Reflections of executive staff using the SaferCare Victoria COVID-19 clinical screening tool in a residential aged care service during the pandemic in Victoria, Australia

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Sonali Pinto
Zoe Wainer
Susan Oliver
Joseph E Ibrahim

Keywords

Aged care, COVID-19, nursing homes, screening

Abstract

Screening tools are useful for identifying disease during an early and pre-symptomatic stage. Older people dwelling in residential aged care services are particularly susceptible to COVID-19 and if infected have a high mortality rate. This article describes the lived experiences and reflections of some of the executive staff of an aged care service following the use of a COVID-19 clinical screening tool developed by SaferCare Victoria. The reflections were based on experiences of the contributors to this article during the second wave of the pandemic during 2020 in Victoria, Australia. Open learning sessions were held via teleconference for staff to be trained in use of the tool. The tool was used in a variety of different circumstances for monitoring all residents. At times residents would decline to have certain observations taken and clinical staff were initially concerned about the potential extra work. The regular use of the tool to track a residents’ clinical observations over a 14-day period allowed opportunities to identify early subtle changes from the individual’s baseline. There was a perceived improvement in detection of residents with dehydration, delirium, urinary tract infections and those approaching the need for end-of-life care. Using the tool appears to assist in shifting the aged care service to a more systematic approach to responding to the pandemic. This appears to benefit the organisation, facility, staff, residents and their families however, more empirical research is required to test and validate these perceptions.

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