We Love Infection Preventionists

This week is International Infection Prevention Week and it has never been more important. The Covid-19 pandemic has shown us yet again how quickly dangerous infections can emerge and affect our everyday lives. It is the latest addition to the list of potentially life-threatening infections that we must all try to protect ourselves against.

International Infection Prevention Week runs from 18-24 October and is organised by the Association of Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC). This year’s event highlights the role of infection preventionists – the people who spend their lives working to prevent and eliminate infections. The title of the event is “We Love Infection Preventionists”.

The first International Infection Prevention Week was held in the USA during the 1980s to highlight the key role that infection prevention plays in patient safety and protecting public health. Since then it has grown to become one of the largest annual global events of its kind, bringing together healthcare professionals, administrators, legislators, and the public.

DIVERSEY – SUPPORTING INFECTION PREVENTION WEEK

At Diversey, we are actively promoting International Infection Prevention Week through our social media channels and direct contact with customers. We have also helped raise awareness by producing special posters and other media to share. In addition, we offer a complete range of hand hygiene products.

We know that many infections spread through personal contact and touching contaminated surfaces – and then touching our own eyes, nose or mouth. This is why surface disinfection and washing hands are always central to infection prevention.

The current COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted how hygiene must become everybody’s business because of its critical role in preventing the spread of infection. As part of our duty as a leading cleaning and hygiene company, we continue using all of the opportunities at our hands to provide our communities with tools and resources that outline the best procedures and products to use for effective personal hygiene.

Diversey: Campaigning for Infection Prevention During October 2020

Are Your Hand Hygiene Products Up To Standard?

There has been a huge increase in demand for hand hygiene products during the Covid-19 pandemic. Existing suppliers including Diversey have increased their production capacity while companies from other industries have launched new products to help fill the gap. But how can businesses and their customers be sure that the products they are using are effective? The answer lies in checking that products meet international infection prevention standards.

Personal contact and touching contaminated surfaces – and then touching our own eyes, nose, or mouth – are two of the main ways the virus can spread. Disinfecting or washing our hands frequently helps to prevent this and is something we can all do. Washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds is effective but there are many situations where this is not possible. An alcohol-based hand rub or gel that can be used on its own is an excellent option in these cases.

Professional hand hygiene products are tested against international standards to show they are effective. The UK and Europe use standards described in the EN system. Products that meet these standards must carry details on their packaging and in their documentation. Independent and accredited laboratories carry out this testing under strict conditions. This provides assurance that a product has been verified to meet a particular standard.

The EN14476 Standard

The most important standard related to the Covid-19 pandemic is EN14476. This covers the virucidal activity of chemical disinfectants and antiseptics. It applies to products – including hand rubs and handwashes – used in medical applications.

EN14476 is important at the moment because it includes a specific test against enveloped viruses (in the form of the vaccinia virus). This is the same type of virus as SARS-CoV-2 that causes Covid-19. Enveloped viruses are generally easy to kill so disinfectants which meet the requirements of EN14476 (specifically the “fully virucidal” or “virucidal against enveloped viruses” tests) should be effective against SARS-Cov-2.

The EN14476 standard stipulates a product must deliver a “log 4” reduction in the amount of virus. This is the same as a 10,000-fold or 99.99% reduction and must be achieved within specific timeframes. Hand rubs, for example, must work within at least 30 seconds but take no longer than two minutes, reflecting the need for speed and convenience. Retail or consumer products are rarely tested to these exacting standards and generally claim lower (eg 99.9%) reduction rates.

ASK SUPPLIERS FOR EVIDENCE

Suppliers should be able to show evidence their products meet relevant disinfection standards. They should also offer additional supporting documentation such as user guides and wall charts that encourage frequent and proper use.

Diversey products that meet EN14476 include the Soft Care Des E, Soft Care Med H5, and SURE Instant Hand Sanitizer hand rubs. Each is available in a range of formats including dispenser systems and portable bottles with built-in dispensers. Diversey also offers small bottles for personal use. This provides customers with complete flexibility to select the right combination for every situation to encourage proper and frequent use.

Washing Your Hands To Protect Lives

If we ever needed a reminder of the importance of hand hygiene there is no doubt we have received one this year. Covid-19 is a chilling example of how a new and deadly virus can emerge at any time. We know that personal contact and touching contaminated surfaces – and then touching our own eyes, nose or mouth – are two of the main ways the virus can spread. Washing your hands helps to break this chain of infection and is something we can all do.

