MITIGATION refers to actions taken to reduce the risk of a hazard occurring. If you have flu or norovirus outbreaks yearly, what can you do to prevent outbreaks? Do you have enough hand hygiene stations throughout the building? Do you have enough PPE and precaution set-ups? Do you provide flu vaccinations free of charge to all staff and volunteers? Do you have a policy on staff flu vaccination?
PREPAREDNESS is a continuous cycle of planning, organizing, training and equipping, exercising, evaluation and improvement activities. Education of staff, residents and family members on how to prevent getting the flu should be done before the flu season starts, Walking rounds and on-the-job training on hand hygiene, precautions and proper use of PPE should be on-going. Have outbreak paperwork ready to go that includes templates for communication, inservices, care plans and signage.
RESPONSE is how you respond to the outbreak or incident. Trainings, exercises and drills are done so people know how to respond in an emergency. As an infection preventionist your policies and procedures should be up-to-date and the staff should know what to do, especially if you are not available.
RECOVERY is about bringing back normalcy to a community. Outbreaks can be exhausting. Hold a “hotwash”, which is an after-action discussion, with your staff. Encourage them to talk about what they view as strengths and weaknesses. What can be improved? Should protocols be changed? Validate their concerns. Praise them. Let them feel they are being heard.
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