Empower your nurses to focus on resident-centered care

Nurses are the frontline of resident care – they spend more time at the bedsides of those in their care than most other healthcare team members. No one knows better than a skilled nursing professional that the best way to achieve better outcomes is to maximize direct contact with each resident. With a focus on individual needs and preferences, nurses can improve quality of care and life for their residents.

Staff nurses aspire to provide the best care possible to their residents, but are often frustrated by a lack of time, resources and autonomy.

Here are three ways your healthcare facility can help your nursing team to be more productive and elevate resident care.

1. Ensure adequate staffing

Making sure that your facility is staffed appropriately is a crucial element to providing high-quality care. Not only does inadequate staffing adversely affect your star ratings, it can overwhelm your nursing staff and result in unsafe care. With optimum staffing levels, your nurses are empowered to provide excellent resident care.

2. Equip nurses with the right tools

Frontline nurses need easy-to-use and readily accessible tools and resources to boost their autonomy and confidence in delivering evidence-based care. Make sure they have:

• Standardized checklists for assessments
• Actionable data to prioritize care
• Access to resources that expand their knowledge base
• User-friendly technology that promotes regulatory compliance

3. Simplify workflows

In today’s healthcare environment, it’s all too common for nurses to feel pressure to increase productivity and report a high administrative workload. Creating more efficient workflows is a frequently overlooked way to give nurses more time to focus on resident care.

Examine current workflows and look for “time-eaters.” One of the easiest ways to improve nursing efficiency is to reduce manual processes. Look for user-friendly technologies and applications that help nurses streamline their workflows and make more efficient use of their time.

Don’t miss the next blog article in this series to learn best practices for nurturing collaborative nursing!

Have you heard how skilled nursing facilities are simplifying quality management? Check out ABILITY CAREWATCH, the easy-to-use application that’s truly elevating resident care.


ABILITY and design®, ABILITY® and CAREWATCH® are trademarks of ABILITY Network, Inc.

Is your skilled nursing facility ready to respond to a case of COVID-19?

Skilled nursing facilities across the country have been working tirelessly to prevent outbreaks of COVID-19. At the same time, facilities also should be setting protocol in place to respond to a COVID-19 infection. More than 400 skilled nursing facilities have reported at least one case of COVID-19, and those reports are escalating at dramatic rates.1 Being prepared to deal with infected residents and staff can be the difference between isolated infections and a COVID-19 outbreak that impacts residents and staff on a large scale.

Responding to a COVID-19 infection

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all skilled nursing facilities have a COVID-19 response plan in place2 as part of their preparedness plans.

According to the CDC, a SNF’s COVID-19 response plan should include:

  • Processes for isolating residents who have or who are suspected of having COVID-19, including assigning staff to care only for those residents, creating a designated triage area and providing infected residents with bedrooms and bathrooms that separate them from the rest of the SNF residents
  • Transmission-Based Prevention protocol for caring for those with COVID-19 or other respiratory infections
  • Identification of spaces within the facility that can be used for COVID-19 response, including triage, isolation and Airborne Infection Isolation Rooms (AIIRs) for patients who require aerosol treatments3
  • A process for transporting residents who are infected with, or who are suspected of being infected with, COVID-19
  • Contact procedures for alerting local and state health officials to confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19
  • Communication plans for alerting residents, staff and families to the infection and plan for containing the infection
  • Protocol for monitoring residents with respiratory infections
  • Plans for monitoring and applying work restrictions to infected or exposed staff
  • Processes for screening and testing all residents for signs of COVID-19 or respiratory infections

Tracking COVID-19 in your facility

Your COVID-19 response and SNF infection prevention protocol also should include keeping careful track of staff, resident and visitor data. Your facility should be known and suspected infections, as well as respiratory infections with unknown causes, steps taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses and the effects of prevention protocols.

To help track COVID-19 cases, instances of respiratory infection and infection control protocol requirements, ABILITY INFECTIONWATCH provides the tools you need.



1. Khimm, S., Strickler, L. “Nursing homes overwhelmed by coronavirus: ‘It is impossible for us to stop the spread’.” NBC News. April 1, 2020.
2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Preparedness Checklist for Nursing Homes and Other Long-term Care Settings.” Accessed March 23, 2020.
3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Interim Infection Prevention and Control Recommendations for Patients with Suspected or Confirmed Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Healthcare Settings.” Accessed March 24, 2020.


ABILITY and design®, ABILITY®  and ABILITY INFECTIONWATCH® are trademarks of ABILITY Network, Inc.

