specialist subject matter experts, she said.
“Our mission is to inspire carers and also the providers to improve the lives of people.
“We see it as a responsibility of ours and also to get the information out there as quickly and as accurately as possible,” Ms Webley told AAA.
Using PPE correctly
Nicola Burton, learning and development manager at Altura Learning, said the resource includes guidance on how and when to perform hand hygiene and how to apply and remove personal protective equipment.
“If you’re caring for anybody who you know is infected with COVID-19, staff need to be wearing PPE because it is spread by droplet and contact. A gown, gloves, goggles and a surgical mask,” Ms Burton told AAA.
“N95 or P2 masks are recommended if somebody is having a respiratory procedure or more severe symptoms,” Ms Jennings said.
“Going in to care for somebody in their home, the surgical mask is adequate unless directed otherwise,” she said.
During her recent education activities in aged care facilities, Ms Jennings said most people asked about what to do for themselves, their families and at work.
“The answer is etiquette around sneezing and coughing,” she said.
It is also important to keep families informed, Ms Jennings said.
“The visitors will become very interested in what’s going on in their mother, father or sister’s facilities. And their own personal hygiene will skyrocket.”
Access the COVID-19 and Aged Care training resource here.
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