Infection control in the home care setting is essential for reasons of safety and treatment quality. With proper infection control, the need for hospitalization is decreased and the patient’s quality of life improves. In previous decades, home care referred to the care of the elderly, but home care is now provided to patients of all ages and backgrounds.
What once involved making patients comfortable and monitoring them at home has now expanded to include invasive procedures and ventilator support, along with other care methods. As the procedures and care provided by home care officials increases, the need to provide a safe environment increases as well. By following the proper procedures, the risk for infection becomes greatly reduced.
Transmission of Infections
In order to provide infection control in the home care setting, one must understand how infections are transmitted. Infections are often transmitted through direct contact. Direct contact involves the direct physical transfer of germs from person to person by body-to-body contact or surface-to-body contact. This contact often occurs while bathing or turning a patient.
Infections are spread from indirect contact, as well. Indirect contact involves contracting an infection from hands or an object. This most often occurs while touching a patient or changing soiled clothing or soiled bedding. Other common objects that can transmit infections include phones and TV remote controls.
Droplet contact involves the spread of infection through the air by inhaling germs from a person sneezing, coughing or talking. The germs can enter the body through the nose, mouth and eyes. Infection can occur within 3 feet of a patient. Airborne transmission is similar to droplet contact; it involves inhaling very small germs. The two differ, however, because germs spread through airborne transmission can survive in the air and surrounding environment for a prolonged period of time.
The Centers for Disease Control have developed strict guidelines for hygiene when working in the home care setting. These guidelines involve frequent hand washing with soap and water, even when the hands aren’t visibly soiled. The hands should be lathered for 15 seconds, in order to achieve thorough cleansing.
The use of alcohol-based hand rubs or hand sanitizer should be limited to times when hand washing isn’t available. When using these rubs, the entire surface of the hands needs to be covered, in order to significantly reduce the spread of germs.
It’s recommended that artificial nails be avoided while working with patients, because germs often become trapped under the nails, increasing the risk for infection. Gloves can also be worn when working with patients, to reduce the risk of infection. Gloves can reduce the risk of infection by as much as 80 percent. The hands should be cleaned before and after coming into contact with a patient.
“Understanding Infection Control” https://homecaremag.com/mag/medical_understanding_infection_control/
“Infection Control in Home Care” https://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/eid/vol7no2/rhinehart.htm