One of the major areas of concern since the beginning of the pandemic has been keeping residents in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and retirement communities safe. A nursing home in Kirkland, Washington, in fact, was the center of one of the earliest outbreaks in the U.S. Since then, similar facilities across the country have been on high-alert and have effectively quarantined its residents in many cases to reduce risk. Still, nursing homes and other elderly living facilities have continued to see confirmed cases, putting staff and their elderly residents at risk. One of the problems is these care facilities are very closed ecosystems where COVID-19 can spread rapidly, which means accurate, real-time data is needed to identify potential exposures.
Contact tracing has seen its share of media attention over the past several months and has been part of many new workplace safety solutions that have been launched. Recently, though, it has been shown to be an effective tool in reducing the spread of COVID-19 in nursing homes.
More specifically, CarePredict’s PinPoint contact tracing solution has been shown to reduce infections by 52% in such facilities over conventional manual systems.
The CarePredict solution makes it easy to quickly identify all close contacts to isolate (and test) them, thanks to the company’s Tempo wrist-worn wearable. The device includes a variety of sensors to track movement and location, and includes a touch-button call feature for real-time communication, along with other features that help keep care facilities safer.
With the CarePredict solution, staff can identify all residents, staff, and visitors who were exposed to a confirmed or suspected carrier within seconds. In addition, these potential exposures can be classified by risk level to help staff more effectively react and prioritize high-risk contacts – such as those who pose a greater risk of transmitting the virus within the community.
in addition to proving individuals who may have been exposed, CarePredict also tracks locations within a facility that may have present a risk of secondary transmission, such as specific common areas, surfaces, doors, or other locations. The location tracing feature allows facility staff to not only properly disinfect these areas, but can also trace other residents and staff who may are at risk of secondary exposure.
Integrated RFID technology can be used for access to residents’ quarters or other areas within facilities, creating a touchless environment, further reducing risk of spreading the virus. It also provides an additional security measure to help ensure the general safety of residents and staff.
Additional findings from the study and testing showed:
- Symptom-based screening and temperature monitoring alone were the least effective control measures resulting in 60-71% more cases and 10-20% more deaths. These methods had limitations in identifying presymptomatic and asymptomatic cases and failed to capture atypical COVID-19 symptoms often exhibited by seniors.
- The results underscore the need for a rapid infection control measure in high-risk, high-density settings. Time-intensive processes like manual contact tracing are slow to identify all the contacts of a person under investigation [PUI] and allows these contacts more time to transmit the virus within the facility.
While there will always be some level of risk associated with any facility that involves staff and other personnel coming from outside locations, as well as guests, contractors, and delivery services. Absent of completely isolating residents in their rooms, there’s probably no way to entirely eliminate potential exposure. But, by leveraging modern technology and detailed data, risk can be reduced and appropriate action can be taken quickly to minimize spread.
While this study specifically focused on residential care facilities, there’s little doubt that technology-based contact tracing can help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in other environments, including colleges and universities that have seen breakouts at the start of the school year.