Many types of viral and bacterial infection are common in care homes and residential care settings.
3 Factors That Make Infections a Major Concern in Care Homes
- Infections can easily spread in any location where people share facilities.
- Elderly people and other care home residents are high-risk groups. If they catch an infection, they’re more likely to experience severe symptoms.
- An outbreak in a care home might lead to mass hospitalisation, which could place a further strain on an already overburdened health service.
In this post we’ll discuss some of the common infections in care homes. We’ll also explore some ways to improve infection prevention and control in care homes and other healthcare settings.
Most Common Infections in Care Homes
One study of infection outbreaks in care homes found that more than 50% of all infection agents came from just four organisms:
- The influenza virus
- Streptococcus Pyogenes
Furthermore, this study found that the respiratory tract was affected in 45% of outbreaks in care homes. Meanwhile, the gastrointestinal tracts was involved in 26% of outbreaks, the skin in 7% and the eyes in 2%.
Other common infections in care homes include Clostridium difficile and Bacillary Dysentery. These are each bacterial infections that can lead to vomiting, fever, and diarrhoea.
This study was conducted in 2012. Since then, of course, the world’s faced numerous outbreaks of Covid-19. Many of these outbreaks hit care homes particularly hard, particularly in the early days of the pandemic.
The latest Omicron variants may not be as deadly as the earlier variants, but they may still pose a risk to certain at-risk groups. Care home managers may have to account for the risks of further Omicron outbreaks for years to come.
How To Prevent and Control Common Infections in Care Homes
The key to infection prevention and control in care settings is to understand how these infections spread. Also, some care home residents may be unable to effectively communicate that they’re feeling bad. So learning the common symptoms of these infections is vital. The earlier you can spot the symptoms, the earlier you can act to protect both staff and patients from further infection.
Here are some general strategies care home managers can adopt to prevent and control infection:
- Staff Training – Make sure all members of staff understand the common infections they might have to deal with, including the symptoms and how they might spread.
- Policies and Procedures – You should have specific policies and procedures in place for managing infections, and all members of staff should be able to access these documents at all times.
- Zoning – If a member of staff catches an infection, they should not come to work. If a resident catches an infection, you should shield them from the rest of the residents for as long as they carry an infection risk. You should also have a policy for informing the resident’s friends and relatives should they catch an infection, as you may have to delay visits for a while.
- PPE & Hand Hygiene – Staff should wear appropriate personal protection equipment (PPE) when interacting with residents who may have infections. They should also practice good hand hygiene, thoroughly washing their hands both before and after interactions.
- Cough and Sneeze Etiquette – As many common care home infections are spread via coughs and sneezes, staff should encourage residents to cover their noses and mouths whenever they need to sneeze or cough. They could also provide ample tissues (and instruct residents to “catch it, bin it, kill it”), and adequate hand washing facilities.
- Cleaning Procedures – Bacteria and viruses can linger on surfaces for hours. It’s likely that most if not all care homes already have stringent cleaning procedures in place. But these procedures should also account for how viruses and bacteria can linger on soft furnishings, including carpets, curtains, and upholstery.
You can read official UK government guidance on infection prevention and control in care homes.
How Air Purification Can Form a Critical Part of Infection Prevention and Control in Care Homes
Though there are many ways for infections to spread in care homes, many of the viruses and bacteria that are responsible for these infections are airborne.
Good air filtration can therefore make a huge difference in preventing and controlling infection in care homes. For example, a recent University of Cambridge study found that an air filtration system in a Covid-19 ward successfully removed almost all traces of the airborne virus.
Our range of HealthProtect air purifiers are specifically designed for hospitals and other healthcare facilities – including care homes and other residential care settings.
The BlueAir HealthProtect 7740i Air Purifier can deliver complete filtration every 12.5 minutes in rooms as large as 62m². Its filters can trap up to 99.97% of particles down to 0.1 microns, and up to 99% of viruses and bacteria – including those responsible for all of the most common outbreaks in care homes.
Want to talk about how we can help prevent infections and improve the air quality in your care home? Get in touch to talk to one of our air purification experts today.