Residents in aged care facilities are particularly prone to the spread of infection due to their close proximity to others. Infectious illnesses such as viruses can spread rapidly in these facilities because the facilities are shared by everyone.
There are certain measures that staff can take to reduce the spread of infection in these facilities.
1. Ensure High-Level Hygiene Procedures Are Followed
When a resident in an aged care facility becomes ill with an infectious disease, it’s important for staff to ramp up their hygiene procedures. This includes frequent handwashing using antibacterial soaps and alcohol-based sanitisers.
It’s also important to increase frequent cleaning and disinfection of all areas that are commonly used such as bathrooms, kitchens, communal lounges, and the entrance foyer. Special care should be taken to wipe down surfaces that are often touched such as door handles, chairs, and tables.
This cleaning should be done at least twice daily using an appropriate disinfectant that is approved by the departmental guidelines.
2. Isolate Residents Who Are Ill With An Infectious Disease
It’s important to isolate any residents who are showing symptoms of an infectious disease to reduce the risk of the disease spreading to other residents and staff.
Ideally, these residents should be allocated a single room away from others and they should be cared for by dedicated staff. While in isolation, it’s important that regular cleaning and disinfecting is carried out in the sick resident’s room at least twice daily.
It’s also important to issue sick residents with dedicated equipment that no one else can use such as their own dishes, cutlery, towels, and other necessary items. These items should be cleaned and disinfected separately from items that are used by other residents.
3. Staff Must Wear Protective Clothing
Staff who are looking after sick residents should ensure that they wear protective clothing such as disposable gloves and face masks to keep themselves safe from contracting the illness and, hence, spreading it throughout the facility.
Staff must also be conscious of regular hand washing and sanitising both before, during, and after they’ve spent time attending to the sick resident.
4. Restriction Of Movement Within The Facility
To avoid the spread of an infection, it’s important to restrict movement within the facility as much as possible. For example, staff who are looking after sick residents should avoid coming into contact with the other residents as much as possible.
It may also be necessary to restrict family members and others from visiting sick residents while they are in isolation. This will minimise the movement of the infection both within the facility and back out into the general community.
5. Make All Residents Aware Of Proper Hygiene Standards
Preventing the spread of an infection in an aged care facility is not only the responsibility of the staff. Residents too must be made aware of hygiene measures that they can take to keep themselves safe from contracting an infectious illness.
It’s important to remind residents that they should follow proper handwashing procedures. To make this easier, hand-washing soaps should be available in both communal and personal bathrooms. In addition, alcohol-based hand sanitisers should be available in residents’ rooms and communal areas and residents should be encouraged to use them frequently.
Reducing the spread of infection in aged care facilities is of primary importance as residents are constantly in close proximity to others which makes it easier for infection to spread. All residents and staff need to be made aware of proper hygiene procedures such as regular handwashing and sanitising.
Additionally, residents who are ill should be isolated as much as possible from other residents, and dedicated staff should be made available for these residents. These staff members should ensure that they wear protective clothing and that they carry out regular cleaning and sanitising of areas that sick residents come into contact with.
If all of these measures can be adhered to, then it gives the facility a greater chance of reducing the spread of any infection.