Safe & Effective Ongoing Infection Prevention for Care Homes

Protecting residents in care homes from infections is an all-year-round priority but there are additional challenges during winter when there are usually peaks in serious illnesses such as Influenza and Norovirus. These can be life-threatening to residents, many of whom are likely to be frail and vulnerable. Because of this seasonal link, we’re focusing on care homes in our annual “Are You Ready?” campaign.

Infection prevention relies on rigorous hand hygiene and surface disinfection. This helps to break the chain of infection because most illnesses are caused by personal contact or touching a contaminated surface.

Effective surface disinfection is critical. Well-run homes will have a daily cleaning regime that focuses on the areas used by residents and staff to maintain a clean and hygienic environment. The latest thinking by authorities such as the World Health Organisation (WHO) is that additional attention should be paid to frequent-touch surfaces. In care homes, these might include light switches, door handles, table-tops, bed rails, remote controls and similar devices, telephones and touch-screens. Additional hand-hygiene frequency among staff is also recommended – such as when moving from task to task or resident to resident – to achieve the highest levels of protection.

Many care homes use traditional cleaners and disinfectants containing chlorine or “quats” as their active ingredient. Used correctly these will be effective at removing the common pathogens and microbes that cause illnesses but they can be complicated to use in care homes. Separate products may be required for the cleaning and the disinfection (and to eliminate different types of pathogen) and not all can be used easily on the variety of surfaces likely to be found in the care home.

Products containing chlorine are also suspected of aggravating asthma and other respiratory problems and forming chlorine compounds in the atmosphere. This can create an unpleasant environment for residents at best but for the frail, it can aggravate underlying health conditions and lead to additional suffering.

Given the ongoing requirement for cleaning and disinfection, there are good reasons for using a single combined product for both tasks. This way, disinfection automatically takes place whenever any cleaning task is undertaken. It becomes an ongoing process that is completely embedded within the care home’s daily routine. That can raise standards and compliance rates with a resultant reduction in infections.

In the past, it was difficult to find a single cleaner-disinfectant formulation that simplified processes, saved time and improved productivity without compromising on any infection prevention capability. This changed when Diversey introduced its Oxivir range of products containing innovative Accelerated Hydrogen Peroxide (AHP) as the active ingredient.

AHP is a patented blend of commonly used, safe ingredients that when combined with low levels of hydrogen peroxide dramatically increase its germicidal potency and cleaning performance. Tested to the latest EN standards, disinfectants containing AHP are highly effective against a wide range of viruses including Influenza and Norovirus as well as spores, yeasts, and fungi. This ability to kill many different types of pathogens is known as “broad-spectrum capability”.

Products containing AHP offer an effective alternative to formulations with chlorine compounds as the active ingredient. They do not contain respiratory irritants. The AHP degrades to oxygen and water alone shortly after use which helps make formulations containing it safer to use on a wider range of surfaces, including fabrics and washroom surfaces. Many AHP-based formulations have no safety classification which means they can be used in a wider range of settings, including care homes, with fewer restrictions. Chlorine-based products, on the other hand, usually carry a hazard symbol.

Products in the Oxivir range include:

Oxivir Excel: a fast-acting cleaner-disinfectant that can replace general surface cleaning products for routine tasks and provide affordable ongoing infection protection. It is effective against viruses such as Influenza and Norovirus in just 30 seconds. It is available as a convenient, ready-to-use, spray or in five-litre containers for simple dilution.

Oxivir Excel Wipes: disposable ready-to-use wipes, convenient for on-the-spot use. These are also ideal for giving portable or high touch items such as remote controls a quick clean.

Oxivir Spill Kit: a ready-to-use kit with everything needed to contain and remove body spillages quickly and easily. Each kit contains a 750ml Oxivir Excel spray, absorbent granules, scoops, bags and all the personal protection equipment (PPE) needed to deal with spillages.

Diversey’s Oxivir range offers care homes the opportunity to replace conventional infection prevention products with safer and more effective alternatives. Our annual “Are You Ready?” campaign aims to provide useful information about how to protect yourself and others from seasonal illnesses such as Norovirus and Influenza.

Hand Hygiene Helps Fight Antimicrobial Resistance

Hand hygiene in hospitals

Growing concerns about the spread of antimicrobial resistance mean that healthcare workers must use every technique and tool at their disposal to protect lives and prevent infections. Despite many pharmaceutical and technical advances, good hand hygiene and surface disinfection remain central to all infection prevention programmes. This is because they are the simplest and most effective way to break the chain of infection.

