Nursing Home Infections
During this difficult time of COVID-19, nursing homes are under immense pressure to reduce the risk of infections and to protect patients. Elderly residents are particularly susceptible to many infections as a result of their weakened immune systems. Nursing homes in the US alone report more than 3 million infections per year . Many viruses and infections are transmitted through the hands, meaning nursing home facilities must implement appropriate hygiene practices. However, the UK Department of Health indicates that many care workers do not decontaminate their hands when required, nor use the correct technique.  They state that those involved in providing care, along with the residents, should be educated about:
- The correct technique and timing of hand hygiene
- When it is appropriate to use soap and water or hand rub
- The availability of hand hygiene facilities
I understand that not all nursing home/long term care facilities are the same, but the goal of delivering safe care for residents doesn’t change. At the core of best care is quality hand hygiene and it is imperative not only for the well-being of patients, but also staff and visitors.
Training New Staff
COVID-19 has resulted in an increase in new members of staff and during such a busy period, finding the time to deliver training can be difficult. Also, healthcare professionals have to complete a large number of handwashes/sanitations every day. There is no doubt that healthcare staff have a difficult and high-pressure task, but their commitment and dedication does not go unnoticed. Their work is essential for the care of residents and so is their hand hygiene practices. As a result, delivering quality training has never been so important.
SureWash is a hand hygiene training system that teaches workers how to clean their hands following the WHO technique. The training products deliver short, sharp burst of learning to build muscle memory. This ensures that the WHO technique becomes a habit, as it is easier to practice good hygiene when it is automatic. This training is also available for residents to learn the correct way to clean their hands in a fun and engaging manner.
Patient Hand Hygiene
Consequently, knowing how and when to clean your hands is not just important for healthcare workers. Healthcare settings should ensure all patients are aware of the importance of hand hygiene. However, a study by Burnett et al., (2008) examined hand washing opportunities for patients that needed assistance e.g. after using the toilet, before mealtimes, after vomiting etc. Findings identified that staff almost never offered support to residents and maintaining adequate hand hygiene was considerably low . As I previously stated, all nursing homes cannot be viewed in the same light. However, by enforcing culture and behaviour change in the nursing home setting, there can be drastic improvements in the well-being of residents.
Awareness Among Visitors
Visitors to nursing homes can be detrimental to the health of residents. Due to COVID-19, restrictions have been put in place to protect patients. Some key changes are that only essential visits are allowed and nursing homes should be contacted prior to visitation. However, appropriate measures should be taken to prevent the spread of infections throughout the year. Having an outbreak plan would be highly beneficial to care homes, detailing actions to be taken.
Visitors must be mindful that residents are more at risk of contracting infections. What a visitor might deem as a minor illness, can have a much greater impact on an elderly resident. Importantly, visitors must be aware of hand hygiene importance and know how to clean their hands correctly to minimise the spread of infections. By implementing a strategy that promotes hand hygiene awareness and delivers training, infection prevention and control can be improved.
Rapid Roll Out of Hand Hygiene Training
Researchers reviewed the impact of implementing a multi-component hand hygiene program, targeting care staff, residents, visitors and outside care providers. The intervention group that incorporated hand hygiene measures reported lower mortality and antibiotic prescription rates. According to APIC president Janet Haas, this conveys that a hand hygiene educational programme can improve practices and may reduce the risk of infection among nursing home patients.  The spread of germs in a nursing home can have a serious negative impact on the more vulnerable patients. Unfortunately, if nursing homes disregard the importance of hand hygiene, residents are likely to become very sick.
During COVID-19, healthcare settings need to implement an appropriate strategy that protects residents, patients and visitors. SureWash enables the rapid roll out of hand hygiene training through the SureWash Hand Hygiene App. This helps generate awareness about the importance of hand hygiene, with learning being available from a mobile device. Available on both the android and apple stores, it can be downloaded instantly.
The Reporting Suite on SureWash.Net gives a record of training and competence for infection control to track and assess user’s learning progress. Once a SureWash unit is on WIFI, all data is uploaded to the cloud. An in-depth analysis of training records is available, with the opportunity to automate and aggregate data across organisations. All elements of the SureWash system combine to deliver a complete solution to hand hygiene training for your organisations.
Find out more here: SureWash APP
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If your organisation would like further information and pricing for the App, please contact email@example.com and a member of our team will get back to you.
- Infection Control Today, (2018), ‘Hand Hygiene Can Lower Mortality, Antibiotic Prescription Rates in Nursing Homes’. Available at: https://www.infectioncontroltoday.com/hand-hygiene/hand-hygiene-can-lower-mortality-antibiotic-prescription-rates-nursing-homes
- Department of Health (2013), ‘Prevention and control of infection in care homes – an information resource’. Available at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/214929/Care-home-resource-18-February-2013.pdf
- Nursing Times, (2008), ‘Assessing hand hygiene in older people’s care settings’. Available at: https://www.nursingtimes.net/roles/older-people-nurses-roles/assessing-hand-hygiene-in-older-peoples-care-settings-08-08-2008/