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Care homes form vital front line against Norovirus

September 13, 2017

England’s care homes will act as a vital front line in the fight to stop Norovirus affecting the elderly this winter, as the NHS in England warns that it will struggle to manage patient demand.

According to an article on the BBC News website, the group NHS Providers, which represents NHS chief executives, is calling for an emergency bailout of up to £350m to ensure hospitals have the additional beds and staff that they urgently need.

Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, said that the NHS budget had increased by only 1.3% this year compared to a 5% rise in demand.

In addition, although NHS bosses made significant efficiency savings of £20bn in the last Parliament, Chris Hopson said that the Office of Budget Responsibility had estimated that the NHS would still have a £15bn funding shortfall by 2020.

Why this is an issue for care homes

Obviously, any instances of Norovirus in a care home should be contained within that care home, wherever possible. However, where elderly residents become extremely ill because of the Norovirus they may well need moving to hospital for medical care.

The problem is that with bed and staff shortages predicted in some hospitals, there could be delays in the treatment of these vulnerable residents, meaning it is even more vital for care homes to try to minimise the risk of Norovirus taking hold in their care homes in the first place.

What’s more, wherever possible, hospitals will want to limit the number of patients coming into wards with Norovirus, as this can itself lead to bed and ward closures.

For example, according to an article in The Independent, in the first two weeks of December last year, hospitals reported 20 outbreaks of Norovirus, 17 of which led to bay or ward closures.

As such, care homes are in an important position, not only to control the spread of Norovirus within their own premises, but also to hospitals in their area.

This is becoming even more essential, as incidents of Norovirus could well be on the rise. According to data from Public Health England, reports of the illness reached 2,435 last Winter, which was 12% higher than the average for the same period over the previous five years.

Tackling Norovirus in your care home

If you are concerned about the best way to prevent Norovirus taking hold in your care home or how to control an outbreak if one does happen, just email us at info@cairncare.co.uk or call us on 0845 226 0185 for a free copy of our factsheet: “Tackling Norovirus in Your Care Home”.

Including an Outbreak Action Plan and visual handwashing guide, our factsheet will arm you with all the information you need to help keep Norovirus at bay this winter.

In addition, you can click here to view our range of Virusolve+ antimicrobial cleaning products, which can kill Norovirus and many other superbugs like MRSA, C-diff and HCV in only five minutes.