The discovery of antibiotics in the first half of the last century gave doctors a powerful weapon against common infections for the first time in human history. Simple, often naturally occurring, compounds had the power to destroy many common infections that until that time had been life-threatening and hard to defeat. They saved and transformed countless lives in the following decades.

Breaking the chain of infection (Public Health England)

However, it soon became clear that many of the pathogens so easily treated with antibiotics were beginning to develop immunity. Even the simplest and smallest lifeforms have a tremendous ability to adapt and change to ensure their survival. It’s an arms race. Pathogens develop resistance and scientists and drug companies try to develop new antibiotics. But it’s a battle that is hard to win. It often seems that the microbes are faster at adapting than we are at developing weapons against them. This may explain, in part, why no new class of antibiotics has been introduced in the past three decades.

Antibiotic discovery and resistance timeline (Public Health England)

Many pathogens that were easily killed by the commonest – and least expensive – antibiotics have developed resistance. This means illnesses and infections that were easy to treat just a few decades ago have become life-threatening once again. According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), about 33,000 people in Europe die each year due to infections caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria. This is almost 2.5 times higher than in 2007. The burden of antibiotic-resistant infections is almost as great as the total risk of influenza, tuberculosis and HIV. 

The World Health Organisation says that antimicrobial resistance “is no longer a prediction for the future, it is happening right now in every region of the world and has the potential to affect anyone, of any age, in any country…[and is] is a major threat to public health.”

Some sources suggest there will be an additional 10 million deaths worldwide over the next 30 years. This will cost £66 trillion in economic output.

Global deaths due to antimicrobial resistance could reach 10 million by 2050 (Public Health England)

Although antibiotics offered – and still do – new ways of killing dangerous pathogens of concern, many conventional infection prevention techniques are just as important today. Hand hygiene in conjunction with new methods of surface disinfection helps to break the chain of infection. It is simple, effective and generally less expensive than alternative approaches and techniques.

The reasons for this are easy to understand. The majority – perhaps up to 80% or four in five – of infections are spread by hand-to-hand contact or touching a contaminated surface. This is why hand hygiene and surface disinfection form the backbone of all infection prevention regimes. People reduce the chances of infection if they keep their hands and surfaces they touch as clean as possible.

Antimicrobial resistance infographic (WHO/World Health Organisation)

This is not to say that “traditional” techniques have not evolved thanks to better research and understanding. The WHO has promoted its “five moments of hand hygiene” for many years. Local initiatives and global awareness campaigns with this simple message are making a big difference to people all over the world.

Studies have shown that simple handwashing with soap and water is more effective than doing nothing at all. The simple mechanical action of washing removes enough pathogens to reduce the risk of infection although there is no disinfection involved. Other studies have shown that concentrating on the fingertips is also more effective than general hand cleansing. This, incidentally, is part of the thinking behind the TMED approach.

Modern hospitals often require a more rigorous and disciplined approach. Hand hygiene formulations used in healthcare must be effective, of course. But they should also support the frequent use called for in initiatives such as the “five moments”. To do this they need to be pleasant to use without causing any damage to delicate skin. At the same time, advances in dispenser design aim to maximise product availability and reduce (or ideally eliminate) the risk of running out. They do this with a range of features including bigger pack sizes, making visual checks easier, emitting warnings when running low, and even allowing remote checks over the Internet.

The latest thinking in the healthcare sector builds on the “five moments” with the Targeted Moments of Environmental Disinfection (TMED). This builds on the simple “five moments” message but instead focuses on the surfaces that people are most likely to touch. As with the “five moments” it is simple to explain and replicate. Together, the “five moments” and TMED offer the prospect of greatly improved infection prevention outcomes with relatively little additional cost or effort.

Other advances have focused on the type of surface disinfectants used in healthcare settings. There is some evidence that conventional disinfectants containing chlorine as their active ingredient can enable antimicrobial resistance because of the way they work at the biological level. Innovative active ingredients containing Accelerated Hydrogen Peroxide kill pathogens in a different way which may mean there is a reduced risk of them becoming resistant.

Products containing AHP are effective against a wider range of pathogens than chlorine-based alternatives. They are simple and easy to use in a wide range of applications. We refer to this as “broad-spectrum” performance. It would need numerous conventional alternatives to achieve the same level of efficacy. This can be complex, time-consuming and expensive.

