Norovirus: wash hands with soap and water in care home settings says HPSC

Norovirus wash hands with soap and water in care homes

Guidance highlights the ineffectiveness of alcohol gels

There has been an increase in the number of recent norovirus cases and outbreaks across Ireland, which mirrors the “larger picture internationally” with similar greater numbers being noted in the United States and UK, according to a recent new release from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC).

So-called “upsurges” occur every few years and tend to last for a period of between eight and twelve weeks, says the report. The levels now are said to be “considerably higher” than those recorded before the pandemic kicked in.

Residential care focus

Older people are at a considerably greater risk from the illness, which is why the article links to recent HSE-HPSC Guidance on residential care setting focussed norovirus management.

Interim Guidance Note on Managing Norovirus in Residential Care Settings (March 2023)  »

The Guidance recognises that extremely infectious norovirus (the so-called “winter vomiting bug”) is spread rapidly “anywhere people gather together”, with examples including residential care facilities, hostels, hotels and of course, hospitals. Person-to-person is described as the “main method” of the illness being passed on.

The Guidance warns that staff members and others who are either sick with, or recovering from, norovirus can also infect others.

Forget the gels – wash with soap and water

The Guidance regarding hand hygiene is very clear. Hand washing with soap and water, when carried out properly for an appropriate amount of time, is a very effective way of halting the spread of norovirus. However, it states…

“Remember: alcohol hand gels do not work against norovirus.”

Essential early steps when controlling an outbreak include, says the Guidance:-

“Frequent hand washing with warm water and soap for all staff and patients.”

Managing Norovirus in Residential Care Settings »

The Health Protection Surveillance Centre is Ireland’s specialist agency for the surveillance of communicable diseases.

A Teal CliniWash mobile handwash station for care homes
A Teal CliniWash mobile handwash station for care homes

Mobile hand washing units for care homes and home care »

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. 

Images (above) show Teal’s new CliniWash mobile handwash unit. Wheel it to anywhere it’s needed!

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.

How to choose the correct mobile sink »