Sanitation in Nursing Facilities: What You Need to Know to Protect Residents

Sanitation is a major concern when it comes to eldercare.

It’s never easy to maintain nursing home sanitation. Caring for elderly and disabled residents requires exceptionally high care home cleaning standards and constant attention to detail. But strict adherence to nursing home cleaning procedures can result in healthier resident outcomes and fewer health issues for staff.

Any infectious disease can spread like wildfire through the closed environment and close contact of a long-term care facility. A wide-spread and deadly disease—like the recent COVID-19 pandemic—requires the implementation of detailed infection prevention practices.

Enhanced personal hygiene and surface disinfection can go a long way toward keeping residents healthy. Here are the new guidelines your staff should follow to maintain proper cleanliness standards in your care facility.

Nursing Home Sanitation—Life or Death

Running a senior care facility combines medical care with social, environmental, technical, and psychological solutions that all interact and impact the quality of life for those individuals who live there.

Staff ability to maintain sanitation—especially on surfaces—is a critical factor that impacts every solution and service your assisted living and nursing home community provides to its residents. Thorough nursing home cleaning procedures, or lack thereof, are very literally a matter of life or death.

Assisted living and senior care facilities have very specific cleaning and sanitation demands that cannot be delayed, avoided, or ignored. As with other medical facilities, schools, and child-care centers, nursing facilities regularly encounter difficult and potentially dangerous or even deadly infectious diseases.

Exposure to contagious germs and bacteria is more likely in nursing facilities due to cleaning scenarios that occur. Your elderly residents may have weaker immune systems, antimicrobial resistance, and a wide range of other medical conditions that make them more vulnerable to infection.

Sanitation and hygiene are vital at all stages of elderly care. Surfaces can easily become soiled with many potentially infectious and hazardous contaminants—some obvious and others less so. The speed, accuracy, and efficiency needed to clean up any and every type of spill, accident, or other scenarios common in nursing facilities depend not only on you and your staff but also on the cleaning services you may employ.

To ensure that nursing home sanitation and other assisted living scenarios are part of the everyday work culture, care providers should have a comprehensive system established. Safe sanitation occurs when both building service contractors in charge of cleaning assisted living facilities and your staff practice clearly defined standards and procedures.

Here are the nursing home cleaning procedures necessary to maintain healthy care home cleaning standards.

Hot Water Temperature Standards for Senior Living

Hot water in nursing facilities is especially important for sanitation standardsIt may seem obvious, but hot water is at the very core of cleanliness. Hot water is often the base to which cleaning solutions are added. Even without cleaning chemicals, hot water assists with killing many germs and bacteria—so long as it is at the correct temperature. Of course, hot water alone is not enough. There are a wide variety of cleaning chemicals and solutions designed to meet the specific requirements for sanitation in nursing facilities.

Hot water is often a part of the activation of various cleaning chemicals, acting as the dissolving agent (solvent) to form the cleaning solution used in the sanitation of surfaces. Hot water doesn’t stay hot for long, and the hot water temperature is often as important as the solution itself.

Maintaining the correct temperatures is critical to sanitation standards and the overall health and well-being at your senior care facilities. Below are just a few examples of hot water temperature standards needed to maintain sanitation in nursing facilities:

  • Nursing home hot water temperature regulations for laundry require a minimum of 140° F for sanitizing linens, killing germs and bacteria left behind on bedding and towels.
  • Keeping kitchen equipment and dishes sanitized, and clean requires 140-180°F water.
  • Hot water for bathing should never exceed 120°F.

Regular, professional service and maintenance of your on-site commercial water heating system help ensure that your assisted living and senior care nursing facilities always meets nursing home hot water temperature regulations.

To ensure compliance, you may want to consider renting your commercial water heater to better protect your nursing facility and residents. This option guarantees that you have all of the equipment, maintenance, and replacement services needed to ensure your nursing care facility never lacks hot water.

3 Essential Standards for Sanitation in Nursing Homes

1. Latex and Vinyl Gloves

Latex gloves and other medical protection helps prevent the transfer of bacteria and illness in your facilityLatex and vinyl gloves are a modern standard to protect your residents, staff, and visitors from the spread of harmful germs and disease. According to the CDC, 1 to 3 million serious infections occur every year in long-term care facilities each year.

This alarming revelation reveals and emphasizes how critical it is that staff uses sterile protective gloves. From food preparation to laundry, bathing, cleaning, and sterilization procedures, the correct—or incorrect—use of gloves is another matter of life or death importance.

Perhaps the most important thing to remember about using protective gloves is that they must be changed after every single use, especially when it comes to scenarios that involve sanitation in nursing facilities. Healthcare workers should change gloves after attending to each resident, whenever a surface needs to be cleaned and sterilized, and after dealing with dirty laundry.

A good rule of thumb to help your staff remember is to think of their various tasks in stages. For example, when working with food, kitchen workers should change gloves after handling certain products like raw meat. Laundry workers should change gloves after touching soiled laundry and before handling/transferring clean laundry. Further, to enhance sanitation, gloves should be used when folding clean laundry to help ensure that germs aren’t transferred from a staff member to a resident’s clean clothing.

2. Hand Washing

It may seem like a no-brainer, but proper hand washing and using hand sanitizer regularly are essential elements of hygiene in nursing. It should be an easy task to get full staff compliance, but everyone in a skilled nursing facility is busy. That 30 seconds for a thorough hand-washing can seem like an hour when patients are waiting. And yet, rushing around in unsanitary conditions can lead to far worse outcomes and far more need for attention when there’s a norovirus outbreak or the flu devastates award. Encourage your staff to run through the “Happy Birthday” song three times in their heads.

3. Face Masks

Face masks help contain bacteria and prevent the spread of illness throughout your nursing facilityLike gloves, face masks are another excellent way to help prevent the spread of germs and other infectious diseases. Face masks should always be available to anyone who enters your nursing facility, from visitors to the person who delivers your packages. Viruses are spread just by breathing the same air. Masks protect not only your residents but your staff, visitors, vendors, and everyone they come in contact with after they leave your facility.

Face masks help to contain sneezing, sniffles, and overall, protect against the spread of infectious diseases. While face masks aren’t 100% effective, they still go a long way toward protecting the health of your residents and staff, as well as the environment inside of your nursing facility.

An effective mask should have several layers and a snug fit, covering the mouth and nose without gaps.

Maintaining Senior Care Facilities

In assisted living and nursing facilities, the opportunity for greater exposure to germs, bacteria, or infectious diseases is much higher than in many other environments where people live and work. Unfortunately, senior residents are more vulnerable to sickness and disease due to advanced age and medical complications. And because these residents often spend most of their time living in these nursing facilities, the likelihood of exposure is much higher.

While there are many health code standards and regulations surrounding sanitation in nursing facilities, it is important to remember that a well-trained staff is your first and best defense. A well-trained, educated, and prepared staff is vital to maintaining the health standards and quality of life for everyone living in and visiting your assisted living and nursing facilities.

The measures necessary to keep your staff and residents healthy are relatively straightforward:

  • Maintain hot water temperature standards.
  • Clean and sanitize surfaces, especially after contact with bodily fluids or waste.
  • Wear and change gloves after each task or contact, including laundry service.
  • Wear a mask.

Set as standard operating procedures, these nursing home sanitation measures will help prevent outbreaks of norovirus, influenza, colds, respiratory ailments, and other common infectious diseases. Adopting these simple procedures creates a safer environment for residents and health care workers alike while at the same time raising the quality of care at your nursing home facility.



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