To be effective, surface disinfection processes must be simple and accessible so that they can be completed whenever needed. They must also be acceptable to healthcare workers and visitors. This means, for example, that disinfectants must be non-hazardous and non-irritating. Finally, processes must be fast because anything that adds time or becomes a burden is less likely to be done.

Diversey is participating in the Annual Infection Prevention and Control Conference, organised by Knowlex and the NHS. The event takes place in Birmingham on 13 February 2020.

Restaurants – Are You Ready?

The run-up to Christmas and New Year is one of the busiest times of the year for restaurants and party venues. Many will be running at near capacity with high levels of advanced bookings let alone increased numbers just dropping in on the day. Any disruption to the restaurant’s normal operations will likely have a bigger impact now than during quieter periods.

But this is also the time of the year when seasonal illnesses such as Influenza and Norovirus are at their peak. The colder weather allows the viruses that cause these illnesses to thrive and people are generally spending more time indoors, closer together, which makes it easier for illnesses to spread.

Restaurants need to protect themselves against the risk of these illnesses. Diversey’s “Are You Ready?” campaign helps provide the information and advice to do just that.

Let’s look at some of the risks.

Lost Business: any outbreak has the potential to cause lost revenues. Losing one or two covers or bookings will be annoying but anything which causes the kitchen to close will be disastrous. In the most extreme cases, the restaurant can be forced to close until the cause of an outbreak is eliminated.

Bad Publicity: the Christmas period is critical for many restaurants. Any outbreak – or even the suggestion of an outbreak – can be bad news at the best of times. But this is especially so during the peak season when many people are holding special events and parties. Bad publicity whether through word-of-mouth, social media, booking and review websites, or in the mainstream media will deter diners from visiting or returning. This can cause long-lasting damage to the restaurant’s reputation which can be hard to win back.

Staff Shortages: if employees become ill they will need time off work. At this time of the year that can be bad news because it won’t be easy to find temporary replacements at short notice, especially if the person is highly skilled or experienced. Staff shortages place additional pressure on remaining employees during an intense period. This raises the risk of corners cut and mistakes made that can impact on good service and the reputation of the restaurant. On top of this, staff who become ill can also spread their infections to colleagues and customers before they show any symptoms. This makes it doubly important to ensure all staff follow the best possible personal hygiene and food safety practices to minimise the risk of becoming ill.

Restaurants quite rightly take food safety seriously at all times of the year. But during the peak Christmas and New Year season, additional vigilance will help provide the maximum protection against the risks. There is a clear and established link between the spread of illnesses, personal hygiene and surface cleaning. Around 80 per cent of illnesses are spread by personal contact or by touching a contaminated surface or object. Here are a few simple infection prevention steps for restaurants and their teams to help avoid the risk of catching and spreading illnesses:

  • Make sure staff understand the risks of seasonal illness
  • Make sure staff understand the correct processes and products to use for each food safety task
  • Always wash hands when switching between handling raw and cooked foods and ingredients
  • Always wash hands after visiting the toilet
  • Always wash hands when entering the kitchen
  • Sanitise food preparation surfaces whenever switching between handling raw and cooked ingredients
  • Always clean table-tops before each new group of guests
  • Clean frequent-touch items such as door handles, serving equipment touched by staff and diners, touchscreens, payment terminals and so on as often as possible
  • Use food-suitable hand hygiene products with no perfumes and proven infection capabilities
  • Use hand hygiene products that are suitable for frequent use
  • Use surface sanitisers suitable for kitchen use and with proven performance
  • Keep a spill kit in a convenient location to deal with body spills quickly, easily and professionally so as to protect guests and employees

Protecting Against Coronavirus

The emergence of a new Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is another reminder than potentially dangerous and lethal illnesses can arise at any time. Previous outbreaks of similar illnesses such as Influenza and SARS have often started when existing viruses have mutated into something more dangerous or transferred from animals to humans.

A new form of coronavirus - 2019-nCoV - has emerged
A new form of coronavirus – 2019-nCoV – has emerged

At the moment the precise nature of this new Coronavirus pathogen is unknown. It is believed the virus is associated with wild game being sold in a seafood market in Wuhan, China, although we do not know for certain which animals were infected. Nor do we know its incubation period, how fast it can spread, how many people it infects or how many of those affected face the severest of outcomes. Those answers will come soon enough and scientists and medical researchers around the world are working as hard and fast as they can to find out.

