Are you ready to fight the flu?
Nobody likes to get sick, but the common flu can pose an increased risk to Senior Living communities. Our experts have put together this helpful refresher about proper cleaning techniques that your staff can use to stop the flu in its tracks.
The most important thing you can do is wash your hands early and often! A good strategy is to rub your hands together with soap for 15 to 20 seconds, rinse off the soap and then use a disposable towel to turn off the faucet. Do this not only to clean visibly dirty hands, but also before eating and after using the restroom.
If for some reason you can’t wash your hands, alcohol-based hand sanitizer is the best alternative – the CDC says it’s the most effective product for reducing germs.1 It should also be used before and after touching a resident or the resident’s immediate environment, after contact with blood, bodily fluids or contaminated surfaces, and immediately after glove removal.
However, alcohol-based hand sanitizer is ineffective against C. difficile spores, so it’s vitally important to wash your hands with soap and water after working with a person who has or is suspected of having C. diff. Additionally, alcohol-based hand sanitizer cannot be used in foodservice settings, so soap and water remains the best method in those areas.
Lastly, wear personal protective equipment (PPE) during direct patient interaction, especially isolation residents. Change PPE after every use.
Cleaning, Sanitizing & Disinfecting
Daily cleaning of all hard surfaces – including countertops, sinks, toilets and flooring – is essential for having a sparkling-clean community, but unfortunately it’s not enough for infection control. The next step is to sanitize and/or disinfect your surfaces.
Sanitizing is done in environments where food is prepared and eaten, like kitchens and dining rooms.
Disinfecting is performed across all other hard, non-porous surfaces. Use chemicals with EPA-registered claims to kill germs, and focus on all high-touch surfaces like light switches, bedrails, handrails, doorknobs, TV remotes, call buttons/cords, armrests and toilet flushers.
Remember, to properly disinfect and sanitize, you must allow all surfaces to remain wet for the manufacturer’s suggested times – also known as “dwell times.” Consider using products with shorter dwell times for outbreak control. It may be necessary to wipe down surfaces with a clean wet cloth after the dwell time has passed and the surface has dried. Bleach, for example, can be damaging to surfaces and harmful to skin and should be wiped off.
Encourage all staff and residents to get an annual flu shot.
Sick staff should stay home until free of symptoms.
If a caretaker is sick or refuses an annual flu shot, require them to wear a mask.
Communication is critical – everyone in a facility is responsible for following protocol to keep all people healthy.
Family and visitors should be made aware of any contact precautions and encouraged to follow protocol.
When possible, certain medical equipment like gait belts and slings should be dedicated to individual residents to minimize the possibility of cross contamination.
Disinfect all shared medical and therapy equipment in between each resident use.
Disinfect all serving carts after each trip to a nursing unit.
To clean floors and hard surfaces, use microfiber rather than cotton mops and cloths.
As we enter cold and flu season, now is a great time to begin thinking seriously about infection prevention in your community. Contact us for more information on finding the right solutions for your community.