One of the most crucial duties of care managers is protecting care residents from infections and reducing the risk of existing infections spreading through the care home. Within the UK influenza is classed as our most common infection and it peaks over the colder winter months. If these types of infections are not managed in the correct way & if care homes do not operate well-structured infection control policies, then many undesirable consequences can plague the daily routines of those in care & staff:

-  If an infection outbreak has occurred, there are often a lot more demands being placed on the entirety of the care workforce. A considerable amount of extra time and care needs to be dedicated to cleaning, monitoring & consultative duties.

-  Occasionally, visiting hours may need to be reduced or paused whilst there is a high risk of contagion within the premises. At the very least, family members may need to be informed of associated risks prior to visiting the care home.

-  Care receivers who are currently suffering from infections will need extra support but also endanger residents who are currently not infected. Staff may need to strategically ensure resident contact with infected individuals is brought down to a minimum.

All of these points can cause havoc with the daily operations of care homes and there is potential that infection unrest could last weeks rather than days. Maintaining high infection control standards in the care home is a critical responsibility and strong infection prevention is always going to be the best overall solution to reducing the risk infections can pose. Below we have detailed some of the best tips & processes which can be used to help stop infections spreading in the care home.

Washing Hands & Personal Hygiene

The importance of hygiene in care homes is well documented and its no surprise that it’s one of the primary methods of infection prevention. Carers should always look to wash their hands before & after giving care and gloves should be warn when exposed to body fluids or providing personal care. Bacteria can lay dormant on surfaces for up to 24 hours, so it’s equally important that waste materials used when providing care are also correctly disposed of. These practices shouldn’t just stop with care staff, by educating visitors and family members extra care is often given which may just add an extra piece of support when stopping infections spreading through the care home.

Stop Infections Spreading In The Care Home

Maintaining Strong Cleaning Practices

During an outbreak, routine cleaning may need to become more robust and more regular. Everything from curtains through to urinals, carpets & furniture needs to be effectively cleaned and when surfaces are noticeably dirty they need to be cleaned almost instantaneously. It is also recommended to use disinfectant on surfaces which come into regular contact with care receivers, rather than using cleaning products which don’t effectively kill dormant bacteria. Cleaning rotas & records also need to be accurately maintained which is the responsibility of the whole team – if a member of staff notices parts of the home isn’t cleaned to schedule, then this needs to be urgently actioned in order to protect care residents from infections.

Keeping Up Communication

Maintaining effective communication is of supreme importance when care homes are inflicted by infections. It’s necessary to carefully explain the situation to all care receivers, letting them know that they can also personally reduce their risk of catching a virus by following some basic housekeeping rules. Similarly, if individuals are suffering an infection it’s also important to keep a regular dialogue with them and let them know that certain processes may have to be put in place to protect care residents from infection. There may be periods when keeping infected individuals together and reducing socialising may help stop the spread of the infection throughout the home. Staff also need to be regularly conversing, especially when moving between shift patterns. It’s vital that staff know the status of different care receivers and can keep each other updated with what has happened throughout the course of the day.

Having robust infection control policies in place is the first step for care homes but the dedication & tenacity of staff is also vitally important. Keeping infection outbreaks under control is a team effort and requires constant awareness across the entire premises. If staff dedicate time to getting the above three areas right, then they will go a long way to protecting care residents from infections during the upcoming months. For more detailed advice on infection control, take a look at our training courses covering all the best practice recommendations & guidelines.