By Josie Winter- Clinical Director, Advanced Clinical Solutions.
Infections in care homes pose a potential threat to residents, as it is a shared living environment residents will inevitably share micro-organisms. Residents can often be more susceptible to opportunistic infections, due to health conditions and older age. Both healthcare staff and capable residents can play a crucial role in preventing the spread of infection.
Some of the most common infections seen in care home are listed below: -
Most respiratory illnesses are spread by droplet or contact transmission, one of the most common respiratory infections within care homes is Influenza.
Urinary tract infections
UTI’s can occur when bacteria enter the urinary tract, leading to growth in the bladder. Catheter-associated UTI is also a common occurrence in the care home setting made more difficult with challenges in hydrating some residents.
Skin infections can be caused by a variety of micro-organisms. One common example in the care home setting is cellulitis.
Gastrointestinal infections are defined as an inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. Symptoms range from diarrhoea and vomiting to abdominal pain. Common GI infections in care home residents are Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) and Norovirus.Both can be highlycommunicable and pose more risk in closed environments such as care homes.
Taking a multi-faceted approach to infection prevention & control in the care home is key to meeting statutory and regulatory requirements in Infection prevention and control.
Environmental Cleaning & Management
Care homes can pose distinctive infection prevention challenges, as the environment is designed to be more like ‘home’. Carpets and soft furnishings can cause challenges with effective cleaning and decontamination. Multi use items, such as commodes, should be cleaned, labelled and stored correctly before use with the next resident. Cleaning schedules and records can help to ensure this is happening with each use.
Transmission of micro-organisms via hands is a major contributing factor in the spread of infection. It is well documented that effective hand hygiene in care homes can reduce outbreaks. Both staff and residents can participate in training sessions on the importance of hand hygiene, including teaching the correct hand hygiene technique (Ayliffe) and adoption of the ‘WHO’ 5 moments of hand hygiene.
Continuous Quality Improvement & Clinical Governance
Regular audits of infection prevention measures, such as cleaning, environmental management, invasive devices, hand hygiene and aseptic technique can provide useful insight into potential improvement measures needed. In addition to mandatory training, additional skills in root cause analysis, horizon scanning of new clinical evidence and clinical audit, can deliver a broad skillset to deal with IPC on a day to day basis. Having a lead to provide oversight of all IPC programmes within the care home can be beneficial to offer support and advice to both staff and residents.
Help & Support
Educating everyone from managers to residents about the importance of IPC allows for improved knowledge in factors such as respiratory precautions, adequate hydration, the importance of skin care and hand hygiene. Advanced Clinical Solutions offer a specialised package of services for Infection Prevention and Control which include Clinical Audit, Training for staff and residents, outbreak advice line, root cause analysis and post outbreak decontamination (in association with Q-Shield) for more information call 01633 415 427 or visit www.advancedclinicalsolution.co.uk