Adding additional portable hand washing facilities suggested
A recent Government announcement stated that care home residents will be allowed 5 named visitors from Monday 17 May.
This follows a reduction in COVID-19 cases and the ongoing successful vaccine rollout with the Gov.UK website reporting that 95% of older care home residents have received their first jab.
As the benefits of this easing are enjoyed, it is possibly a time to look at what lessons can be learned from this period about how to increase the protection of residents, visitors and staff.
As part of the announcement on the Gov.UK site, Chair of the Social Care COVID-19 Taskforce, Sir David Pearson said:
“This is a significant step on the road to normality for so many.
“We are only able to increase visits in and out of care homes thanks to the hard work of social care staff maintaining good infection prevention and control, and the effect of the vaccines in driving down transmission.”
It is clear that the focus on infection control by the care homes has been an important factor and now looking ahead, with more visits, keeping this control will be vital to stop further infections from variants or from the usual challenges from influenza and norovirus.
No open house approach
The risks have been considered in an article on The Leader website, after an announcement that care homes in Denbighshire, Flintshire and Wrexham will not be returning to the pre-covid ‘open house’ approach after visiting restrictions were eased by the Welsh Government.
The article published a warning from Care Forum Wales chief executive Mary Wimbury who sounded a note of caution saying that all visits would still need to be risk assessed before they were allowed go ahead.
Following the NHS lead with additional handwash stations
To address this, it might be that care home can follow the path of some NHS hospitals by adding additional portable hand washing facilities in reception areas and common meeting or corridor areas.
Chris Whieldon, sales director of Teal Patents Ltd, discussed how the use of portable sinks has helped the NHS control infection outbreaks and support facilities maintenance.
“From the early days of the COVID-19 outbreak, effective hygienic hand washing has been at the core of infection control. We have supplied NHS hospitals throughout the UK as they have recognised that the tactical use of portable sinks is now becoming accepted as a simple, and easy to use solution, to ensure hand washing is carried out by staff and by visitors.”
Having portable sinks as part of the care package available in a care home environment offers reassurance to the residents, and to the family visitors, that managers are thinking ahead and able to satisfy the new higher standards required to pass risk assessments.
The units can provide back-up support for existing hand washing facilities, can be used in rest areas for residents, or in reception hallways for visitors and staff.
They are easy to use and as they can be placed at point of need are ideal for residents, who may have restricted mobility, allowing them to have access to warm water in their own rooms.