On Thursday 15 October we are supporting Global Handwashing Day. This global advocacy day is organised by the Global Handwashing Partnership. It is dedicated to increasing awareness and understanding of the importance of washing your hands with soap as an effective and affordable way to prevent diseases and save lives.

Global Handwashing Day highlights how hand hygiene can stop the spread of infection and protect lives
Hand hygiene has never been more important

The theme of this year’s event is “Hand Hygiene for All.” This follows and aligns with recent global initiatives by the WHO and UNESCO calling on all of society to scale up hand hygiene, especially through handwashing with soap. It reminds us that we must work toward universal access and practice of handwashing with soap for now and for a healthy future.

HOW Hand hygiene impacts health and COVID-19

We have understood the link between hand hygiene and the spread of infections for generations. That is why we are all taught when we are children to wash our hands regularly, such as before eating and after going to the toilet. Medical and scientific advances mean we now know much more about how washing your hands can help prevent the spread of infections:

  • regular handwashing with soap can reduce the likelihood of COVID-19 infection by 36%, based on one study
  • handwashing can reduce acute respiratory infections by 20%
  • handwashing can reduce the transmission of outbreak-related pathogens such as cholera, Ebola, shigellosis, SARS and hepatitis E
  • hand hygiene is protective against healthcare-associated infections and reduces the spread of antimicrobial resistance
  • handwashing can reduce diarrheal diseases by 30% – 48%
  • hand hygiene may contribute to the reduction of Neglected Tropical Diseases

DIVERSEY SUPPORTING GLOBAL HAND HYGIENE DAY

At Diversey, we are actively promoting Global Handwashing Day through our social media channels and direct contact with customers. We have also helped raise awareness by producing special posters and other media to share. In addition, we offer a complete range of hand hygiene products.

The first Global Handwashing Day took place in 2008, when over 120 million children around the world washed their hands with soap in more than 70 countries. Since then, community and national leaders have used Global Handwashing Day to spread the word about handwashing, build sinks and tippy taps, and demonstrate the simplicity and value of clean hands. The event has continued to grow. It is is now endorsed by governments, schools, international institutions, civil society organizations, NGOs, private companies, individuals, and more.

The current COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted how hygiene must become everybody’s business because of its critical role in preventing the spread of infection. As part of our duty as a leading cleaning and hygiene company, we continue using all of the opportunities at our hands to provide our communities with tools and resources that outline the best procedures and products to use for effective personal hygiene.

Diversey: Campaigning for Infection Prevention During October 2020

Infection prevention has never been more important. During October, Diversey is proudly supporting three international campaigns that highlight the significance of cleaning and hygiene in the fight against all types of infection:

October 10: Clean Hospitals Day

October 15: Global Handwashing Day

October 18-24: International Infection Prevention Week

Carry On Hand Hygiene

Reducing cold and flu among care home staff and residents is one of the key objectives of Diversey’s annual “Are You Ready?” campaign.

Good hand hygiene is the single most important way to reduce the spread of infections. Diversey makes this simpler with its personal bottles of hand disinfectants.

Common illnesses such as Influenza and Norovirus peak during winter while many other pathogens remain a threat all year round. Unchecked they can spread by personal contact or touching contaminated surfaces. This is why hand hygiene is so important:

  • Protect residents – reduce their risk of coughs, colds, flu and other common infections
  • Protect yourself – reduce your risk of catching or spreading illnesses
  • Protect employees – fewer illnesses means less time off work
  • Protect business – less lost work time, no unexpected cost of cover, maintain services, stay productive, retain your reputation

Protection is better than cure. Hands must be cleaned frequently – when moving from job to job, area to area, person to person. Diversey makes hand hygiene easier by offering pocket-sized bottles containing Soft Care Med H5 and Des E that users can carry or wear on their belt:

  • Convenient – 100ml small size, always handy
  • Belt/Reel Clip – right by your side when you need it
  • Frequent use – disinfect your hands when moving from job to job, person to person, as often as you like
  • Visible – shows colleagues and customers you care about hygiene
  • No excuses – always there when you need it

The Diversey advantage:

  • Tried and tested products – Soft Care Med H5 and Des E are extensively used by the NHS, healthcare, hotels and food-service customers
  • Excellent protection – against Norovirus, Influenza A (H1N1), rotavirus, hepatitis B, HIV, MRSA and other common infections
  • Kind to skin – Diversey sanitisers look after skin, leaving it soft and smooth to the touch
  • Non-perfumed formulation – ideal for food-service applications without risk of tainting foodstuffs
  • Support – unrivalled application and technical support from a global leader in cleaning and hygiene

Personal bottles and belt clips are just one line of defence against infections. Encouraging your team members to wear them can be part of your ongoing infection and outbreak prevention programme.

