Assisted Living Facilities across the state are being inspected by their county’s office of the Florida Department of Health in response to Covid-19. Better than Good News: DOH is coming to help you prevent the spread of the coronavirus in your facilities AND prepare you for forthcoming AHCA inspections, NOT to give you citations (though they certainly can if they see anything egregious).
In our view, it’s a win-win.
Still, it can feel overwhelming and frustrating. Here are 3 things you can do to prepare for the visit.
Policies and Procedures for Everything.
DOH wants to see that you have policies and procedures in place for infection control specific to Covid-19. You should already have a general Infection Control Plan, part of which is your annual testing of staff for communicable diseases, your policy on flu shots, your cleaning schedule, etc.
Now faced with the threat of Covid-19 coming to and spreading through your ALF, your Infection Control Plan needs to be clarified and expanded in writing.
TIP: Create a spreadsheet and/or schedule for sanitizing public/shared high touch areas 3x per day. Larger facilities are being asked to increase this to once every 2 hours(!). Be prepared to tell DOH that someone on each shift is sanitizing door handles, handrails, armrests, etc. with a sanitizing solution or wipe that has been approved to kill coronaviruses. Take the time to train your staff on why this is important and how to do it, and document this training, too!
At Bay Oaks Historic Retirement Residence, a standard license ALF in Miami, staff is encouraged to “A.B.S.S” aka “Always Be Sanitizing Surfaces.” To demonstrate this, we have a simple sign printed in the nursing station, kitchen and by the time clock. The Florida Health Department will be looking for a few posted signs, specifically.
o On and inside any elevator: No more than 2 residents at a time, stay 6’ apart.
o In the hallways: Remember to keep 6’ distance
o In the hallways, too: Stay in your room for your safety.
o On your front gate: Visitor Restrictions and Mask Policy
Sanitizer, Sanitizer, Everywhere!
DOH will want to see that hand sanitizer is readily available to residents and staff throughout the facility. Your Policy & Procedures should list or even map key locations where to find them. It’s a good idea to give your residents hand sanitizer. You can get small ones, label them with their names, and then refill them. Hand sanitizer by the gallon for cost savings! The most affordable we’ve found is from a Florida brewery-turned sanitizer company, The Miami Distilling Company email@example.com] ($22 a gallon). Let us know if you’ve found a better value! They produce their sanitizer as a gel; some of you tell us that the liquid lasts longer and can be easier to decant into small containers.
Kathryn Moore is Assistant Administrator at Bay Oaks Historic Retirement Residence, a 73 years young non-profit Assisted Living Facility in Miami, Florida. She is also Principal of KRM Strategies, an intergovernmental affairs and strategic communications consulting firm.