Outside of frontline care, one of a care home’s most important responsibilities is infection control. Residents are at an increased risk of infection for many reasons, and it is crucial that care homes do all they can to manage and prevent infection spread. This blog will show the most common causes of outbreaks, and the best methods of infection control in care homes.
Poorly Managed Infections Can Lead to an Outbreak
Outbreaks can be relatively frequent in care homes, with influenza being the most common infection. They can happen for multiple reasons, but these are the most common:
- Infections continue to survive in or on people
- Vulnerable residents are often in contact with staff, visitors and other residents
- The immune systems of vulnerable residents can be overwhelmed
Infection prevention control can be very difficult for care home staff. Knowing the ways infections spread is crucial – these are the main avenues:
- Physical contact (touching)
- Ingestion (eating contaminated food or drinking contaminated water)
- Droplets (from a cough or sneeze)
- Airborne (directly inhaling the exhaled breath of an infected person)
- Airborne dissemination (spreads through the air and lands on a person)
The best courses of action if an outbreak occurs are to suspend visits, allocate specific staff to specific patients, reduce socialising in the care home, increase use of protective equipment. On top of this, ensure that residents are still well cared for.
Washing your hands in the correct manner is necessary to prevent a rapid spread of infection in a care home. The World Heath Organisation (WHO) have specific guidelines for how to wash your hands properly when dealing with people at risk from infection, entitled Hand Hygiene.
WHO’s Hand Hygiene brochure gives very detailed instructions, down to the exact motions to clean hands effectively. Alongside this, there is a list of the times where washing hands are essential for carers. They are:
- Before touching a patient
- Before a cleaning or aseptic procedure
- After body fluid exposure risk
- After touching a patient
- After touching patient surroundings
Ensuring that your hands are clean means that the primary method of spreading infections – through physical contact – is blocked to a significant degree.
Infection Control through Effective Cleaning
It’s not just hands that need to be kept clean. Ensuring that every part of your care home is properly cleaned will help to keep infection spread under control.
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) are the independent regulators of care homes in England and assess care homes to select criteria, one of which is hygiene. The CQC rate homes as Outstanding, Good, Adequate and Requires Improvement. We’ve written before on how to achieve a CQC Outstanding rating, so be sure to have a look at that for important further information.
To ensure that you can maintain high standards of cleanliness, and ensure that the risk of infection in your care home is minimal, there are ways of making your cleaning as easy as possible. An NHS-approved care home cleaning kit is a great way of making your cleaning products go further, as a kit like this can fulfil up to 90% of a care home’s cleaning needs.
For cleaning carpets and curtains, as well as toilets and urinals, something like the Zybax Professional Starter Kit would help control infections. Zybax Fresh is a low-foam solution that can be used with carpet-shampooing equipment, as well as with trigger sprays and mops.
These are among the best practices for care home infection control. Have a look at our range of hygiene products for other useful products for helping prevent infection outbreaks.