Aged care facilities provide a safe and comfortable space where patients can receive the care they need. However, in any care home there is the risk of illnesses and infections spreading.

While routinely following infection control procedures usually prevents outbreaks, there is always a slight risk of an infection outbreak. Elderly patients can be vulnerable to bugs, and with multiple patients sharing facilities, air and equipment, infections can spread quickly.

So how can you identify and reduce the risk of infection in your aged care organisation?

Assess New Patients Before Admitting Them

New patients bring the threat of infection to a facility if they have a contagious illness when admitted. If patients have an unidentified infection and unknowingly transmit the bug when interacting with other patients or staff members, this can cause an outbreak.

However, by assessing new patients before admitting them, any infections can be diagnosed, and the appropriate precautions can be taken to prevent contamination.

Even if patients show no signs or symptoms of infection, during the assessment staff can determine whether or not the patient may have come into contact with any illnesses or risks — for example, at a previous healthcare facility. This way, the risk is identified and can be effectively managed, reducing the chances of an outbreak.

Test Staff Members’ Infection Control Knowledge

Aged care facility staff are responsible for cleaning and disinfecting surfaces and equipment, taking care of patients and ensuring the environment is safe. If staff aren’t properly trained in infection control, this can increase the risk of bugs spreading.

Periodically assess staff members on their knowledge of how to stop bacteria and pathogenic organisms in their tracks. Your workforce should know how and when to properly wash their hands, when to clean surfaces and equipment, and how to handle contact with potentially infectious patients. It can be a good idea to have an infection prevention and control manual available for staff to read.

Evaluate Your Facility

Risk assessment is a huge part of infection control. Evaluating your facility with potential outbreaks in mind can shed light on weaknesses that could pose an infection threat.

You should consider whether you have the room and facilities to isolate infectious patients and effectively contain the infection to one area if need be. You should also examine the HVAC system to check it is safe and compliant with infection control standards. HEPA filters in the HVAC can extract infectious particles from the air, preventing them from circulating throughout the facility and causing infection to spread.

The equipment within your facility is also worth evaluating — do you have safe and effective disposal methods in place for getting rid of hazardous materials such as sharps or biohazardous waste?

Talk to an IPC Expert

These are just some of the ways you can identify risks of infection at your aged care organisation. If you want to ensure your facility is fully compliant with infection control procedures in aged care, it’s best to consult a professional IPC expert.

Infection prevention and control experts can offer thorough and personalised advice on how to reduce risks and comply with standards and regulations, such as the Aged Care Quality Standards.

Bug Control is the leading provider of infection control services in Australia. From audits, reports and action plans, to online educational resources, we offer the services you need to protect your staff and patients from infection. Book a free 20-minute consultation with one of our experts to receive personalised infection control advice.

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