Infection Control in Care Homes
Reducing the risk of infection within care homes has long been a key concern for all care home operators and given recent events, the focus on infection control in care homes has never been more important. With the CQC specifically looking at all areas of risk and prevention of infection, it’s key to make sure that all areas of the home are contributing to reducing this risk and ensure you’re aware of all the infection control properties and features of your interiors that can be taken advantage of. The government’s Infection Control Fund has provided operators with much needed support to allow them to assess all areas that could be a source of infection and take steps to mitigate any risk. As we look to the future there are some key infection control features to keep in mind when buying care home furniture and furnishings which will ensure that your care home is future-proofed to reduce any risks and provide a safe environment for both residents and staff. So, what should you be looking out for?
Care Home Infection Control Upholstery
Much attention has been paid to upholstered goods within care homes recently, in particular the debate over whether care homes must have faux leather on their chairs. Most upholstery manufacturers supply fabrics with additional anti-microbial properties, such as Panaz’s Shield Plus, therefore meaning that neither fabric nor faux leather upholstery is superior for infection control. Consider the following:
- Specifically look for upholstery ranges that have anti-microbial protection and are proven to be effective at preventing the growth of bacteria. All healthcare fabrics state whether they have this feature or not and your chosen chair manufacturer should be able to make recommendations on appropriate upholstery depending on your requirements.
- The drying time after cleaning is the only real difference between fabric and faux leather upholstery. If you find that you are cleaning chairs with residents almost immediately wanting to sit in them again, then faux leather will be more suitable as it will dry much quicker. However, if you have enough chairs that some can be left to dry and residents can use others in the meantime, then fabric will be fine.
- All healthcare upholstery will be FR, water and stain resistant. It is not advisable to utilise products that are not specifically for the healthcare sector as they will not have these features or the required anti-microbial properties.
- Consider a duo style upholstery of both faux leather and fabric to give your interiors a softer, less institutional feel. Use faux leather on high contact areas such as the arms and seat and fabric on the other areas.
- Choose fabrics that are as smooth as possible. Fabrics with a weave or texture will be harder to clean thoroughly.
- If you’re not sure whether fabric or faux leather is right for you, have a read of our blog here to help you decide.
Infection Control Furniture Features
There are certain features of care home furniture that will make them easier to clean, less likely to harbour dust and bacteria and in some cases also offer anti-microbial protection to hard surfaces. When purchasing care home furniture, the following are desirable when aiming to reduce the risk of infection and cross-contamination:
- Chairs with removable seat cushions. Lounge and bedroom chairs are a high contact, high use furniture item that require regular cleaning. By selecting chairs with a removable seat cushion you can make sure that all of the nooks and crannies that might harbour bacteria can be fully cleaned. Equally chairs with minimal visible seams are also preferable. For more information on how to effectively clean upholstered chairs, please click here.
- Wipe clean and easy clean surfaces. Look for surfaces that are wipe clean and are generally a flat surface to avoid any areas where dirt could build up or that are harder to clean regularly and quickly.
- Certain ranges of wooden furniture are available with Biomaster anti-microbial protective coating which lasts for the lifetime of the product. Selecting products with Biomaster would ensure that your wooden furniture is naturally anti-microbial and therefore providing added protection to your residents and staff in between cleans. For more information on Biomaster watch the following video or head to the Addmaster website:
Cleaning of soft furnishings and decorative items
It’s the ornaments and soft furnishings that are the things that make a house a home, yet they are also the things that are often harder to keep clean and are also more time consuming to clean. Smaller ornaments and soft furnishings are normally high contact areas; think of all the curtains you have in your home and the number of times per day these are drawn and closed – that’s a lot of contact from lots of different people! Thankfully there are ways that you can implement infection prevention control measures with these oft forgotten areas.
- When purchasing curtains and soft furnishings, look for printed options. For infection control these can be washed at 71⁰C for 10 – 15 minutes (please check with your specific supplier prior to washing or read our laundering guide here).
- Reduce clutter – the more items you have out on display the more likely these will be touched and therefore need to be cleaned.
- Wherever possible create safe visiting areas that are separate to the main home and can be easily sanitised between visitors. These areas need not be cold and unwelcoming; by following the above guidelines you can still have some beautifully upholstered chairs and soft furnishings to make the space comfortable and inviting.
We hope that this blog has given you some guidance on how your furniture and furnishings can help you with the topic of Infection Control in Care Homes. If you’d like any specific advice, please contact our team on 01603 664900 or firstname.lastname@example.org.