Hand Washing - Infection ControlPneumonia is an infectious disease that causes an inflammation of one or both lungs. It's a very common illness in the UK, affecting around 1 in 100 people every year. 

When your lungs are healthy, they filter the air we breathe, making sure that bacteria, fungi and other harmful substances don't contaminate our breathing systems. It is these substances evading the body's natural defence that can cause infection and inflammation - Pneumonia. It can also be triggered by inhaling dangerous chemicals, smoke or vomit. 

For an elderly person or someone who is chronically or terminally ill, Pneumonia can prove fatal. In fact, it is currently the leading cause of death in those aged over 70, with a recent report showing that the increase in infectious diseases like this have outpaced the increase in the elderly population itself. So what can you, as a care worker, do to prevent a service user catching Pneumonia?

Taking great care when it comes to Hand Hygiene and Infection Prevention and Control methods are paramount. You should ensure that you wash your hands before and after helping a service user with a personal care task, preparing food and cleaning living surfaces and areas. 

The flu jab is available free of charge to anyone over the age of 65 or living in a full time residential care home. It is best to encourage any service user that meets these conditions to benefit from the jab to hugely decrease their chances of falling ill with Pneumonia. For more information, please see the NHS website

You are also eligible for the flu jab as a front line health and social worker, and your immunity to infections and disease will greatly reduce the chances of your spreading it amongst the people you provide care for. However, sometimes these precautions are not enough and Pneumonia infects the individual. 

It's important to be able to quickly spot the symptoms of the condition, including nausea, chest pains, coughing, aches and pains, breathing difficulties and fever. 

If the service users you care for appears to have Pneumonia, don't delay. Call their doctor immediately for advice - it could save their life. 

No matter what environment you provide care in, we can provide specialist training for you. Take a look at our Infection Prevention and Control titles for Care Home and Home Care settings now.