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In the event of an outbreak

Knowing what to do in an outbreak, and having the supplies on site to handle it, is the purpose of one provider’s newly developed kits, writes Darragh O Keeffe.

It’s been such a relief for staff. They feel more equipped and prepared should an outbreak occur.

That sense of organisation has been a key result of this,” says Gail Bates, clinical nurse consultant with aged care provider Anglican Care.

The organisation recently developed outbreak kits, covering influenza, gastroenteritis and scabies, for its seven residential aged care facilities.

It’s taken staff five months to develop and implement the kits. Work began with an audit of each of the organisation’s sites to examine the availability of stock.

A working party was established which, among other things, determined how much stock would be needed to cover 50 per cent of a facility over a five day period.

“We also needed to look at where we would store the kits once they were assembled. We had a facility manager from a nursing home and hostel, the hotel services manager and an educator on the working party. They devised the action plan, which then went back to our clinical governance to be reviewed, our finance department to be costed and finally to the CEO to be approved,” explains Bates.

“We looked for a provider who could supply all the stock we needed in the event of outbreak. This also gave us the opportunity to source the best price for the bulk stock. It was important to us to find a reliable supplier who could act as a one-stop-shop for all supplies initially, and then be available to us for reordering supplies following an outbreak.

“The outbreak stock was stored in sealed containers which clearly identified the contents of the box. Each facility was then provided with an entire outbreak kit.”

Tools to resource the kit were developed and a kit coordinator was assigned at each facility. It then became the responsibility of the kit coordinator to ensure the used kit was fully stocked following an outbreak and prior to restoring the kit.

A reordering form was developed in consultation with the supplier which contained the codes and total numbers of stock available in the kit. It then became a simple process for the kit coordinator to replace stock numbers and fax the order to the supplier.

The clinical governance team determined that in the event of a major outbreak in one of the facilities, kits from other facilities within Anglican Care would need to be easily transportable to provide extra stock.

“The kits are stored in closed containers and would be transported to the relevant facility by the maintenance department when required,” says Bates.

Another part of the development process involved producing or updating the organisation’s policies and procedures, development of surveillance documents; transfer forms for residents who may require hospitalisation, and a suite of laminated communication posters for staff.

All other necessary documents including outbreak checklists, education information sheets for residents, staff and visitors and containment debriefing forms were kept in the outbreak plan and placed into each kit for the coordinator to access. This manual provided staff with the resources required for a quick response in the event of an outbreak.

As part of procedure planning, the organisation’s intranet was used to develop an alert email which, in the case of an outbreak, would be sent to staff in different services and facilities across the group.

“This was an efficient way to ensure all services within Anglican Care were aware that an outbreak had occurred in a particular facility,” says Bates.

Similarly, the electronic care plans Anglican Care use were modified to produce reports for managers which readily identify the vaccination status of all residents in any facility within the group. Staff immunisation details are also available so as to assist with the rostering of vaccinated staff in the event of an influenza outbreak.

Education and training was another key element. Policy and procedures and infection control self-directed learning packages were developed. Information was provided to staff at staff meetings and through clinical practice updates, through the nursing clinical council, and outbreak coordinators at each of the sites.

Bates says that since the kits were developed, there has been an element of relief among staff.

“Staff know now that in the event of an outbreak they can access the kit readily and have all the resources available for an efficient and immediate response. Clear guidelines are provided on how they should respond to any of the three outbreaks mentioned above and the resources to contain the outbreak early.”

The organisation was recently accredited and assessors commented on the new kits, saying they were some of the best they had seen.

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