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 Coronavirus in Long-Term Care Facilities

How to Protect Yourself and Your Loved Ones

As the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak continues to evolve, it is important for long-term care consumers, family members, Ombudsman programs and other advocates to be informed and take precautions in order to prevent the spread.  

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the health risk of COVID-19 for the general public in the United States is low at this time.  However, just as with influenza and other viral infections, older adults and some individuals with preexisting medical conditions are at an increased risk for more severe illness.

HandwashFor Everyone

Tips for Prevention:

The CDC recommends continuing consistent everyday preventative actions.  See the CDC's Stop the Spread fact sheet.

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Stay home when you are sick. (Symptoms of COVID-19 include cough, fever and shortness of breath.)
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
What to Know:
  • Long-term care facilities are required to have plans in place to monitor and prevent infections.
  • The CDC has issued specific guidance to long-term care facilities for strategies for preventing the spread of COVID-19.
  • The general strategies the CDC recommends to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in long-term care facilities are the same strategies these facilities should use every day to detect and prevent the spread of other respiratory viruses like influenza.

ConsumersFor Individuals Receiving Long-Term Care

  • Stay informed about what your facility is doing to prevent infection.
    • It is important that the facility has a process for notifying residents, family members, and visitors so everyone can take steps to decrease the chance of spreading the infection or getting ill.
  • Remind facility staff to wash their hands often and cover their mouths when they cough.
    • Use your voice! It's okay to remind your healthcare provider to practice good hygiene.
    • Ask your facility to post signs to encourage good hand hygiene and cough etiquette for staff and visitors.
  • Ask your facility about their infection prevention plan and policy for visitors.
  • Ask your facility about their staff's sick leave policies in order to ensure that sick staff members are staying home.
  • Find more information about what to ask your facility to help prevent the spread of infection.

ConsumersFor Family Members and Friends of Those Receiving Long-Term Care

  • Stay home if you are sick! Visitors can inadvertently spread infections in long-term care settings.
    • If you're unable to visit your loved one in the facility, find creative ways to communicate with them like email, phone calls, FaceTime, or asking a healthy friend or family member to drop by for a visit or to deliver a note.
  • Wash your hands, practice good cough etiquette, and observe facility staff to ensure they are doing so too.
  • Encourage good hand hygiene by placing alcohol-based hand rub inside your loved one's room.
  • Stay informed about what the facility is doing to prevent infection, and ask questions about its infection prevention policies.

EveryoneFor Long-Term Care Ombudsman Programs

  • Stay home if you are sick!
  • Wash your hands, practice good cough etiquette, and observe facility staff to ensure they are doing so too.
  • Follow your program's policies and procedures and connect with your supervisor and/or State Ombudsman with questions about state protocols.
  • Keep informed by following your state and local public health sources to understand COVID-19 activity in your community.

ResourcesAdditional Resources

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