In the meantime, there are some things we can be sure of. It’s a respiratory virus and that means the primary lines of defence will as always be good cough/sneeze etiquette as well as regular and effective hand hygiene and surface disinfection. Because of this, it is also important to avoid touching your face, eyes or mouth with unwashed hands.

Hand Hygiene

We have covered the link between hand hygiene and the spread of infections many times before. In brief, because most illnesses are spread by personal contact or touching a contaminated surface, keeping hands clean will remove any pathogens and break one of the key links in the chain of infection. We have also written about the choice of products available and how they can be used with high-performance dispensers to reduce infection rates and improve compliance.

Frequent hand hygiene is a sensible and essential precaution against illnesses such as coronavirus
Frequent hand hygiene is a sensible and essential precaution against illnesses such as coronavirus

Diversey offers globally-trusted hand care formulations in our Soft Care and SURE ranges. Widely used in hospitals, care homes and other settings where infection prevention is critical our hand hygiene ranges comprise a complete set of colour-coded soaps, sanitisers and creams meeting a wide range of international infection prevention standards.

Surface Disinfection

Keeping surfaces clean to remove pathogens of concern is the other critical step in breaking any potential chain of infection. We have also written about this many times before, including here.

Diversey offers a complete range of surface disinfectants and sanitisers for use in a wide range of applications. In many settings, where the aim is to protect against and prevent multiple pathogens of concern, our Oxivir range of products offers an excellent solution. Each product contains patented Accelerated Hydrogen Peroxide (AHP) – a blend of commonly used, safe ingredients and low levels of hydrogen peroxide. This dramatically increases the potency and cleaning performance of Oxivir products against a wide range of pathogens including viruses such as Coronavirus, bacteria and yeasts.

Frequently-touched surfaces should be disinfected regularly to protect against illnesses such as coronavirus
Frequently-touched surfaces should be disinfected regularly to protect against illnesses such as coronavirus

The simplest and quickest way to introduce this innovative infection-prevention performance is with Oxivir Excel in its ready-to-use form. This cleaner disinfectant can be used for regular and daily cleaning on a wide range of surfaces. It is fully viricidal against non-enveloped and enveloped viruses in 30 seconds.

What You Can Do

The new Coronavirus has already been designated a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) by the WHO (World Health Organisation). It has already affected at least 20,000 people, mainly in China but also in more than 25 other countries, with well over 400 deaths confirmed. There is some evidence of person-to-person transmission, which is why personal hygiene is important.

Although it has spread fast, the virus has not yet been designated as a pandemic by the WHO. It’s too soon to say if it will become a pandemic or whether it will fade away in the coming months. Nevertheless, it shows once again that potentially dangerous illnesses can arise anywhere and at any time. So it pays to be prepared. In any case, the triple prevention methods of good cough/sneeze etiquette, hand hygiene and surface disinfection should always be considered essential “best practice” because they reduce the risk of contracting and spreading most major illnesses.

In addition to adhering to these simple practices, it is also sensible to avoid close contact wherever possible with sick people, especially if they have been to Wuhan. Most governments and official agencies are also recommending that people avoid non-essential travel to China.

Further Advice

The new 2019-nCoV coronavirus happened to emerge in China but previous outbreaks of similar illnesses show us they can arise at any time in any location. As the US CDC (Centers for Disease Control) recommends: do not show prejudice to people of Asian descent, because of fear of this new virus. Do not assume that someone of Asian descent is more likely to have 2019-nCoV.

Keep an eye out for more updates from Diversey about the latest developments with how to prevent Coronavirus. If you have any questions, contact our customer helpdesk on 0800 525525 or speak with you Diversey contacts direct. They will be able to help and advise.

Care Homes – Are You Ready?

Care home residents are among the most vulnerable in society. The consequences of illnesses at any time of the year can be severe which is why care homes are always vigilant. But seasonal illnesses such as Norovirus and Influenza present an additional risk during the winter months. Illnesses like these peak over winter because the colder weather allows the viruses that cause them to persist. At the same time, people generally spend more time indoors which makes it easier for illnesses to spread.

Our “Are You Ready?” campaign offers advice and guidance to help homes protect their residents and give the best possible care.

Let’s start by looking at some of the risks.

