According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, older adults are more prone to infections due to natural, age-related changes in the immune system. Lifespace Communities is cognizant and vigilant about this fact by administering rigorous infection control measures to safeguard its residents, team members and guests from communicable diseases.
“We’re very passionate about protecting and nurturing the health of the people who live, work and visit our communities,” said Stacy Strait, RN, MSN, clinical nurse specialist at Oak Trace in Downers Grove, Illinois.
This passion can’t be overstated, with team members frequently going above and beyond to champion this cause. Through sheer personal initiative, Strait recently earned her Antibiotic Stewardship Specialist Certification (AS-BC™) through NADONA, the National Association of Directors of Nursing Administration in Long Term Care. To attain this credential, health care professionals undergo meticulous and comprehensive instruction on the proper administration of antibiotics.
“There’s still a strong mentality out there that leans toward prescribing and using antibiotics for everything, and this shouldn’t be the case,” explained Strait. “Infection prevention training for everyone, from physicians to families, is crucial.”
Lifespace recently kick-started its own antibiotic stewardship program akin to NADONA’s. The program was launched in accordance with regulations set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services in late 2017. Since then, several other Lifespace registered nurses have received their Certifications as Infection Preventionists.
“We’re extremely thankful for the receptiveness and support we’ve received for these efforts,” said Dr. Sara Hamm, senior vice president of successful aging and health services at Lifespace. “It’s encouraging because everyone is eager to understand and engage in their role in preventing the spread of communicable diseases.”
Lifespace team members in every department undergo training on infection control best practices throughout their careers. Residents are also frequently reeducated on the signs and symptoms of various illnesses, hand hygiene and disease prevention, and the appropriate steps to take when experiencing active symptoms of an active infection.
Additionally, Lifespace runs a robust annual immunization campaign during late summer and early fall to combat influenza and pneumonia. Not only does the organization stress the importance of immunization; it offers vaccines on site for both residents and team members. The initiative has been widely successful. During the 2017-2018 winter flu season, the worst in nearly a decade, Lifespace communities reported limited and minor active cases of the illness.
“Knowledge truly is power,” noted Hamm. “Few things are as important as protecting the people you care about, and it’s rewarding to see such positive outcomes.”
[In the photo: Stacy Strait of Oak Trace proudly showcases her AS-BC certificate.]
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