“Many accreditation programs already require home health agencies to have in place Infection Control Programs, but under new CoPs all agencies participating in Medicare will need to have specific programs focusing on prevention, control and ongoing education for both patients and staff, ” says J’non Griffin, owner of Home Health Solutions, LLC.
J’non is conducting CoPs training workshops across the country to help agencies prepare to meet the new regulations, including three full-day workshops this week in Tampa, Orlando and Ft. Lauderdale.
Here’s her 6-point outline for setting up a CoPs-compliant staff training program at your agency.
- IDENTIFY YOUR AGENCY’S SPECIFIC RISKS.
While there are some standard risks that every home health agency must address when developing an effective infection prevention and control program – influenza and tuberculosis, for example — it’s important for your agency to exercise some diligence in determining risks which may be specific to your geographical area, or to your patient population.
Some areas of the country experience a higher incidence of HIV, for example. Elderly populations may have less resistance to certain bacterial infections.
State health departments should have statistics for your area, many times online. But you can also start with a call to your local public health department to glean statistics that can help you identify infection risks specific to your agency.
Document the results of your risk identification efforts, and provide specific training to your staff in each of the areas identified, as well as measures to control the spread of communicable and infectious diseases commonly occurring.
- MAKE INFECTION CONTROL TRAINING PART OF YOUR AGENCY’S ORIENTATION.
There’s a lot of ground to cover with each of your new hires, but don’t neglect to include infection control measures in your orientation program. Implement a “See No Clients Until” rule at your agency precluding any staff member from making a home visit until infection prevention and control training has been received.
- DEVOTE ENOUGH TIME TO TRAINING.
Because many of the elements of an effective infection control program seem simple and obvious — including basic hand hygiene, protective nursing bag techniques, and exercising care with IV, catheter and gastric tube changes — it can be tempting for busy home health agencies to discount the importance of training.
Be careful not to shortchange your training sessions.
Devote at least a full hour to each session, and make certain each of your employees receives a full hour of training no less frequently than once a year.
- KEEP RECORDS.
Your agency should be able to show Surveyors at a glance who in your agency has received training in infection prevention and control, when the training occurred, which topics were covered, and who presented the training. You should also be able to easily identify staff members due for another round of training. Infection control and prevention measures should be addressed in training sessions that occur at least every 12 months.
- REQUIRE SIGNATURES.
Make certain that your records include forms signed by all staff members attesting to attendance in training sessions – and that the staff member understood the material covered in the session.
- EVALUATE AND UPDATE YOUR TRAINING PROGRAM AT LEAST ANNUALLY.
Self-evaluation is a consistent theme found throughout new Conditions of Participation. CMS wants to see evidence that your agency is monitoring its own efforts and addressing any shortcomings. Make certain that you apply this self-testing approach to staff training as well as all other aspects of your operation.
Take a look at your training program at least once every 12 months to see how well it’s working. Some questions to ask as part of your evaluation include:
- Are all your employees up to date on their training?
- Have you have an outbreak of an infectious disease among staff members since your last evaluation – and if so, how well were you able to control it? Do staff members need additional training to address deficiencies?
- Are you checking frequently with state or local public health authorities for current information and updating your agency’s risk assessment accordingly? Offer staff training in any new areas of risk identified.
We can help!
Home Health Solutions can help your agency with its implementation of an effective Infection Control program in several ways.
One of the most important elements of creating your program is the development of policies and procedures outlining your program’s scope and how it will be implemented. We’ve covered that in our Policies and Procedures Manual, one of two CoPs-compliant manuals ready for your agency to purchase and customize.
You can also read more about the development of your agency’s Infection Control program in Volume III of our CoPs COMPANION series of four guidebooks designed to walk you through the transition to new CoPs.
Check out both these products in our online store by clicking here.