Is your skilled nursing facility ready for a CMS infection control inspection?

To make sure skilled nursing facilities are doing all they can to stop the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that it would be stepping up inspections.1 Additionally, inspections will focus in particular on infection control protocols. How prepared is your skilled nursing facility for an inspection?

Evaluate the likelihood of an inspection

While it is always important to be prepared for an inspection, some skilled nursing facilities are likely to face increased scrutiny due to their inspection or violation histories. Facilities likely to be evaluated include those that have or require:

  • Complaints expressing infection control concerns
  • Immediate jeopardy complaints
  • Allegations of abuse or neglect
  • Recorded infection control deficiencies at the immediate jeopardy level in the last three years
  • Histories of lower-level infection control deficiencies
  • A statutorily required recertification inspection
  • Necessary revisits to resolve previous inspection issues
  • Initial certifications

Preparing for a CMS infection control inspection

To ensure that your facility is prepared for a CMS infection control inspection, first and foremost, you should review your infection control protocol and verify that all measures are being followed by your staff. You also should be reviewing your facility’s data to ensure you are meeting government requirements.

What to check

  • Recent respiratory infections where the exact cause of the infection was not identified
  • Respiratory symptoms reported for infections that both met and did not meet McGeer criteria
  • QAPI initiatives implemented to prevent outbreaks
  • Transmission-based precautions implemented, including type and length in previous respiratory infections and their effectiveness of controlling infection spread through your facility
  • Staff and visitor infections

Help in following CMS infection control protocol

As the COVID-19 pandemic takes hold in the United States, skilled nursing facilities are dedicated to following infection prevention protocol – and instituting additional infection control measures. Keeping track of the data and performance control measures necessary to monitor potential infections and meet CMS guidelines can be a challenge. ABILITY INFECTIONWATCH can help you track infections and CMS data to protect residents and stay compliant. Find out how.



1. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. “CMS Announces Actions to Address Spread of Coronavirus.” Newsroom. Accessed March 30, 2020.

ABILITY and design®, ABILITY® and ABILITY INFECTIONWATCH® are trademarks of ABILITY Network, Inc.


Your skilled nursing facility’s COVID-19 communication plan

The news surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak changes rapidly as new cases are detecting, new communities are affected, governments enact preventative measures and the medical community looks for treatments. Within your skilled nursing facility, timely communication with staff and residents, and residents’ families, is critical in helping to stop the spread of the disease and maintain calm. Sharing information effectively and quickly becomes even more important if a case is suspected or confirmed within your facility.

That’s why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that skilled nursing facilities have a communication plan1 in place as part of their COVID-19 preparedness. Your plan should allow you to quickly share up-to-date information on COVID-19 prevention, as well as to rapidly inform residents, staff and families of a COVID-19 infection.

As you evaluate the effectiveness of your COVID-19 communication plan, you should consider:

  • Whether you have the infrastructure in place to quickly share important information about COVID-19 with staff, residents and their families
  • How you can respond to the CDC’s COVID-19 updates and share that information with your SNF community
  • How you can verify that staff and residents have received and understood important information regarding COVID-19
  • The evaluation of your staff’s ability to put COVID-19 safety measures into place after those measures have been communicated
  • How communication fits into your COVID-19 emergency response protocol

The CDC recommends the COVID-19 communication plan for your skilled nursing facility goes beyond simply disseminating printed materials. You want to be sure that your residents, staff and community are receiving and responding to the important information you share. Staff should undergo COVID-19 safety training, residents should be educated on the measures they can take and your facility should have an educational library your residents and staff can turn to as a resource.2

Your skilled nursing facility plays an important role in monitoring and sharing information regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. Make sure you have a plan in place that will allow you to effectively share relevant COVID-19 information.

Tracking data related to the COVID-19 infection can help your facility respond to potential cases of the disease. Find out how ABILITY INFECTIONWATCH can help your facility monitor infection and infection response data.



1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Preparedness Checklist for Nursing Homes and Other Long-term Care Settings.” Accessed March 23, 2020.

2. Wilkins, D. “Coronavirus: Is your senior living facility prepared for a widespread outbreak?” McKnight’s Long-Term Care News. March 5, 2020.


ABILITY and design®, ABILITY® and INFECTIONWATCH® are trademarks of ABILITY Network, Inc.

