Posted by Laura Sheath

Infection Prevention and Control in Care Homes

COVID-19 crept into the care industry and the rest of the world in early 2020, suddenly and shockingly shutting down care homes to the outside world and leaving many wondering what would come next.

It changed the way people searched for care. Infection prevention and control became prevalent topics of discussion, so during the pandemic, our team was inundated with questions on how to find a safe care home.

woman calling autumna for care advice during covid, young woman calling for help, care advice over the phone, infection control and prevention

Autumna adapted to the new questions that needed answers

  • People needed to know which care homes they could trust to go above and beyond to control infection in their care settings.

  • They also wanted to know which care homes had strong wifi and network connections, as contact with family was crucial.

  • We received enquiries from people interested in COVID-19 visiting protocols, particularly whether care homes had air filtration technology and open green spaces.

In response, we changed our search functionality to make it easy to search for care on Autumna during and after COVID-19.

What infection prevention and control techniques do care homes use?

In line with the government's latest guidance on infection prevention and control in care homes, care providers use techniques including:

  • good hygiene
  • environment cleaning
  • personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • social distancing
  • testing
  • isolating
daughter visits mum during covid - covid isolation in care homes - outdoor visting space - infection control and prevention in care homes

How do I know when a care home has infection prevention and control processes?

Autumna now requests care providers to evidence infection control measures that go above and beyond those in the latest government guidelines to keep residents, staff, and visitors safe.

woman searching for care advice on autumna, care advice during covid, searching for care homes that are safe, care homes with good infection control and prevention processes

Can I search for care homes with better infection control and prevention processes?

In response to our initial request for infection control information, hundreds of care providers edited their profiles so that when people visit the Autumna website to compare care providers, they can instantly see which are S.A.F.E.

The S.A.F.E accreditation doesn’t mark a care home as COVID-19-free but when you see a green S.A.F.E badge, you know the care provider has taken infection control measures to protect the premises and the people in their care.

S.A.F.E infection control accreditation logo

Additional steps taken to control infection in care homes

To encourage transparency, we added a tab to the Autumna website to ask the care provider questions about the additional measures they’ve taken to prevent and control the spread of infections in their care settings.

Many responded again, updating their profiles to include details about their air filtration systems, improved wifi for greater connection, testing and monitoring and their available outdoor visiting spaces.

Safety is a worrying factor for people to consider when moving themselves or a loved one into a care home. Definitive answers that can be seen quickly on a care provider’s profile provide the clarity and reassurance to make an informed decision.

image of infection control and prevention processes used in care home - autumna encourage safe care homes - white image with text overlaid

Do care homes have air filters to minimise COVID-19 spreading?

COVID-19 presents a disproportionately high risk of illness and death to older people, with the UK’s 400,000 care home residents – many living with multiple health conditions, physical dependency, dementia, and frailty – at even greater risk.

Using technology to decrease the risk of spread of infection was just one of the ways that some care homes in the UK adapted during COVID-19.

Care providers who prove they are using air filtration and purification devices, sterilisation, and disinfection equipment can display the S.A.F.E. badge on their Autumna profile.

man installing air filter in a care home, man with brown hair and a blue t shirt fitting an air filter, infection control and prevention techniques in care homes

Why is strong wifi and a good phone signal important in a care home?

To keep people safe, care workers have to focus on the prevention of infection and spread of disease, and this can require quarantine measures and the isolation of care home residents.

However, it’s well-documented that long-term isolation can have detrimental physical and mental health implications for people of any age.

COVID-19 caused many care home residents to become overwhelmed and lonely during the pandemic. It’s something that many care professionals grapple with, so technology and the capability to connect with friends and family is crucial for the mental well-being of residents.

Connecting with loved ones is vital for people, so if COVID causes chaos and care homes need to stop visitors again, access to technology and a strong Wi-Fi connection is paramount.

Through the Autumna search functionality, care seekers can select to search for rooms with:

  • A telephone point
  • Internet access/wifi
woman smiling as she searches online, old woman on the phone, old woman with goof wifi and phone signal, woman stays connected during covid

Connectivity for resident testing, monitoring & communications

Strong wifi also supports resident testing and monitoring.

The ability to screen for infections, monitor symptoms, track test results, and communicate quickly with other care professionals in the NHS or neighbouring care providers is vital for infection control and quality care.

Can I find a care home with outdoor space for visits?

As well as being able to add the S.A.F.E badge to their Autumna profile, care providers can now also include additional information regarding their outdoor visiting spaces.

white background with text explaining that the care home has outdoor space for visits during covid

During the Coronavirus pandemic, many care homes decided to enforce restricted visiting hours and reduce the number of visitors they had at any time to their care setting.

Typically, those with outdoor green spaces accommodated more visitors, and therefore fewer residents suffered such intense isolation.

green garden with tables at a care home, family visits during covid, covid safe visting space, infection prevention and control in care homes, beautiful green garden

Rooms with balconies or private patios were also in demand during the pandemic, and again, these are searchable via the Autumna portal.

Find a care home with good infection prevention and control processes

We take infection control seriously, and Autumna has big plans to improve safety assurance for everyone. Deciding to move yourself or someone you love into a care setting, even one marked as S.A.F.E, can be an emotional experience - please feel welcome to call our team of elder care experts to talk.

  1. Autumna is your first port of call
  2. You can talk to our expert advisors directly about your search for care
  3. Alternatively, search for care homes with the S.A.F.E badge
  4. You can also fill out a short form if you’d rather have a list of options sent to your email
man happy after finding a care home he can trust, content older man drinking tea after speaking to autumna about care services with good infection control and prevention processes

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Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, individuals who test positive for COVID-19 can be admitted to the care home if the home is satisfied they can be cared for safely. Individuals admitted with a positive test result should be kept away from other residents on arrival and should follow the government guidance on care home residents who test positive for COVID-19.

Individuals being discharged from a hospital into a care home should be tested with a COVID-19 LFD test within 48 hours before planned discharge. This test should be provided and done by the hospital.

Healthcare staff who test positive should stay away from work for a minimum of 5 days after the day they took the test.

After 5 days, staff can return to work once they feel well, and do not have a high temperature. If they are still displaying respiratory symptoms when they return to work, they should speak to their line manager who should undertake a risk assessment.

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