MRSA infection control in nursing homes

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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=”2/3″ style=”padding: 0px;”][cs_text]As a care home manager, you may well be concerned about effective MRSA infection control in nursing homes. However, if you find that one of your care home residents has developed MRSA or that someone with MRSA wants to be admitted to your care home there is absolutely no need to worry.

Many people wrongly believe that MRSA is a highly infectious type of bacteria that can spread easily from person to person with potentially fatal consequences.

However, MRSA or Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus actually lives harmlessly on the skin or in the nose of about a third of the population, without causing any infection at all.

In fact, MRSA only becomes a threat to an individual where it enters their body through deep wounds, drips or catheters, hence the concern about MRSA in hospitals.

For people in these situations or for those with severely reduced resistance to infection, such as those with HIV infection, MRSA can indeed be a real threat, causing serious problems such as septicaemia or pneumonia.

However, even then, these individuals will not pose any sort of risk to others, so long as the correct steps are taken to manage any risk of the infection being transferred to other people with wounds, drips or catheters.

For this reason, there is absolutely no justification for refusing to accept a new resident who has MRSA. Simply inform their GP and the member of staff that is responsible for infection control at your care home and take the basic precautions mentioned below.

Basic precautions for preventing MRSA transfer

To minimise the risk of MRSA spreading to other residents, staff or visitors, you will need to follow these basic precautions with the resident with MRSA:

• Make sure you help them to thoroughly wash their hands if they are mentally or physically incapable of doing this themselves

• Don’t let them share a room with another resident that has open sores or wounds, or uses drips or catheters

• Ensure their wounds are properly dressed before they join other residents in communal areas

• Don’t let staff perform intimate nursing care on them if they have eczema or psoriasis

• Ensure staff carry out nursing care on them only after they have done so on other residents

• Only carry out any clinical procedures or apply dressings on them in their own room

• Seek and follow expert infection control advice from the consultant in communicable disease control and/or community infection control nurse for any resident with MRSA who has a post-operative wound or a drip or catheter. In Scotland seek advice from the consultant in public health medicine (CPHM), and/or community infection control nurse.

Mixing with other residents, staff and visitors

As outlined above, so long as your staff take basic good hygiene precautions, residents with MRSA should not pose a risk to other residents or visitors, including babies and pregnant women.

As such, when it comes to MRSA infection control in nursing homes, they should be treated like any other resident. Far from being isolated and cocooned, they should be encouraged to mix with other residents, see visitors and go out of the home, as and when they wish.

What to do if a resident is diagnosed with MRSA

This is very unusual outside hospitals. However, if a resident does become infected with MRSA, their GP should contact the microbiologist at the local hospital for advice on treatment.

Meanwhile, you should ensure that you dress any infected wounds or skin lesions.

What to do if an affected resident needs to go to hospital

If a resident with MRSA needs to go to hospital for any reason, then you should inform the hospital’s infection control doctor or nurse if the resident needs inpatient treatment.

Equally, you should inform the relevant department if the resident is to receive outpatient treatment.

More advice for MRSA infection control in nursing homes

Hopefully, the above guidance will help you handle the risk of the spread of MRSA in your nursing home.

However, if you are still concerned you can always contact your local Health Protection Team (HPT), which will help you deal with health related incidents, such as infections.

Click here to find contact information for your regional HPT. Also, if you want guidance on general hygiene to help control infection in your care home, click here to visit our Training Hub for downloadable guides.

Finally, if you want to source antimicrobial cleaning products that are specifically designed to help with MRSA infection control in nursing homes click here.

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