The COVID-19 pandemic is wreaking havoc across all sectors that make up the UK economy but currently, at real crisis point are care homes. Whether within local authority control or privately run, care homes have become both a political, social and moral focus of the pandemic with Nicola Sturgeon saying this week that the spread of coronavirus in care homes is “heartbreaking” and “will haunt a lot of us for a long time”.
Cases of the virus have been reported in 60% of Scotland’s care homes, with a total of 5,635 residents affected and sadly 1,623 deaths (as of 17th May) where COVID-19 was a confirmed or suspected cause of death. Ministers have come under increased scrutiny over why hundreds of hospital patients were sent to homes without being tested. And at the centre of the crisis is real people; residents, their carers and their families.
There is, however, a simple three-point plan that during the first wave of infection has been proven across a group of 35 homes to optimise infection control and keep residents and staff better protected, reducing the potential for the tragedy that we have seen recently in care homes such as Home Farm Care Home on Skye doesn’t repeat itself nationwide ahead of a second wave.
- Using the right infection control product. It sounds simple enough, but it is astounding to know that many disinfectant products used in care homes need to sit in-situ or on a surface for up to 10 minutes to effectively kill bacteria or viruses. Hypochlorous acid however, that is skin-safe and kills an enormous 99.9999% of bacteria and viruses, works in seconds not minutes, ensuring that care homes and its people are protected at all times, from the minute it is applied. Not only that, it can be used on all surfaces and, as it is skin safe, can be used as a hand sanitiser without any of the negative side-effects related to alcohol-based products. Our Salvesan product provides complete infection control; one product that can kill bacteria and viruses throughout a care home, on any surface.
- A consistent and robust cleaning regime. Using the right product for the job is one thing, but having a consistent and thorough regime throughout a care home is vital. To control cross infection during a known outbreak a daily clean then disinfect regime should be implemented. This regime has been used in care homes across the UK with proven success when combined with our hypochlorous acid biocide Salvesan both during the current pandemic and in the past to control local outbreaks, for example Norovirus (winter vomiting).
- Traffic management. Ensuring that there is robust and rigorous control over the movement of people in and out of care homes is essential in the fight against care home infections and fatalities. Particularly as it has emerged in the study by Public Health England (PHE), that agency workers – often employed on zero-hours contracts – have unwittingly spread the infection in care homes as the pandemic has grown. Employing staff at a single location can significantly reduce infections when combined with points 1 and 2.
While the peak of fatalities appears to have passed, the crisis is far from over for the country’s 400,000 care home residents. The three-point system can help with the fight against cross-infection.