Aggressive prevention practices defend against worst flu season in nearly a decade.
This year’s flu season is more intense than any since 2009, with the number of flu cases and deaths continuing to climb, according to reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
People over age 65 are the most vulnerable and at greatest risk for falling ill. As of early February, Lifespace Communities is pleased to report limited and minor active cases of influenza A at its 12 senior living communities.
“We take a very aggressive approach to influenza prevention and control with both residents and team members,” said Sara Hamm, senior vice president of successful aging & health services for Lifespace Communities, Inc. “It includes influenza and pneumococcal pneumonia vaccine campaigns, education, and infection control and hand hygiene training throughout the year.”
Flu prevention practices at Lifespace communities start in early fall with flu shots offered to all residents and team members across all levels of living. The flu shots are offered as a free health and wellness benefit to team members, and Hamm says the vaccination is encouraged to protect team members at work and at home. Education on the importance of immunizations and the prevention and control of infectious illnesses is ongoing.
“Last year, we started providing infection control certification to many of our directors of nursing and nursing professionals at our communities’ health centers, and we’re working to have at least one at all 12 Lifespace communities,” said Hamm. “It’s important to educate all team members, residents and visitors on how they can play an important role in preventing the spread of Influenza and other contagious infections. We also try to make the education as easy and engaging as possible.”
At one Lifespace community, team members took part in black light demonstrations to help learn effective hand-washing and hand-hygiene practices. Hamm says she encourages people to sing the Happy Birthday song while washing hands to determine the appropriate time needed.
Flu education materials are prominently displayed at communities to help prevent visitors or family members from exposing communities to illnesses. Throughout the flu season, health experts at Lifespace communities and home office also work together to use infection control surveillance and tracking tools.
At Lifespace communities, a flu outbreak is considered to be three or more similar cases of infection reported at a community. Hamm says while there have been a couple of isolated cases of the flu at two communities, health team members reacted very quickly to treat and suppress the spread of influenza.
“So far, we’ve been fortunate this season to avoid major outbreaks,” Hamm said. “We’re committed to lifelong learning and teaching our team members and residents wellness and illness prevention practices to promote healthy environments.”
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