Covid-19: More nursing home staff need training to prevent spread of infection

United States 2020 © Christopher Lee

The essential workers who clean, cook, and do laundry for the residents of nursing homes in the United States play a critical role in stopping the spread of COVID-19. Yet these environmental services (EVS) staff rarely get the infection prevention and control (IPC) training they need to protect themselves and the vulnerable people they assist day in and day out. This a serious problem, especially during a pandemic that has devastated nursing homes across the country.

In response, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) brought in-person IPC training as well as mental health and wellness support to more than 80 long-term care facilities in the US during COVID-19.

“(We) do a one-on-one training with EVS staff,” says Kira Smith, MSF nurse manager for IPC who conducted site visits in Houston, Texas. “And that looks like going in and saying, ‘Okay, show me your cleaning practices. Why don't you show me how you clean a room?’ Then based on that, I'll clean the next room and show maybe some different techniques for a higher standard of IPC in cleaning. Then we'll go on to the following room, and she can show me what she learned. We can continue that way, practicing new skills. I can already see that it's making a difference and having an impact.”

MSF is reaching out to nursing homes and nursing schools to share the IPC Toolkit, developed to strengthen capacity among frontline workers facing the pandemic.