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White Paper

Outbreak Response in Aging Services: Cohort Unit Design

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During an outbreak, cohorting can be an effective approach to preventing and controlling the spread of infection. Although effective cohorting practices for a given infectious disease are generally consistent from one aging services organization to the next, the practical implementation can differ based the facility itself. Building design and layout can help to inhibit or promote incidents and adverse events; poor design of cohort units can deter efforts during an outbreak.

When design fails to work with the care and service environment, it can increase risks and hazards, and even leads to adverse events. In the case of an outbreak response, poor design can also negatively affect efforts like hand hygiene, identification of changes in condition, the proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE), pathogen testing strategies, and enhanced terminal and daily cleaning and disinfection, thus increasing the risk of infection transmission. These realities are evident during the COVID-19 pandemic, but are applicable to any outbreak.

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