Nurse taking care of mature male patient sitting on wheelchair in hospital. Young woman and old man wearing surgical face mask for protection of covid 19 pandemic.

Making changes to where and how staff work and increasing pay appear to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in long-term care. That’s according to a study published this month of approximately 215 residents at three southeast Michigan skilled nursing facilities.

According to the study, COVID-19 was diagnosed in 29 of the 215 residents in the three Michigan nursing homes in the study between mid-March and late April. About half required hospitalization, and six died within 14 days of receiving a diagnosis. 

In addition to a focus on proactive testing of symptomatic and asymptomatic residents and staff, and a commitment to the acquisition of timely test results, several modifications to procedures involving staff played a role in reducing the virus’ spread, study authors noted.

First, all staff were re-educated on the proper use of personal protective equipment, and appropriate use and adherence was monitored daily. In addition, staff received hazard pay and meals and in one nursing home, a dedicated space to stay overnight if employees were concerned about possibly taking the virus home to their families. Special break areas were created in areas formerly used for communal activities for residents, to allow staff a space to eat as well as decompress. 

Further, operators asked staff members who worked at more than one nursing home to pick one and work there exclusively, to avoid carrying the virus between facilities.

Full findings are available in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society

This article appeared in the McKnight’s Business Daily, a joint effort of McKnight’s Senior Living and McKnight’s Long-Term Care News.