Throughout June and July, many lockdown measures in the UK were lifted. But the threat of Coronavirus has not disappeared, as we approach October new cases are rising again. It’s important that everyone continues to take precautions to stay safe and prevent the spread of infections. This is especially true for care homes. Sadly, some residential care facilities saw high numbers of cases and deaths during the peak.
But how should care homes be improving their infection control policies? What guidelines and procedures need to be put in place?
After years of designing equipment to comply with strict infection control requirements, our specialists have pulled together their top recommendation and tips:
What are the current infection control guidelines for care homes?
As with many things right now, care home guidelines are still changing regularly.
To ensure you always have the latest information on COVID-19, check the following websites:
- CDC – Guidance for all areas of adult social care.
- Skills for Care – Guidance on essential staff training.
- GOV.UK – Guidance for admissions, resident care, and staff safety.
If anything changes, these are official bodies you can rely on for updates!
Which leads us onto our first infection control tip…
1) Make someone responsible for keeping up with any guideline changes
Assigning responsibilities can help keep everything under control. It might be that the care home manager is responsible for checking all updates. Or you might ask team leaders to monitor guidelines for one area e.g. training.
Go for whichever method will best help you to balance staying informed with running the home and caring for residents.
Following the official guidelines ensures you’re meeting your legal requirements to prevent infection.
Another benefit is it can help take the pressure off staff. When things keep changing, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and worry about missing something. But once everyone knows who is responsible for what, everything feels much clearer!
2) Protect your front door
Most feedback we’ve had from care homes that haven’t had any COVID-19 cases revolves around the front door. Once the virus gets into a care home, it’s much harder to control and avoid further infections.
- If you have staff who rely on public transport, rent your own vehicle.
Face coverings are currently mandatory on public transport. But you’re still exposed to more risk factors than in a private vehicle. Keeping your staff healthy means they don’t risk bringing Coronavirus into the home and infecting vulnerable residents.
- Install a sink by the front door.
That way, you can ensure anyone entering the home has thoroughly cleaned their hands before touching anything.
- Arrange a separate space for visits
Residents and their families deserve to be able to see each other again. In July, Health and Social Care Secretary, Matt Hancock, announced that “covid-secure” visits can resume. But having more visitors enter the home will increase the risk of infection. As of September, many care homes have sadly had to restrict visits further.If you are still accepting visitors, ideally, you should set up some outdoor pods/cabins and use screens. This will allow residents and relatives to meet safely without coming into direct contact.
Protecting your front door is the best way to protect your residents, staff, and any visitors!
3) Include your furniture in infection control audits
Many care homes we’ve spoken to are already updating their infection control policies.
Part of this update should include auditing furniture and equipment for infection risks. Here are some things to look out for:
- Are there any rips or tears in upholstery?
- Is there any Velcro that could come into direct contact with the skin?
- Is furniture easy to wipe down and clean regularly?
- Are you using infection-control friendly materials?
There’s a lot of focus on setting up one-way systems and adding hygiene stations.
Of course, these things are important. But care equipment and furniture come into direct contact with residents and staff!
Studies have shown Coronavirus can last on surfaces for at least 24 hours – and further research is ongoing in this area.
Anything you can do to reduce the risk of your chairs, beds, and other furniture harbouring infection will be a huge advantage.
Start the 3-Step Roadmap to Success
We hope this simple guide gives you some starting points for improving your infection control policies. We’ve also written a free 60-page eBook for care home operators.
As well as more tips for infection control, it’s full of practical advice for the months and years to come.
Get your roadmap to surviving the initial changes, operating sustainably, then strengthening and growing again.