How to prevent outbreaks of Norovirus 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=”1/1″ style=”padding: 0px;”][cs_text]Outbreaks of Norovirus in nursing homes can be particularly nasty. Not only can this gastrointestinal infection cause sickness and diarrhoea but in extreme cases it can also lead to death, particularly with residents aged 85 or over.

Also known as the winter vomiting bug, Norovirus can easily be transmitted from person-to-person via airborne particles or the faecal-oral route, as well as via contaminated surfaces and ‘touch points’ in your care home.

So, if you discover that one of your care home residents is suffering from the Norovirus, then you need to take immediate steps to ensure that this remains an isolated incident and does not become a Norovirus outbreak.

Unfortunately, if just more than one resident becomes infected with the Norovirus your care home will be classed as having a Norovirus outbreak.

At that point, you will need to follow a Norovirus action plan that involves informing relevant authorities, restricting the movement of affected residents and staff and implementing a rigorous cleaning regime throughout your care home.

What is more, you are not allowed to declare the Norovirus outbreak over until at least 48 hours after residents and staff show the last symptoms of the illness.

Clearly, it is therefore ideal if you can ensure any resident suffering from the Norovirus does not go on to infect other residents, staff and visitors.

Fortunately, by taking the right approach to controlling Norovirus in nursing homes you stand a good chance of doing just that.

Here are some tips to help you prevent a Norovirus outbreak:

  • Isolate the affected resident from other care home users

If the resident affected by Norovirus already has their own room, make sure that only dedicated care staff enter the room whilst they are infected.

No other residents or visitors should enter the room whilst the resident is infected with the Norovirus; nor should the resident be allowed to mix with them until 48 hours after displaying the last symptoms of Norovirus.

  • Clean the affected resident with care

As norovirus is easily spread via the faecal-oral route, it is very important that care staff clean up any diarrhoea or vomit carefully. To do this, you should put on gloves and disposable plastic aprons to toilet or clean a resident that has soiled themselves.

You should then dispose of excreta into the toilet or bedpan washer and process commode pots in a bedpan washer, where available. Otherwise, clean the commode pot in a designated area that has a deep sink and remember to use Virusolve+ diluted at 5% with hot water.

This will not only kill Norovirus bacteria within five minutes of contact, but residual action will continue to work for up to 7 days, which will help to contain the infection.

You should also make sure that you clean the commode chairs all over after use, again with Virusolve+ diluted at 5%, to ensure you kill any Norovirus on the chairs.

Ensure Norovirus-infected linen is washed the right way

When handling soiled bed linen or clothes that could be carrying the Norovirus you should always use disposable gloves.

Put any linen that has been contaminated with Norovirus-infected faeces or vomitus in a water-soluble bag and transport it to the laundry immediately.

Whatever you do, do not manually sluice or hand-wash the linen as this could again pose a risk of the infection spreading. Instead, programme the washing machine to run a pre-wash/sluice cycle and follow this with a hot wash.

After handling the soiled bed linen and clothes, remove your gloves with liquid soap and water, then wash your hands with an antimicrobial handwash such as Virusan. Virusan is highly effective and annihilates 99.999% of most common found germs, including Norovirus, in under 30 seconds. Finally, dry your hands thoroughly with disposable hand towels.

• Sanitize all ‘touch points’ that pose a risk of Norovirus infection

In addition to cleaning linen, clothing, toilets and commode chairs properly think about all of the other surfaces that your resident is likely to come into contact with and make sure they are sanitized too, as they can be a key risk area for the spread of Norovirus in nursing homes.

Use Virusolve+ diluted at 5% to clean ‘touch’ points such as toilet flush, door handles, grab-rails, taps and light-switches. As there is a real risk of these things becoming re-infected with Norovirus throughout the day, we would recommend going through this cleaning procedure at least 3 times per day.

In addition, make sure you clean any carpets and soft furnishings with hot water.

• Stress the importance of proper hand hygiene

No matter how thoroughly you try to clean your affected resident and their immediate environment there will always be a risk of Norovirus being transmitted from their room and into the rest of your care home.

For this reason, it is vital that you stress the importance of hand hygiene to all residents, staff and visitors.

Ask them to make sure they wash their hands with an antimicrobial handwash such as Virusan before entering and leaving your care home, and before entering and leaving each resident’s room.

Also ask residents to wash their hands after using the toilet, before they eat and at any other opportunity as required.

Getting on top of Norovirus in nursing homes

We hope you find the above tips useful for preventing Norovirus spreading from one resident to many more.

As you can see, one incidence of Norovirus in your care home does not mean there has to be several.

Instead, by getting everyone onboard with tackling the risk of a Norovirus outbreak, you can significantly increase your chances of avoiding the spread of this potentially life-threatening disease.

For information on cleaning products that are specifically designed to destroy Norovirus in nursing homes click here.[/cs_text][/cs_column][/cs_row][/cs_section][/cs_content]