Flu in nursing homes: protecting care staff and residents

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[cs_content][cs_section parallax=”false” separator_top_type=”none” separator_top_height=”50px” separator_top_angle_point=”50″ separator_bottom_type=”none” separator_bottom_height=”50px” separator_bottom_angle_point=”50″ style=”margin: 0px;padding: 45px 0px;”][cs_row inner_container=”true” marginless_columns=”false” style=”margin: 0px auto;padding: 0px;”][cs_column fade=”false” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”1/1″ style=”padding: 0px;”][cs_text]Are you looking for advice on managing flu in nursing homes? Influenza or flu is an infectious viral illness spread by coughs and colds. Whilst it can be very unpleasant, it will usually only last up to a week.However, in some instances influenza can lead to further complications and even death, so it is not a disease to be taken lightly.

As any resident with influenza will usually be most infectious from the day that their symptoms start and for a further three to seven days, there is ample opportunity for the influenza infection to spread. What’s more if two or more residents contract influenza then this is defined as an ‘outbreak’ and you will need to follow specific procedures for controlling flu in nursing homes.

If you are unsure what to do in the case of an influenza outbreak then follow these 20 steps:


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  1. If two or more residents or staff members display symptoms of influenza over a 48-hour period contact the <Health Protection Unit. They will then work with your staff and GPs to identify the cause of the outbreak.
  2. If the HPU confirms that there is an influenza outbreak, close your care home to new admissions, including any day care facility.
  3. Ensure that residents are not transferred to other care homes or attend external activities.
  4. Make sure that residents only attend out-patient or investigation appointments where these are clinically urgent.
  5. Care for residents with symptoms of influenza in single rooms until fully recovered and for at least 5 days after the symptoms started.
  6. As far as is possible, ensure that affected residents remain in their rooms and discourage them from using common areas. This always helps tackle the spread of flu in nursing homes.
  7. Make sure that your care home staff work in separate teams: one team caring for residents affected by influenza and the other caring for unaffected residents.
  8. Make it clear that agency and temporary staff that come in contact with affected residents should not work elsewhere (e.g. in a local acute care hospital) until the influenza outbreak is declared over, which will be 7 days after the onset of the last case.
  9. Staff and visitors with influenza symptoms should be excluded from the home until fully recovered and for at least 5 days after the onset of symptoms.
  10. The elderly, very young and pregnant women,who are at greater risk from the complications influenza, should be discouraged from visiting during an outbreak.
  11. Inform visiting health professionals of the influenza outbreak and rearrange non-urgent visits to the home.
  12. Inform the hospital in advance if a resident requires admission to hospital during the influenza outbreak.
  13. Ensure that Virusan handwash and disposable paper towels are available at all sinks.
  14. Wash hands thoroughly using Virusan handwash and water before and after any contact with residents.
  15. Provide 70% alcohol hand rub for visitor use and supplementary use by staff.
  16. Staff should wear single-use plastic aprons and gloves as appropriate when dealing with residents with influenza. The HPU will advise on the use of surgical masks. Dispose of all of these items as infectious waste.
  17. Provide tissues and no-touch bins for used tissue disposal in public areas.
  18. Provide tissues and covered sputum pots for affected residents. Dispose of these items as infectious waste.
  19. Wash residents’ clothes, linen and soft furnishings on a regular basis and keep all rooms clean.
  20. Clean surfaces of lockers, tables & chairs, televisions and floors etc frequently with Virusolve+ diluted at 5%. Always clean hoists, lifting aids, baths and showers thoroughly between patients.

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More tips to tackle flu in nursing homes

We hope you find the above 20 steps useful in tacking the spread of influenza and its risk to residents,

By following these steps you should go a long way towards minimising the spread of the influenza virus in your care home.

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