Preventing the Spread of Infection in Care Facilities

Infections can spread in any environment, however residents and clients in care facilities are more vulnerable to infections, due to a number of reasons including their age, current medications, weakened immune systems and chronic medical conditions. Clients in care centres share air, space, food and equipment, and as such, they also share organisms that can easily cause infections such as viruses and bacteria. At Cleaning Edge Solutions, we are experts in aged care, childcare and medical centre cleaning, so we understand that germs can spread quickly and have a severe impact on clients. Let’s take a look at infection outbreaks and how to prevent them through proper hygienic cleaning practices.

What is an infection outbreak?

An infection outbreak can be defined as:

  • Two or more people with the same infection caused by the same organism who probably acquired the organism in the same place
  • More people than you would expect with the same infection

Types of infection outbreaks in care homes

The most common types of disease outbreaks in care homes are respiratory infections (often caused by influenza viruses), and gastrointestinal infections. Skin, urinary tract, and bloodstream infections are also common. Infection outbreaks can occur in care homes because:

  • Vulnerable residents have frequent contact with staff, other residents, visitors and the environment.
  • The immune system of vulnerable residents can be easily overwhelmed.

How do infections spread?

There are many ways infections can spread, some of the most common include:

Through physical contact – when a person touches, or is touched by, someone or something that is contaminated with an infectious agent.

Through droplets – when the infectious agent is spread by droplets caused by coughing or sneezing.

By airborne infection – when a person directly inhales the exhaled breath of an infected person.

By airborne dissemination – when the infectious agent is disseminated in the air – for example, during bed-making or dressing changes.

Through ingestion – when a person eats contaminated food or water.

Infection prevention and control

Infections can spread rapidly within environments where many people are living and eating in close quarters. Due to the vulnerability of the people in care facilities, the spread of infection within care homes is particularly dangerous. Care homes must maintain rigorous standards of infection prevention and control to provide residents with a clean and safe environment.

Common Precautionary Measures Include:

  • Reinforcing hygiene and cleaning measures, including regular deep cleaning for all common touch points
  • Isolation of residents with infection
  • Heightened observation of residents to identify new cases of infection
  • Postponing of visitors, outside trips or new admissions
  • Proper documentation and communication
  • Recording of all information on the outbreak including resident details, onset date, symptoms and action taken
  • Ongoing staff training and professional development on the latest best practice infection prevention and control

The importance of proper cleaning in reducing the spread of infection

Adherence to good practice in relation to cleaning and hygiene has been shown to reduce the risk of infection to clients, residents and staff in care home facilities. In these facilities, all common touch objects and surfaces such as doorknobs, taps, remote controls and light switches, must be cleaned, sanitized and disinfected frequently. Deep cleaning involves the removal of dirt and soil, while sanitizing reduces germs, and disinfection involves removing as many germs as possible. The use of cleaning agents such as bleach, ammonia, and hydrogen peroxide are used to disinfect a wide range of surfaces and objects in hospitals and care homes.

Care facilities have a higher risk of infection outbreak and spread than almost anywhere else. This means that commercial cleaning companies must be aware of the cleaning, health and safety standards set by the federal and state governments and other governing authorities. If you are looking for a professional, experienced and complaint company to clean a care home facility, contact the team at Cleaning Edge Solutions today.

The Importance of Proper Cleaning in Aged-Care Facilities

Aged care facilities have a duty of care to ensure that the cleanliness and sanitation within their facility is maintained to the very highest of standards. Not only do proper cleaning practices and procedures reduce the risk of spreading infections and illness to the vulnerable elderly residents, it also helps to keep the staff who work in these places healthy so they can continue to provide their services. At Cleaning Edge Solutions, we are highly experienced and certified to clean in an aged care environment. Read on for our guide to the importance of keeping these facilities clean and the cleaning challenges that may be faced on a daily basis.

Aged Care Facilities Must Adhere to Strict Industry-Specific Regulations

Aged care facilities are bound by their own cleaning standards, and for good reason. A delicate environment where, if standards aren’t strictly adhered to, consequences can be detrimental. Few other industries are subject to both audits and unannounced visits to inspect their compliance to defined standards, and the facility’s accreditation and ability to continue accepting new residents may be impacted if they are found to be in breach.

Proper Cleaning Reduces the Risk of Illness and Infection

Elderly adults are more susceptible to sickness and infections, and even minor ailments can be fatal to their weakened and vulnerable immune systems. Common bacteria that can be found in aged care environments include VRE, MRSA, C.difficile and gastro, and when an outbreak of these types of infections occurs, there are significant costs involved including extra resources, closure of facility areas, extra staff and reputational damage. Regular cleaning and sanitizing of high-touch surfaces and work spaces is one of the most important ways of reducing the risk of illness and infection. Areas such as kitchen benches, bathroom sinks, toilets and doorhandles all need to be cleaned regularly and thoroughly using the proper cleansers and sanitisers to remove harmful bacteria.

The main touch-points that must be cleaned and sanitised in a resident’s room include:

  • Doorknobs
  • Light switches
  • Basin and taps
  • Chairs
  • Bedside tables
  • Bed and bed railings
  • Transport trolleys
  • Wardrobes
  • Windows and drapes
  • Objects such as medicine cups, remote controls, phones, walking frames

What Are the Challenges of Cleaning in Aged Care Facilities?

Working around people – cleaners become part of the facility’s everyday world, so much so that residents may see a cleaner as often as nurses or other staff. This means that aged care cleaners must be able to interact with the residents and their visitors appropriately, they must also show tact and discretion in regards to the privacy of residents, understand the importance of cleaning up spills and other hazards in a timely manner and know when to call for medical assistance.

Daytime cleaning – aged care is one of the few industries which requires most cleaning work to happen during the day, as opposed to many industries where cleaning is preferred after hours. This creates a few challenges, such as the continual flow of people in and around the area being cleaned increasing the risk of cross-contamination, slips, trips and falls. Unlike cleaners in other industries, cleaning staff in aged care homes are unable to rush through their tasks while no one is around, instead they must navigate far more variable elements including residents, staff, visitors, objects and equipment. As such cleaners must have a high awareness of their personal movement as well as the positioning of cleaning equipment like vacuums, brooms, buckets, power cords and other cleaning tools.

Ensuring that every surface and work area has been cleaned and sanitised is of utmost importance to the health and wellbeing of those who live, visit and work in aged-care facilities. At Cleaning Edge Solutions, we are highly experienced in cleaning aged-care facilities, we work to the highest standards, and have the quality assurance certification, ISO9001. Our cleaning staff are trained in cleaning standards designed to mitigate and manage the risk of the spread of disease or infections. Contact us today for more information or for a free quotation.