What your skilled nursing facility should be doing to prevent a COVID-19 outbreak

COVID-19 presents a scary proposition for skilled nursing facilities. It spreads rapidly and has a high mortality rate among the elderly, those with weakened immune systems and people with pre-existing health conditions. For those reasons, most skilled nursing facilities have enacted dramatic measures to distance residents and prevent the disease from being introduced to the facility.

Common steps being taken by SNFs for infection prevention to combat the COVID-19 pandemic

  • Temporarily prohibiting visitors to the facility
  • Canceling communal meals and activities
  • Enacting social distancing by making sure residents are at least six feet apart at all times
  • Frequently cleaning and disinfecting high-touch areas
  • Placing alcohol-based hand sanitizer in all rooms and keeping handwashing stations well stocked
  • Closely monitoring residents and staff for signs of infection
  • Creating a clear plan for the treatment of residents who are suspected of having COVID-19 or who test positive for the virus

What additional measures can SNFs take to stop the spread of COVID-19?

While many of these measures have been drastic, SNF administration and staff may be wondering what else they could do to prevent COVID-19 from reaching and spreading through their facility. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has proposed that SNFs take the following immediate action to help fight COVID-19:

  • Keeping volunteers and non-essential personnel from entering the facility
  • Screening staff for fever and other signs of COVID-19 at the start of every shift
  • Enacting a communication plan to keep residents, staff and families up to date on all COVID-19 prevention measures and concerns
  • Increasing the use of personal protective equipment by staff
  • Ensuring that sick-leave policies are non-punitive and flexible so staff feel like they can stay home when sick
  • Preparing an emergency plan for staff shortages in case of a community outbreak
  • Reviewing data from past outbreaks to identify measures that were effective in stopping the spread of disease within the facility

COVID-19’s infection and mortality rates are rightly causing alarm for skilled nursing facilities. Following CDC’s recommendations for combatting the pandemic can help keep residents and staff safe from the virus. Facilities also should be carefully tracking data to monitor for signs of the disease and to document measures to follow infection control protocol. Find out how ABILITY INFECTIONWATCH can help your facility monitor COVID-19 and infection control measures.



Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Preparing for COVID-19: Long-term Care Facilities, Nursing Homes.” Accessed March 23, 2020.


ABILITY and design®, ABILITY ® and ABILITY INFECTIONWATCH® are trademarks of ABILITY Network, Inc.

Tracking COVID-19 symptoms in your skilled nursing facility

The sooner you identify a case of COVID-19 in your skilled nursing facility, the sooner you can act to stop the spread of the disease among staff and residents.

Tracking the right data in your skilled nursing facility can help you identify the signs of a COVID-19 infection early. It also can help you take the best steps to prevent the spread of the disease. Find out which data you should be tracking and which data you should be reviewing to identify possible risks in your facility.

Data to track amid the COVID-19 pandemic

In the case that COVID-19 does strike your nursing home, data could provide insight into who could have been infected, how the disease spread and how effective the preventative measures you took to stop the disease were in preventing an outbreak.

Information you should be recording and reviewing as part of your COVID-19 SNF infection prevention efforts include:

  • Recent upper respiratory infections that didn’t have a clear or diagnosed cause
  • Respiratory symptoms reported for infections that both met and did not meet McGeer criteria
  • Infections reported by staff or visitors to your skilled nursing facility
  • Measures you have been taking to prevent an outbreak of COVID-19 in your facility
  • Specific infection control measures taken when a resident, staff or visitor shows symptoms that could turn out to be a case of COVID-19

Reviewing data to help stop the spread of COVID-19

In addition to tracking new data, reviewing your existing data can help you identify and address COVID-19 in your skilled nursing facility. Knowing any patients who recently showed signs of respiratory infection can help you identify residents or staff who may have been affected by disease but only experienced minor symptoms. If you have a positive COVID-19 test in your facility, understanding everyone who was affected can help you discover how the disease has spread.

Your facility also can benefit from taking a look at data from previous infection outbreaks. What was the last outbreak that struck your facility? Reviewing how many patients were affected, how the disease spread and the effectiveness of the measures you took to stop the outbreak can give you insight into how COVID-19 could spread in your facility and the steps you could take to prevent it.

Tracking data to aid with SNF infection prevention

Data is a valuable tool when dealing with infection control in your skilled nursing facility. It can help you identify an outbreak early, and it can provide insight on the effectiveness of your infection control program. Find out how ABILITY INFECTIONWATCH can help your nursing staff manage infection control data to keep your residence safe. Talk to an expert now!


ABILITY and design®, ABILITY® and ABILITIY INFECTIONWATCH® are trademarks of ABILITY Network, Inc.