Incorporating Antibiotic Stewardship into the Care of Residents in Nursing HomesPosted on by
Guest Author: Richard Gelula, MSW
Executive Director, The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care
Among the most important responsibilities in caring for people in nursing homes and other long-term care settings is taking the time to learn what the person or resident wants and needs. This requires sufficient numbers of staff and also people who are trained to listen, ask and observe – and who are also able to help make a response that meets the person’s needs. In addition to nursing staff, other people who can learn and address resident needs are family members, volunteers, long-term care ombudsmen, activity directors, and social workers.
The work of caring requires both a “human touch” and lots of compassion, but also an openness to learning and being an educator (to explain what the person needs and how to provide it). We can actually learn how to listen, how to understand complaints, how to respond to repeated requests and even outbursts by someone who is upset or agitated.
We must also learn about changes in medical care and medical practice. Often, the task of the caregiver or advocate is to ensure that the long-term care consumer is getting all of the medical help they need and is not subject to unwanted intervention or treatment. But what happens when medical practices change? Unless we know about them, we might not understand the reason for a medical decision, which makes it harder to advocate for the right care.
One medical change that is occurring is the national effort to preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics by using them only for their intended uses and only when necessary. This is called antibiotic stewardship. Does this mean that a resident with an infection won’t get treated with antibiotics? Actually, it means that use of antibiotics will be carefully considered. The goal of antibiotic stewardship is to make sure the right drug is given at the right time for the right reason. Quick action is taken to address serious bacterial infections, guided by the resident’s needs and test results. However, reducing incorrect or unnecessary antibiotic use is also key to protecting residents from antibiotic-related harms, like C. difficile.
The CDC is spearheading the nation’s efforts to ensure that antibiotics remain as effective as possible in stopping harmful infections. Consumer Voice has joined with CDC in its efforts to educate residents, families and advocates about infections and the use of antibiotics in long-term care.