Look out for more advice soon as part of our “Are You Ready?” campaign to reduce seasonal illnesses and outbreaks.

Flooding – Practical Cleanup Tips

Choice of Cleaning Chemicals and Practical Tips

Many places are affected by flooding. Photo by Andy Falconer on Unsplash

With many parts of the country currently under water – and maybe more to come – businesses will soon turn attention to their clean-up. There will be many things to deal with after a flood and cleaning should definitely be one of them. Done properly it can help get the business back up and running quickly, effectively and safely.

This is especially important for businesses that prepare and serve food. Water in flooded areas can contain a wide variety of pathogenic organisms from sewage and other materials that could constitute a significant health risk. Water may not be available or will need boiling before use. The Environmental Agency and its local departments issue advice on dealing with flood damage and cleaning up after. Everyone should avoid direct contact with floodwater and associated debris wherever possible.

The following aims to provide some practical advice.

1: Hand Cleaning

hand hygiene is always important but especially after a flood.

Good cleansing of the skin is very important in reducing the risks associated with handling contaminated water/materials. Skin cleansing can be augmented by the use of an alcohol-based hand sanitiser such as Soft Care Med to reduce any hazards associated with pathogenic organisms. This is especially important when the quality of the water used for cleaning the hands is not of drinking quality.

2: Kitchen Surface Sanitising

If kitchen areas have suffered flood water damage it is important to thoroughly clean and sanitise. This should be done for all areas that have come into contact with the flood water by either immersion or by being splashed – if in doubt sanitise all areas. These areas should be thoroughly cleaned using a sanitiser (as outlined below) and then disinfected with another use of the sanitiser.

Clean kitchen surfaces promote food safety.

Floodwater can contain pathogenic organisms that usual kitchen sanitisers may not be effective against. Suitable sanitisers for this purpose contain chlorine (such as Suma Sol D4.8) or hydrogen peroxide (such as Oxivir Plus) as their active ingredient.

Businesses that have been advised to boil water before drinking should also use boiled water for preparing sanitiser solutions and for rinsing.

3: Dishwashing Machines

Dishwashers can clean items soiled during a flood.

If tap water has to be boiled then use the dishwashing machine on its longest, slowest cycle. This will enable the heat to provide disinfection. Check that all wash and rinse jets are clear before washing and the running temperatures should be 55°-65°C for wash 80°-90°C for the final rinse.

4: General Surface Sanitising

Sanitise any surface that could come into contact with food after a flood.

Remove and dispose of all physical debris and damaged items. Then clean these areas thoroughly using a sanitiser, as mentioned. Disinfect with repeat use of the sanitiser.

Floodwater can contain pathogenic organisms that commonly-used sanitisers may not be effective against. Suitable sanitisers for this purpose are those containing a chlorine- or hydrogen peroxide-based bleaching system such as Titan Sanitiser Powder or Titan Chlor plus tablets. For areas that are sensitive to chlorine such as fabric or furniture, we recommend Oxivir Plus.

Businesses that have been advised to boil water before drinking should also use boiled water for preparing sanitiser solutions and for rinsing.

Dry out areas as soon as possible after they have been cleaned and sanitised. This is because damp conditions are favourable for mould and fungal growth which can damage surfaces. Also, their fungal spores can cause health problems.

The same sanitisers used for general cleaning, as outlined above, should be used to remove any mould that is found. An ideal alternative is Sani Mould Out which is specially formulated to remove mould and return surfaces to their sparkling best.

Product Selection Chart

ProductUseActive Based On
Titan Sanitiser Powder All-Surface SanitiserChlorine
Titan Chlor Plus tablets All-Surface SanitiserChlorine
Suma Sol D4.8 Sanitiser for all Kitchen Hard SurfacesChlorine
Oxivir Plus Spray Sanitiser for all Soft Surfaces and FurnishingsOxygen
Soft Care Med/Des  E Hand Disinfectant GelAlcohol
Sani Mould OutMould Remover Chlorine
Floods can cause severe disruption to businesses.

Cleaning up after a flood can be a daunting task. However, a bit of planning and choosing the right products can make the work a bit easier and quicker.

You can download the advice in this post as a ready reference using the link below.

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.

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

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.