The UK’s care sector has been one of those most affected by COVID-19, causing care workers and residents are living in an unparalleled time right time now. The industry prides itself on delivering high-quality care, and so needs to ensure stringent infection control steps are carried out to protect both residents and carers alike.
The transmission of COVID-19, along with many other viruses, is thought to occur mainly through respiratory droplets generated by coughing and sneezing as well as through contact with contaminated surfaces. And it’s not just hands that need to be washed regularly – research shows that when left unattended, COVID-19 can survive and live on some surfaces for up to five days at temperatures of 22 and 25°C and relative humidity of 40 and 50% (the standard for typical air-conditioned indoor environments, like care homes).
In care homes, where vulnerable residents often have close contact with visitors, residents, and staff, alongside weakened immune systems, it can be easier than normal for an infection outbreak to happen.
Rigorous precautions are key in preventing and controlling outbreaks. As such, it has never been more important to have a programme of regular and effective cleaning. Should an area in your care home become infected, what chemicals do you need to make sure your cleaning supplies include to deal with it immediately and effectively?
According to Government guidelines, decontamination of equipment and the care environment must be performed using either:
- A combined detergent/disinfectant solution at a dilution of 1,000 parts per million (ppm) available chlorine (av.cl.); or
- a general-purpose neutral detergent in a solution of warm water followed by a disinfectant solution of 1,000ppm av.cl
- a combined detergent/disinfectant solution at a dilution of 1,000 parts per million (ppm) available chlorine only cleaning (detergent) and disinfectant products supplied by your company should be used and all products must be prepared and used according to the manufacturers’ instructions. If any alternative cleaning agents/disinfectants are to be used, they should only be on the advice of the IPCT and conform to EN standard 14476 for virucidal activity.
This information is consistent with a recent review of modes of transmission of COVID-19 by the World Health Organization (WHO).
It’s a complete myth that chemicals work better in greater quantities.
All products differ, and you need to ensure your team follows directions specific to the product they’re using.
For example, the Excedo Super Dose range is concentrated, and only requires a small amount of chemical to achieve the desired result.
Keeping surfaces disinfected can prevent the spread of all viruses, including COVID-19. Diluted bleach and cleaners with at least 70% alcohol have been recommended.
Along with surfaces, hand hygiene is also perhaps the most important practice to minimise the transmission of infectious agents, proven to combat the novel coronavirus.
It is crucial that all care home residents and workers are regularly sanitizing their hands. Recently, research undertaken by scientists in Germany and Switzerland found that alcohol-based sanitizers inactivated the virus. Guidelines from the WHO strictly say that hand sanitizer should be alcohol-based to prevent the pathogens from spreading.
Guidelines from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence for when to decontaminate your hands in the care industry include:
- Immediately prior to providing care to a resident
- Straight after providing care to a resident
- Whenever you’re exposed to any bodily fluids
- Straight after touching the surroundings of the resident, including chairs and doors
- As soon as you remove any gloves.
Disposal of chemical waste
Care homes need to have a written policy on any waste disposal, including colour coding of bags which are used for waste. It’s important to handle materials as little as possible if they have had exposure to the virus, in order to minimise any exposure to others. Identify the bags with a colour or mark which shows that they have infectious waste.
Your trusted care home partner
All care home staff and owners have an important role in prevention and control of infection. By taking smart steps and using the right chemicals, you can substantially reduce the chances of an infection spreading throughout the residential area, protecting the safety of residents and employees.
Blueleaf Care provides care homes with supplies and services that allow your care home to stay safe. Contact us today to speak to one of our skilled professionals about how we can help your care home.
Read more from our Infection Control series
Part 2: Understanding the national colour-code system
Part 3: How to implement isolation measures and protect residents against loneliness
Part 4: The complete guide to Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Part 5: How to handle waste management and laundry segregation
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