Residents: any outbreak has the potential to have severe consequences for residents. Illnesses such as Influenza and Norovirus are bad enough for those fortunate to have good health and strong immune systems. But for people who are generally frail or have an underlying health issue – including the elderly – these illnesses can be life-threatening.

Added Costs/Lower Revenues: at the very least, care homes affected by an outbreak will need to introduce additional cleaning measures to eliminate the causes and prevent further infections. This costs money, takes time and may mean rooms are out of use and therefore not generating income. In more extreme cases the outbreak might be investigated by regulators. The home could be forced to close individual rooms, sections or even the whole facility until the cause of an outbreak is eliminated.

Bad Publicity: the Christmas period should be a happy time for residents, visitors and staff. Any outbreak – or even the suggestion of an outbreak – can be bad news at the best of times. But this is especially so at this time of the year when people want to celebrate with friends and family. Nobody wants to associate and remember a happy time with illness and suffering. Bad publicity whether through word-of-mouth, social media, review websites, or in the mainstream media can cause long-lasting damage to the care home’s reputation which can be hard to win back.

Staff Shortages: if employees become ill they will need time off work. At this time of the year that can be bad news because it won’t be easy to find temporary replacements at short notice, especially if the person is highly skilled or experienced. Staff shortages place additional pressure on the remaining employees. This raises the risk of corners cut and mistakes made that can impact on the good service and the reputation of the care home. On top of this, staff who become ill can also spread their infections to colleagues and residents before they show any symptoms. This makes it doubly important to ensure all staff follow the best possible personal hygiene practices to minimise the risk of becoming ill.

Care homes quite rightly take the safety of their residents seriously at all times of the year. But during the peak Christmas and New Year season, additional vigilance will help provide the maximum protection against the risks. There is a clear and established link between the spread of illnesses, personal hygiene and surface cleaning. Around 80 per cent of illnesses are spread by personal contact or by touching a contaminated surface or object. Here are a few simple infection prevention steps for care homes to help avoid the risk of catching and spreading illnesses:

  • Check that residents and staff have been immunised against Influenza
  • Make sure staff understand the risks of seasonal illness
  • Check staff understand the correct cleaning and hygiene processes and products to use
  • Ensure staff wash their hands between different tasks
  • Staff should wash their hands before helping a different resident
  • Everyone should always wash hands after visiting the toilet
  • Place portable and/or wall-mounted hand hygiene dispensers at convenient locations throughout the home
  • Give staff their own portable bottle of hand disinfectant
  • Choose hand hygiene products that are suitable for frequent use
  • Clean frequent-touch surfaces such as door handles, light switches, remote controls, touchscreens, table-tops and so on as often as possible
  • Use surface sanitisers that are simple, effective and suitable for a wide range of surfaces
  • Keep a spill kit in a convenient location to deal with body spills quickly, easily and professionally so as to protect guests and employees

Wuhan Coronavirus – Quick Reference and Response Guide

An outbreak of a new coronavirus in Wuhan China has infected several hundred people causing viral pneumonia and a number of reported deaths. We have prepared this Quick Reference and Response Guide to provide more information about the virus and help you protect against it.

Please share the link to this page or download and share the PDF version of the guide using the link below.

Schools – Are You Ready?

Children are among the groups most vulnerable to seasonal illnesses such as Norovirus and Influenza. This is the time of the year when these illnesses are at their peak. The colder weather allows the viruses that cause these illnesses to persist and people are generally spending more time indoors, closer together, which makes it easier for illnesses to spread.

Schools, of course, want to ensure a safe environment for pupils and staff. But they also need to achieve high attendance records so that nobody misses vital lessons or falls behind. Our “Are You Ready?” campaign helps schools implement simple but effective processes to keep children and staff safe.

Let’s look at some of the risks.

Pupils and Students: any outbreak will have significant consequences for pupils and students. Illnesses such as Influenza and Norovirus can mean time off school, missing vital lessons or special events only held at this time of the year. Those fortunate to have good health and strong immune systems will normally recover quickly. But for anyone who has an underlying health issue these illnesses can be life-threatening.

Attendance Rates: an outbreak can spread quickly in a school or college environment. An individual pupil’s attendance record will be affected but the overall total for the school will also stack up fast. While these absences are easily explained the headline figures will still show reduced attendance levels. More importantly, the disruption to normal classroom schedules means additional time and resources will be needed later to help pupils and students make up for lost time.

