The key to minimizing and controlling the spread of bacteria and infections in nursing homes starts with implementing effective hygienic practices. So, what are some examples of effective hygienic practices families should be seeing when visiting their loved ones who are living in a nursing home? According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the following are just a few ways nursing homes can prevent the spread of infections.
- Good Hand Hygiene
Good hand hygiene starts with staff members cleaning and sanitizing their hands frequently. To do this, they should:
- Wash hands frequently. Staff members should be washing their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds when they know they will be handling food, after using the restroom or after assisting a resident with using the restroom, when their hands have become soiled, and if their hands have come in contact with blood or bodily fluids. If a health care worker is wearing a ring, they should keep it on when washing hands as it can “trap germs and get caught on clothing and equipment.”
- Avoid touching sink handles with clean hands. Once a staff member has washed their hands, they should turn off the faucet using a paper towel to prevent them from getting their hands dirty.
- Wear gloves. Staff members should be wearing gloves when handling residents and should change them each time they assist someone else.
- Use hand sanitizer. Although hand washing is more effective, hand sanitizer can also be used in any situation other than those described in the first tip.
- Stock medication and treatment carts with alcohol-based hand rub or alcohol hand wipes.
If you noticed that one or more health care workers in your loved one’s nursing home are not practicing good hand hygiene, you should bring it toa staff member’s attention as this is one factor that largely contributes to the spread of bacteria, infections, and infectious diseases.
- Environmental Cleaning and Disinfection
In addition to nursing home staff members keeping their hands clean, staff members should also ensure the environment their residents are living in is clean and is being disinfected regularly. Some of the things the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality recommend facilities do to help prevent the spread of infections include:
- Clean with hospital-approved cleaners and disinfectants.
- Staff members should be properly trained on how to use cleaners and disinfects around nursing home residents.
- Clean and disinfect at the same time. Although are often interpreted to mean the same thing, cleaning refers to wiping away dirt and debris while disinfecting refers to removing and killing germs so they aren’t able to spread. It is important for nursing home staff members to clean and disinfect their facilities regularly.
- Wipe down surfaces and areas that are touched regularly such as:
- Medical carts
- Bed rails
- Call lights
- Personal care wipe packages
- Gloves should be worn when areas are being cleaned and disinfected and discarded immediately after.
- Gloves should also be changed when going in and out of rooms or when moving from a contaminated surface to a clean one.
Because bacteria and infections do spread easily in these facilities which are occupied by vulnerable individuals who more than likely have weakened immune systems, nursing homes should be taking all the precautionary measures they can to help reduce the spread of bacteria, infections, and infectious diseases.
What are some common types of infections and infectious diseases that can spread in nursing homes?
Some of the common types of infections and infectious diseases that can be spread in nursing homes include:
- Influenza (flu) virus
- COVID-19 virus
- Clostridium difficile colitis, better known as C. diff.
What if a facility’s lack of cleanliness or its failure to implement an infection control and prevention plan led to my loved one suffering?
If a nursing home has failed to implement the proper safety measures to help prevent the spread of an infectious disease or an infection and your loved one has suffered as a result, you may have a case against the facility. Nursing homes are required to meet certain state and federal standards and when those are violated and a resident suffers as a result, the home and even certain health care workers can be held liable for their negligence.
To learn more about holding a nursing home in Chicago liable for its negligence, contact the Chicago, IL nursing home neglect attorneys at Dinizulu Law Group, Ltd. Our attorneys can help you understand what your loved one’s legal rights are and how they can be properly exercised.
You can contact Dinizulu Law Group, Ltd. at:
221 North La Salle Drive, Suite 1100
Chicago, IL 60601