Assisted living health news

Top Tips for Preventing Colds at Your RCFE

Preventing the common cold in Residential Care Facilities for the Elderly (RCFE) is an essential step in protecting the well-being of staff, residents, and visitors. 

An assisted living administrator certification program equips managers with the knowledge and skills needed to create a good infection control strategy. 

These straightforward tips dive into some  you can easily implement as the season for the common cold approaches.

Create a Health Monitoring and Reporting System

One of the first steps in how to open a residential care home in California is to create a health monitoring and reporting system for residents and staff that facilitates early symptom detection and leads to fast medical intervention. Some key elements of a functioning system include:

  • Instituting daily health checks that may involve measuring temperature, asking about symptoms, and looking for coughs or other signs of respiratory issues
  • Keeping detailed symptom logs, particularly for residents with chronic conditions or anyone taking medications that might mask or exaggerate symptoms of a cold
  • Establishing clear and accessible reporting channels for staff to promptly report any health concerns or observed symptoms
  • Committing to regular review and analysis of health data to look for anomalies and trends that might indicate a potential outbreak
  • Creating an open line of communication with healthcare providers to ensure residents receive fast care, reducing the risk of complications

A good health monitoring system is proactive and creative. It aligns with the highest standards of care you learn about in an assisted living administrator certification program. It also underscores your facility’s commitment to public health.

Institute Vaccination Programs

There’s no specific vaccine for the common cold, given that it comes from many different viruses. However, the vaccines used to prevent the flu, RSV and pneumonia can also reduce symptoms and complications from colds that commonly affect the elderly. Most RCFEs offer seasonal flu and pneumococcal vaccines to contribute to herd immunity and lessen the potential for spreading respiratory viruses.

Elements of a Vaccination Program

Factors to consider when creating a vaccination program for your facility include education, scheduling, and record-keeping. Educational initiatives address common concerns and questions your residents might have about vaccines, such as worries about risks, potential side effects, and vaccine effectiveness. Put together some informational videos, brochures, or sessions to dispel myths and help residents and their families better understand the importance of community vaccination programs.

Scheduling and Collaborating

Timing is also important when creating a vaccination program, and getting ahead of flu season offers maximum protection. Creating public announcements and reminders will increase participation rates. You may also maximize the turnout if you help people schedule appointments or provide an on-site vaccination clinic.

You can track the program’s success with thorough record-keeping. Create a digital database of every individual and include the type of vaccine received, date of administration, and any side effects they experienced.

Collaborating with local healthcare providers ensures the safe and effective administration of vaccines. You can include this in other healthcare initiatives. For example, providers can assist in assessing your meal plans to ensure you offer proper nutrition for residents or provide well-visits at your facility.

Purchase Personal Protective Equipment for Staff

Personal protective equipment (PPE) is a key element in assisted living administrator certification training. Managers must maintain an organized and easily accessible stockpile of PPE. This can include setting up an inventory tracking system with expiration dates, reorder points, and inventory levels.

Proper disposal is also important in negating the spread of colds. For example, you need a designated biohazard waste container near resident rooms  to make trashing contaminated equipment fast, easy, and convenient. Periodic retraining and audits will ensure staff comply with PPE guidelines and quickly correct any mistakes they make.

Types of PPE and How To Use Them

Each type of PPE serves a specific function, from preventing the transmission of infectious droplets to avoiding contact with objects or surfaces already contaminated. Consider the types of PPE and how to use them effectively:

  • Masks. By now, you’re probably familiar with cloth, surgical, and N95 masks. Instruct staff to wash their hands or use sanitizer before placing the mask and ensure everyone wears their face covering over the mouth and nose with no gaps.
  • Gloves. Keeping latex-free gloves on hand ensures everyone, including those with a common latex allergy, has protection. Staff members must wear the appropriate size, create a snug fit, and dispose of gloves properly to avoid contamination.
  • Gowns. Isolation gowns protect the clothing. It should fully cover the torso and fit comfortably. Proper removal requires pulling the ties away from the body and rolling them inside out before disposal.
  • Eye protection. Goggles and face shields protect the eyes, nose, and mouth from droplets. Staff should only touch the attached bands during removal.

RCFE staff can significantly reduce the transmission of colds and other respiratory illnesses through PPE. Good assisted living managers ensure PPE practices align with CDC guidelines by making it part of the training.

Update Visitor Guidelines

During the assisted living administrator certification program, you learn about establishing visitor guidelines and the role that can play in preventing public health risks. These rules help meet the social and emotional needs of residents without compromising their physical health. Take notes from the White House’s Winter Playbook on COVID rules and consider adding some similar preventative measures to your visitor guidelines:

  • Have visitors undergo a pre-visit screening with temperature checks and symptom questionnaires.
  • During cold and flu season, establish scheduled visits to better manage the foot traffic within the facility.
  • Create well-ventilated visiting areas and ensure these spaces undergo frequent cleaning and disinfection to minimize the risk of exposure.
  • Limit the number of visitors and the duration of their stays for each visit and as a whole community.
  • Set up hand sanitizing stations in the visitor areas and encourage people to use them. 

During periods of high cases of colds and other viruses, you can implement more restrictive guidelines for visitors. For example, if you have a resident who is at high risk for severe illness, you can require visitors to use PPE, such as masks, while on the property. Post clear instructions and offer masks at the front desk so they have fast and easy access.

Get Assisted Living Administrator Certification From Professionals

The role of leadership in creating a plan to prevent the spread of viruses is irreplaceable. Completing the certification program offers preparedness and competence, establishing a necessary commitment to ongoing education. 

The more you know, the more adaptable you are, allowing you to serve everyone better. To learn more about RCFE administrator certification classes in California, contact Assisted Living Education with your questions and information requests.

About Assisted Living Education
Assisted Living Education has been operating in and improving the growing senior care industry for over 15 years. Founded by certified RCFE administrators, Jane Van Dyke-Perez and Bill Perez, we have licensed more than 1,100 assisted living facilities and built close relationships with the California Department of Social Services, assisted living managers, owners and industry professionals. As senior living care educators ourselves, we strive to contribute our knowledge and skills to continually improve senior care and the satisfaction of those working in the industry.