Bad Publicity: the run-up to Christmas should be a happy time for pupils, teachers and other staff members with lots of special events and parties taking place. Any outbreak – or even the suggestion of an outbreak – can be bad news at the best of times. Nobody wants to associate and remember a happy time with illness and suffering. Bad publicity whether through word-of-mouth, social media or the mainstream media can cause long-lasting damage to the school or college’s reputation which can be hard to win back.

Staff Shortages: if teachers or staff members become ill they will need time off. At this time of the year, it won’t be easy to find temporary replacements at short notice, especially if the person is highly skilled or experienced. Staff shortages place additional pressure on remaining team members. On top of this, staff who become ill can also spread their infections to colleagues and customers before they show any symptoms. This makes it doubly important to ensure all staff follow the best possible personal hygiene and food safety practices to minimise the risk of becoming ill.

Schools take infection prevention seriously at all times of the year. But during the peak Christmas and New Year season, additional vigilance will help provide the maximum protection against the risks. There is a clear and established link between the spread of illnesses, personal hygiene and surface cleaning. Around 80 per cent of illnesses are spread by personal contact or by touching a contaminated surface or object. Here are a few simple infection prevention steps to help schools avoid the risk of catching and spreading illnesses:

  • Make sure all staff and pupils understand the risks of seasonal illness
  • Check that cleaning staff understand the correct processes and products to use
  • Everyone should wash their hands frequently, but especially after going to the toilet and before eating food
  • Place additional portable and/or wall-mounted hand hygiene dispensers at convenient locations throughout the school
  • Ask visitors to wash their hands when they arrive
  • Give staff members their own personal bottle of hand disinfectant
  • Choose hand disinfectants and hygiene products that are suitable for frequent use
  • Clean frequent-touch surfaces such as door handles, light switches, portable equipment used by pupils and/or staff, touchscreens, tablets, table-tops as often as possible
  • Use surface sanitisers that are simple, effective and suitable for a wide range of surfaces
  • Keep a spill kit in a convenient location to deal with body spills quickly, easily and professionally so as to protect pupils, teachers and support teams

Targeted Moments Can Help Reduce Infection Rates

Healthcare organisations, researchers and solutions providers are making tremendous progress in the ongoing fight against healthcare-associated infections (HAIs). One of the latest approaches is to focus on disinfecting surfaces touched most frequently by staff and patients, rather than trying to clean all surfaces all the time. Known as Targeted Moments of Environmental Disinfection (TMED), its aim is to maximise outcomes with better use of time and resources.

The threat from infections caused by antimicrobial resistance is real and present. The most recently available statistics covering England are for 2018/9. There were 83,000 cases of E. coli, Klebsiella spp., P. aeruginosa, MRSA and MSSA bacteraemia, and clostridium difficile (C.diff). These affected 73,000 patients and resulted in more than 12,700 patient deaths. That’s around one in six or 16 per cent of infection-cases.

The Government has outlined a five-year action plan as part of its wider 20-year vision for tackling antimicrobial resistance. A key target is to reduce drug-resistant infections by 10% by 2025. Other targets include reducing antibiotic use in humans by 15% and reducing gram-negative blood-stream-infections. Stakeholders including hospitals, community health facilities and care homes must act and coordinate their contributions to meet these objectives.

Targeted Moments of Environmental Disinfection aims to reduce infection rates by focusing on critical areas
Targeted Moments – disinfecting a patient’s bed.

We have covered the link between infection rates, surface disinfection and hand hygiene before. TMED builds on the “five moments of hand hygiene” promoted by the WHO and other agencies with great success over many years.

Studies suggest that somewhere between 20 and 40 per cent of HAIs arise when a healthcare worker passes on pathogens from one patient to the next. Pathogens can remain on frequent touch surfaces and survive for extended periods, sometimes months. Anyone who touches these surfaces can pass the pathogens on to other people. There is a higher risk of acquiring certain pathogens if a room was previously occupied by a colonised or infected patient. All of this helps explain why effective hand hygiene and surface disinfection are important when aiming to prevent infections.

There is a growing realisation that even with high levels of compliance, the tried and tested methodologies can be improved. It is always important to clean surfaces likely to be touched by patients or staff. But people will probably touch some surfaces more than others during the day. Under these circumstances, the idea of once-a-day disinfection could be inadequate and put patients and staff at increased risk. Studies show that nurses, medical staff, clinical and non-clinical staff and visitors touch each bed rail up to 250 times every day.

