Researchers Identify Areas for IP&C Improvement in Long-Term Care, Assisted Living Settings

The COVID-19 pandemic disproportionately impacted long-term care and assisted living (LTC/AL) facilities in Canada, where infection prevention and control (IPAC) programs had been suboptimal. Srigley, et al. (2023) aimed to identify barriers affecting healthcare workers (HCWs)' adherence to IPAC practices during the pandemic in British Columbia in LTC/AL compared to acute-care settings.

The researchers conducted a web-based survey of direct-care providers and IPAC professionals across BC from August to September 2021, focused on knowledge and attitudes toward IPAC within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, and barriers that affected respondents’ abilities to follow IPAC practices throughout the pandemic.

The final analysis included 896 acute-care respondents and 441 from LTC/AL. More LTC/AL respondents reported experiencing these barriers: Following IPAC guidance was of lower priority compared to other tasks (29.1% vs. 14.7%, FDR = 0.001) and not their responsibility (28.0% vs. 11.2%, FDR = 0.001); limited supplies for personal protective equipment (PPE) (49.0% vs. 33.6%, FDR = 0.001), hand hygiene products (42.2% vs. 28.8%, FDR = 0.001), and cleaning/disinfection products (44.1% vs. 30.3%, FDR = 0.001); deficits in IPAC leadership support (46.2% vs. 38.9%, FDR = 0.012), IPAC education and training (46.9% vs. 32.0%, FDR = 0.001), and patient care knowledge for managing COVID-19 infections (46.6% vs. 36.0%, FDR = 0.001).

This survey found that barriers to HCWs’ adherence to IPAC practices during the COVID-19 pandemic were different in LTC/AL settings compared to acute care. Improvement efforts should focus on strengthening IPAC programs in LTC/AL, particularly enhanced IPAC staffing/leadership, increased training and education, and improving access to PPE, hand hygiene, and cleaning products.

Reference: Srigley JA, et al. Barriers to infection prevention and control in long-term care/assisted living settings in British Columbia during the COVID-19 pandemic: a cross-sectional survey. Antimicrobial Resistance & Infection Control. Vol. 12, article number 84 (2023).