Living in a shared space like a care home, residents will share:

  • Food
  • Space
  • Air
  • Carers
  • Furniture
  • Equipment

As you can imagine this can lead any viruses or harmful bacteria present to spread throughout the population quicker than in most other living environments.

This coupled with the vulnerable residents that reside within care homes has the potential to cause huge harm, both towards the health of the residents and the logistics of running a care home.

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To mitigate this as a possibility care homes must provide adequate training towards preventing and managing an outbreak, but also have the processes in place to detect and minimise the number of residents a potential outbreak could harm.

The effects of a viral outbreak on your care home

1. Closed to new admissions

The costliest and most disruptive outbreaks that occur in care homes are those that have symptoms of diarrhoea and vomiting (D&V). This is because homes often have to lockdown and are unable to take any new patients.

Impact on your residents

  • Your home will not only be closed to new admissions but often to visitors as well. This can negatively impact your resident’s quality of life.
  • Residents may need to be isolated and receive less face to face care. This isolation will continue until they have shown no symptoms for 48 hours.
  • Non-urgent medical issues may not be resolved during this time when leaving and entering the home is restricted, so your residents may have to live in discomfort.

Impact on business

  • You cannot accept new residents for the duration of a D&V outbreak, so cannot generate new revenue.
  • Furthermore, no prospective residents can visit meaning your new admissions could be affected down the line as well.

2. PPE and Cleaning

If an outbreak was to occur you need to put in place the adequate equipment and PPE to mitigate its effects.

As outlined in the PHE Standard Publication, infection control actions include staff wearing a clean set of uniform daily, ensuring suitable PPE is available and guaranteeing all sinks are accessible and well stocked with liquid soap and paper towels for staff and visitors.

Impact on your residents

  • Although the extra cleaning will help resolve the health issue, your staff’s time will undoubtedly be more skewed to cleaning and less on spending time with residents.
  • Additionally, the use of PPE can create a very impersonalised care experience. This can be mitigated in some circumstances with face shields to help residents feel the human connection by seeing their carer’s faces.

Impact on business

  • Additional cleaning and PPE costs and the potential need for more staffing to control the outbreak.
  • Risk of developing a reputation as unsafe if the outbreak is not quickly controlled through an appropriate cleaning and PPE response.
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3. Staff sickness

The day-to-day operations of your care home relies solely on having the adequate number of staff to help run and care for your residents. A mismanaged outbreak can potentially spread across to your staff leaving your care home grossly understaffed and overworked.

Impact on your residents

  • Symptom showing residents must be isolated in their rooms until they have shown no symptoms for 48 hours. If this spreads to your staff then the quality of the individual monitorisation of your residents will take a hit.
  • If your staff are sick, you may need to bring on agency staff who don’t know your residents. Without vetting agency staff you can’t be as confident in their work as your permanent staff to deliver a great quality of care to residents.
  • Not being able to see other residents or visitors can have a devastating effect on a resident’s willingness to get better. So, the less staff are available to your residents, the less time they can spend with others to cope with the isolation.
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Impact on your business

  • To keep care levels high whilst staff are sick you may need to bring in agency staff at an elevated cost.
  • Care homes operate on reputation which can get sullied by regular outbreaks and staff shortages. Which can in turn create a higher rate of mental unwellness causing people to admit their loved ones elsewhere.

How to define and detect a potential outbreak

An infection outbreak can be simply defined asTwo or more people with the same infection caused by the same organism who probably acquired the organism in the same place.” (Wales, NHS UK)

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With this knowledge detecting an outbreak can be relatively simple if you have the right tools in place. An early warning system can help care homes easily identify when an outbreak is likely to occur, giving you more time to be proactive in your response.

Gather Care is an easy to use app which can validate suspected outbreaks, verifies that data within the care home and enables swift action. Gather Care is infection control support tool in the carers hand.
Anita Rose, Director of Clinical Development

To capture all the data you need takes just 30 seconds out of the day of a care home professional. Which gives you the ability to quickly visualise and detect any potential viral outbreaks in your care homes.

Developed with industry-leading care professionals and clinicians to monitor early warning signs, taking data on:

  • Symptom Counts
  • Pyrexia
  • Diarrhoea
  • Vomiting
  • Chest infections
  • Flu and/or Cold
  • Persistent Cough
  • Urinary Tract Infection

You can get in touch with us about receiving a one-month free trial or read up on the why a month’s worth of data is so beneficial to care homes.

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With our Data Capture app and Data services team on offer we provide all the tools necessary to unlock the value in your customer data

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