With TMED the objective is to adopt a more focused approach. All areas are cleaned and disinfected daily, as before. But extra attention is given to frequent touch and high-risk surfaces. In practice, this means cleaning items such as bed rails, table-tops and light switches more often. Going further, studies suggest that additional disinfection at the point of care (where three elements come together: patient, healthcare worker and care or treatment involving contact with the patient or their surroundings) will help reduce infection rates. This means the five most critical moments for disinfection are:

      • Before placing a food/drink on an over-bed table
      •  After any procedure involving faeces or respiratory secretions within the patient bed space
      •  Before/after any aseptic practice (wounds, lines, etc.)
      •  After patient bathing (within bed space)
      •  After any object used by/on a patient touches the floor

Targeted Moments of Environmental Disinfection aims, in effect, to disinfect on demand. This means cleaning hands and disinfecting surfaces before and after each of these critical moments. Put another way, it is everyone’s job to disinfect, but it is not everyone’s job to disinfect everything every time. To be effective these processes must be simple and accessible so that they can be completed whenever needed. They must also be acceptable to healthcare workers and visitors. This means, for example, that disinfectants must be non-hazardous and non-irritating. Finally, processes must be fast because anything that adds time or becomes a burden is less likely to be done.

Diversey is participating in the Annual Infection Prevention and Control Conference, organised by Knowlex and the NHS. The event takes place in Birmingham on 13 February 2020.

Winter is Coming

Winter is coming. And that means there’s going to be a peak in illnesses such as Norovirus and Influenza. It happens every year and it’s easy to predict. But it’s also easy to protect yourself and those around you with some simple cleaning and hygiene tips. At Diversey, our annual “Are You Ready?” campaign is designed to offer help and guidance to minimise the risks from these and other common illnesses.

Norovirus (sometimes called Winter Vomiting Disease) is unpleasant at the best of times. It causes considerable and sudden discomfort to anyone unfortunate to suffer it, with symptoms including vomiting and diarrhoea, although most people will recover after a few days. Influenza (“the Flu”) can be more serious. Anyone with a weakened immune system – children, the elderly, people with an underlying health condition- can be at risk of severe consequences, including death.

Both illnesses are present all year round but statistics show that they peak during winter. Evidence suggests that viruses like these are more stable in cold air, so they can survive for longer and have more chance to infect someone new. The lower humidity associated with cooler temperatures also means that tiny water droplets containing the virus and produced by coughs or sneezes can remain airborne for longer, giving them more time contaminate a surface or be breathed in by someone.

On top of this, we all spend more time indoors during Winter because it’s cold or because we are attending parties or family get-togethers over the holiday season. That means there is more chance for viruses to pass from person to person or by touching contaminated surfaces.

Particular industries and sectors are at an increased risk from the effects of Norovirus and Influenza, including:

Schools/Colleges: children, especially the very young, are among the groups most vulnerable to Norovirus and Influenza. During winter, in particular, pupils will be indoors more and closer together so there is more chance of illnesses spreading. Schools, of course, want to ensure a safe environment for pupils and staff. But they also need to achieve high attendance records so that nobody misses vital lessons or falls behind. Our “Are You Ready?” campaign helps schools implement simple but effective processes to keep children and staff safe.

Care Homes: residents are, by definition, among the most vulnerable in society. Illnesses such as Norovirus and Influenza can be even more serious for the weak and frail than for those fortunate to have good health. Our “Are You Ready?” campaign offers advice and guidance to help homes protect their residents and give the best possible care.

Restaurants: it’s party season and restaurants and hospitality venues are doing a lot of business. Nobody wants their customers to get ill but any outbreak also poses the risk of bad publicity and lost business. Nor do restaurants want their staff to be off sick because it disrupts ongoing operations and places extra burdens on remaining employees during one of the busiest times of the year. Our “Are You Ready?” campaign helps restaurants and hospitality venues to minimise the risk of infections and make the most of their most important season.

Many people receive an annual flu jab to protect against this terrible illness. In addition to protecting the individual, immunisation also prevents the virus from spreading because it breaks the chain of infection, giving it fewer opportunities to pass on to new victims. However, there is no injection to protect against Norovirus.

But as with most illnesses, Norovirus and Influenza are usually spread through personal contact or by touching a contaminated surface. That’s why all infection prevention advice focuses on a combination of hand hygiene and surface disinfection. We’ll be going into more detail in later “Are You Ready?” blogs to help make sure You Are Ready.