Minimizing the Risk of Workplace Violence

Workplace violence is recognized as a hazard in the health care industry and​ can affect workers, residents, and visitors. Workplace violence includes any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening disruptive behaviors that occur at the workplace. Taking the following steps can help you minimize the risk for violence in the workplace. These steps are considered best practice and are NOT required.


Creating a Path to Emergency Preparedness

“Death Toll in Kentucky Floods Rises to 28 as Area Braces for More Rain.” This headline from late July is all too common. Crises—natural disasters, active shooter situations, the pandemic, power grid issues, and more—are increasingly becoming the norm. While long term care facilities must have disaster preparedness plans, it’s time to revisit these and make them flexible enough to address whatever situation comes your way.


Keep Safety and Compliance in Mind When Decorating for the Holiday

Celebrating the holidays in a healthcare organization can be an uplifting experience for both residents and staff. However, decorating can oftentimes lead to some unintended consequences. Here are some quick tips to help ensure your organization maintains a safe environment that is compliant with the Life Safety Code® this holiday season:
  • ​Combustible decorations are only permitted if they are flame retardant or when they are in limited quantities such that the hazard of fire development and spread is not present.  For example, a handful of holiday cards attached to a door can be considered a limited quantity. A door completely covered with holiday cards could be considered excessive. Section of the 2012 edition of the Life Safety Code® outlines the combustible decorations requirements in detail.
  • ​Live Christmas trees are not permitted. Living trees in a balled condition with their roots protected in soil shall be permitted if they are maintained in a fresh condition and not allowed to become dry.
  • Artificial Christmas trees are only permitted if they are labeled or identified as “flame retardant” or “flame resistive”. There are products that can be applied to artificial trees to meet this requirement.
  • Use only UL listed holiday lights and wiring.
  • Do not visually block egress, exit signage or any fire safety equipment with decorations. This includes fire alarm pull stations, visual fire alarm notification devices and fire extinguishers.
  • Do not hang decorations from sprinkler heads.
  • Do not use flame producing decorations including candles.
  • Do not use extension cords to power decorations.
Finally, monitor decorations that are brought into the facility by residents, families and friends. Ensure anything electric is UL listed, is not heat producing and does not involve candles/flames. Otherwise, enjoy the decorations and the resulting holiday spirit!
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Making hospital transitions safer during the pandemic

Care providers can take action to make hospital and emergency room transfers safer for residents during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a group of eldercare experts.

These experts have published a comprehensive guideline on safe and effective transitions that includes the following checklist points (summarized):

  • Medically stable patients who are appropriately isolated should not be transferred to the emergency department. Multidisciplinary teamwork can support providing care in place.
  • Address advance care planning with every patient and family in the context of COVID-19.
  • Carefully weigh the risks and benefits of transferring residents with a febrile respiratory illness to an emergency department. This includes an evaluation of the patient’s current state of health, patient-centered goals, and an assessment of prognosis in the context of COVID-19 illness.
  • Consider “forward triage” when considering patients for care transitions. This involves assessing the resident’s level of acuity. This should involve a conversation with the receiving emergency department physician.
  • Warm hand-offs are critical. Nursing home and emergency department providers need to communicate prior to a transfer and as medical decisions are being made, including the ability of the nursing home to safely accept a returning resident.

Read the full article at

Are You Prepared?

The easily recognized Scout Motto is “Be Prepared,” so is your facility? Even though no one wishes for disaster, it is imperative and required that every employee be ready for anything if their care facility is at risk. How long will it take you to get residents sheltered from a tornado? Are there security measures in place for gunfire? Are you ready for when every conceivable step in your plan is trumped by escalating disaster?

Download the eBook: ALWAYS SAFE, NEVER SORRY: Emergency and Disaster Preparedness for Long-Term Care Facilities and find out.

Are YOU Prepared?

November 17, 2017,  from Gero Nurse Prep staff member Anji Heath

The massive fire that occurred at the Barclay Friends Senior Living Community in West Chester, PA this morning serves as another reminder of the importance of having an emergency plan in place. Fortunately, no fatalities have been reported. Though the cause of the blaze has yet to be released, I would speculate that given the low number of casualties and no fatalities reported, this facility got it right and was prepared for such an emergency.

I welcome you to refer to the AHCA/NCAL Emergency Preparedness page of their Website.

Are you prepared?

UNMC’s Brittany Nordby BSN, RN, EMT, shares her thoughts on how to be ready for disasters.

You are walking down the hallway doing your routine checks and you start to smell natural gas.  You are sitting at the nurses station charting and the power goes out.  You are in a tornado warning and you need to move your patients.  You answer the phone and get a bomb threat.

Do you know what to do? What does preparedness mean to you?  Do you feel prepared if a disaster were to hit your workplace or the community you work in?   Will you shelter-in-place or execute your facility’s evacuation plan?

Disasters come in all forms and can occur in an instant.  Biological, chemical, radiological, and natural disaster emergencies are all types of emergencies that can occur in the environment around us.  As nurses, we are the frontline providers to protect our patients in the event of a disaster.  We must ask ourselves if we have the skills and knowledge to effectively care for our patients during these tragic events.  Educating yourselves and your fellow nurses is the best way we can prepare for disasters that can occur in our workplaces and communities.

Planning, training, and exercising are all ways to assist in preparing for a disaster.  We must become familiar with our workplace disaster plan.  What do I do in the event of a fire, tornado, active shooter, flood, etc.?  Pull out that binder and make yourself familiar with the procedures that should be followed.  Recognize the vulnerable populations within your facility and the special considerations that may need to take place for those patients.  Participation in mass causality drills that may take place in your community, workplace, or even statewide is an excellent way to practice the plan you have educated yourself on.  Testing these plans allow us to see how well our original plan works and identifies any changes that need to be made.  Finally, exercising allows for communication and community connections you will need when a real disaster occurs.  Below you will find some helpful sites to visit.

It is never fun to think about a disaster occurring in your workplace or community.  Regardless of this fact, we must prepare ourselves in the event tragedy does strike.  Educate, plan, and utilize your resources to keep yourself and your patients safe and to provide the best care you can for your patients in the event of a disaster.

Brittany is the Project Coordinator for HEROES, which offers Emergency Preparedness training and education for healthcare providers and students across the state of Nebraska, and beyond. HEROES is an interdisciplinary approach to biological, chemical, radiological and natural disaster emergencies. Spearheaded by the UNMC College of Nursing, they collaborate with the College of Medicine, College of Allied Health Professions and the Center for Preparedness Education.