April 30, 2020 0

Aged care: protecting the vulnerable from COVID-19

Posted by:Rhian Greener onApril 30, 2020

The effects of a pandemic on aged care facilities can be devastating. Since January, families have been physically distancing themselves from elderly loved ones in an effort to protect them from the deadly COVID-19 virus. 

Why aged care facilities are vulnerable

Those over the age of 65 are most at risk of complications from COVID-19, so with visitors, employees, and volunteers regularly entering facilities, the residents of aged care centers are left in a particularly vulnerable situation. 

This is evident in the news stories and statistics we’re seeing every day. Weeks after governments across the globe advised visitors against entering aged care facilities, clusters of cases continue to be reported in care homes across the world. Just this week, the UK confirmed care home deaths are continuing to rise, as hospital deaths decline.

Employees are at risk, too

It’s crucial to consider that it’s not just residents who are affected at this time.  Employees continue to put themselves at risk by attending work everyday, and find themselves managing the pressure of added scrutiny and increased workloads, too.

So what processes can we put in place to help employees manage the risk to residents, as well as themselves? And how can we continue these practices as lockdown rules relax in the future? 

How a People Presence Management tool can help

Log it, trace it, contain it

Let’s start with the obvious. The best way to trace everyone who’s been in contact with an affected individual is to digitally sign in (and out) every single person who comes into an aged care facility. Most visitor management apps will be able to help you with this, but WhosOnLocation goes a step further. 

Where possible and required, zoning of residents and staff can be adopted to minimize exposure. For example, you might physically distance your residents in groups, and pair each group with their own team of staff. Each employee/contractor can be assigned a zone within WhosOnLocation, so any outbreak can be tracked by the specific area they worked in, as well as their time on-site. 

Ask the right questions 

Although visitors might not be currently entering your facility, it’s important to remember the outside risk employees, service providers, and volunteers can pose. By screening everyone who comes on-site each day, you can identify anyone who poses a risk and prevent them from entering. 

Ask everyone signing in each day if they’ve felt unwell lately, been in contact with anyone who has symptoms, or returned recently from overseas. By enabling triggers, you’ll also be able to ensure the right people are alerted if someone answers ‘yes’ to any of the above. 

Touch-free sign in for employees and service providers

It might surprise you to know the average user touches your kiosk screen 35 times during the sign in process. Minimize touch points for all those working and volunteering on-site by using the WolMobile app instead. By allowing individuals to sign in using their own device, you can significantly reduce the risk of contamination.

A new process for the future

As we look to the future and a time when aged care facilities can begin to allow visitors once again, there are a number of ways to minimise risk during the transition period.

Maintaining physical distance 

Although it’s difficult to deny families the opportunity to visit their loved ones, as we transition back to normal you will likely need measures in place to limit the number of people on-site at any given time. Setting a maximum occupancy means the facility will never be overcrowded. As soon as the maximum number of visitors is reached, any further attempts to sign in will be automatically denied by the system. 

For further control, you can require that all guests are pre-registered. This gives employees greater oversight as to who to expect on-site each day, so they can plan accordingly. 

Make your policies clear

Require all visitors to use hand sanitizer before entering your facility? Only permitting those with a recent flu vaccination to visit? You can use both acknowledgment notices and your kiosk banner to inform your visitors of your policies when signing in. Receive alerts if a visitor refuses to acknowledge your policy, too, and view a record of all responses through the reporting feature.

Coming soon… go completely touch free

We’re currently working on another helpful feature – touch free sign in for visitors. This feature will make it possible for visitors to sign in using their own smartphones rather than the kiosk, minimising the number of touch points in your facility. More details to come. 

All features mentioned are available with all WhosOnLocation subscriptions. 

Not already a customer? Take a free 30 day trial today. 

About WhosOnLocation

WhosOnLocation provides people presence management software that monitors the safe and secure movement of people through buildings and work sites. Our powerful, cloud-based solution unites visitor, contractor, employee, and emergency management, enabling organizations to secure their facilities and ensure the safety of every person on-site. Armed with a rich, unified source of people presence information, our users are empowered to make more strategic, data-driven decisions that mitigate risk, reduce overhead costs, and streamline operations. Compliant with ISO:27001 2013 for Information Security Management. WhosOnLocation serves organizations in 42 countries around the world and manages over 60 million secure movements through thousands of locations each year. For more information, visit whosonlocation.com.

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