Ann Whitfield

Auckland District Health Board


COVID-19 residential aged care facilities innovative preparedness training tool – empowering others to lead the change!

Concurrent session:

Introduction: The COVID-19 global pandemic had a devastating impact on the Residential Aged Care Facilities (RACF), particularly in Victoria Australia with over 700 lives lost within four months. Early July at the start of the COVID-19 Outbreak there were numerous requests for Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) Support. The author is an IPC expert and responded and supported the response and also developed an innovative RACF preparedness tool. Outbreak policies are rarely read till needed and are often high level and generic and ‘meaty’ in content. The author developed a situation board which overcame language barriers, was site specific and visually engaging.

Objectives/Aims: The aim of the COVID-19 RACF preparedness assessment tool was to implement and embed IPC practice in Outbreak and culture Nursing Leadership.

Key interventions:

  • Literature reviews included identifying the barriers in implementing IPC Practice within RACF and change management strategies.
  • Research acknowledged IPC COVID-19 preparedness assessments which supported targeted strategies.
  • Standardising products (including Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and posters for safe IPC practice.
  • Sustainability included; auditing, training, and visual reminders.
  • Communicated the vision of IPC excellence and acknowledge RACF expertise.

Methods/Intervention/Activity: The methodology was combined quantitative or qualitative research. The preparedness assessment tool covered essential IPC principles specifically designed for RACF, from IPC experts experience, research and daily reports during COVID-19 RACF.

 Results/Outcome: The pilot study demonstrated the initial preparedness assessments were 50-65% compliance with safe IPC and following IPC advice re-assessment data demonstrated 80-95%.

Discussion/Conclusion: The data highlighted gaps in following areas and verbal responses exposed RACF found the resources for COVId-19 conflicting and IPC advice inconsistent. However, empowering sites to use situation board pulled the Outbreak plans to life and collaborations.

Ann Whitfield is currently the Associate Nurse Director Infection Prevention & Occupational Health for Auckland District Health Board New Zealand. Ann’s IPC career commenced in Western Australia, and over the last 17 years has held positions in tertiary hospitals, State positons and has supported in outbreaks in West Timor, Liberia, Tanzania and recently in Victoria. This experience supports her role as a Board Director for the Australasian College of Infection Prevention and Control focusing on research and building capacity within Infection Prevention.  

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