Bed bugs are one of the most-feared pests to be found in care homes. This is because due to the nature of a care home, bed bugs can spread quickly causing an infestation that could have a significant negative impact.
What are bed bugs
Bed bugs are very small but not as most believe invisible to the naked eye, so you will be able to spot them. The most difficult part is that they like to hide away from light and are nocturnal so they can be difficult to find.
A typical bed bug is round, brown and 5-7mm in size. These are the adults, but you may also see lighter coloured and small individuals which are the growing stages.
Apart from seeing the bed bugs you may also see their faeces. This is usually brown to black and is small spots – it is most visible on lighter surfaces like mattresses and around wall sockets but can be present on the headboard of the bed or bedside furniture.
Bed bugs are good passengers as they will cling to clothing, suitcases, books and furniture as modes of transport. With staff and residents moving from room to room, the likelihood of bed bugs being transported is very high.
They can spread rapidly room to room via migration in search of a blood meal or spread inadvertently via a bed linen trolley which may be going from room to room.
Managing a bed bug infestation
The best course of action is always to seek a professional pest technician. They can quickly build in number and pest technicians will have access to tools and insecticides that will be able to eliminate them quicker.
However, there are a number of steps you can take which do not involve a professional pest technician.
Staff pest awareness training is vital. Ensuring your staff are aware of the signs of bed bugs and preventative measures to guard against them is key.
These preventative measures include vacuuming and washing clothing or bedding that has been brought in with new residents. Washing materials at 60OC will kill all life stages of insect. Areas often missed when vacuuming include the edges of carpets, under beds or heavy furniture and the seams of fabrics in armchairs, mattresses and fabric-style headboards, which are good hiding spots.
You can also use steam on the mattress or dry cleaning to get to thermally kill them.