The total number of COVID-19 cases across the nation as of 22nd of July was 12,896, with deaths rising to 128. This includes 43 residents of aged care facilities. About 45 aged care centers in Victoria have now reported cases of coronavirus, with the sector having around 383 positive cases, staff included. The largest number of cases was recorded in St Basil’s Home for the Aged located in Fawkner as well as Estia Health located in Ardeer with 73 and 67, respectively.

Although these COVID-19 outbreaks were not comparable with what is being reported internationally, the nation is worried about the increasing case numbers within aged-care facilities in Victoria. However, it is here, and the next action is to prevent the virus from spreading in Victoria and the nation at large. This can be achieved with efforts from the entire community. Following, CDC guidelines, maintain a good health, cleaning, and much more.

How to put an End to the Spread of COVID in Aged Care Homes

Restricting the effective control and prevention of the infection can make it spread. There is a need to take proactive measures to protect the health or the people in aged care homes and keep the care providers based on the guidelines discussed below:

Stopping COVID-19 Spread in Aged Care from Visitors

  1. Perform hand hygiene

Performing hand hygiene is the most vital thing visitors must do. Washing of visible hands with soap and water should be done. Performing of hand hygiene for a minimum of 20-secs with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 75% of isopropyl alcohol or 80% ethanol to cover the entire surfaces of your hands and continuously rubbing them until they dry. Putting on gloves is not enough to substitute for hand hygiene. Hand hygiene should be done before and after putting off gloves. Hand hygiene should be done before:

  • You prepare food
  • You touch or eat food or put anything in your mouths such as medication or food.
  • You wear gloves
  • You touch mouth, nose, or eyes
  • You touch a dressing
  • You put on a face mask
  • You touch and or provide regular care for someone else who requires help

Hand hygiene should be done after:

  • You visit the bathroom/toilet
  • You sneeze, cough, or get rid of tissues
  • You touch a dressing
  • You line dirty clothes or linen with your hands
  • You feed or serve medication
  • You remove gloves
  • You remove the face mask
  • You provide regular care for someone who requires help

  1. Encourage Visitors to perform Respiratory/Cough Etiquette

Visitors should use tissue on their nose and mouth when coughing, wiping, sneezing, or blowing the nose. It is very important to dispose of the tissue into the trash can, and then perform hand hygiene using soap and water or an alcohol-based sanitizer. In the absence of tissue, do not cough or sneeze into the hand but the elbow.

  1. If Visitors are sick

Place restrictions on those who are unwell from visiting residents in aged care facilities, such as those having a cold, fever, or have diarrhea. This will go a long way in spreading the virus to others.

  1. Advice on how Visitors should handle Linen

Linens include napkins, towels, blankets, bags, men, and women’s wear. Visitors to the facility must wash their hands instantly after handling linens. Avoid shaking dirty linen to reduce the possibility of sending germs or allergens through the air.

Responsibility of Care-Providers to mitigate the Spread of COVID

  1. Hand hygiene

Hand hygiene is the most important thing to do. Make use of soap and water to wash visibly dirty hands. Care-providers should make use of hand cream more often, such as before break and when not on duties to prevent dry and cracking skin. Performing of hand hygiene for a minimum of 20-secs with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 75% of isopropyl alcohol or 80 % ethanol to cover the entire surfaces of your hands and continuously rubbing them until they dry. Putting on gloves is not enough to substitute for hand hygiene. Hand hygiene should be done before and after putting off gloves. Hand hygiene should be done before:

  • You touch or eat food or put anything in your mouths such as medication or food
  • You prepare food
  • You touch mouth, nose, or eyes
  • You touch a dressing
  • You touch or provide regular care for someone else who requires help
  • You wear gloves
  • You put on a face mask

Hand hygiene should be done after:

  • You visit the bathroom/toilet
  • You sneeze, cough, or get rid of tissues
  • You touch a dressing
  • You line dirty clothes or linen with your hands
  • You feed or serve medication
  • You provide regular care for someone who requires help
  • You remove gloves
  • You remove the face mask

  1. Screening and Restrictions

The following screening and restrictions will help in preventing others:

  • Place restriction on non-essential visitations
  • Check background or history of visitors and care providers
  • Check body temperature and discovery of respiratory symptoms of visitors
  • Check body temperature and the discovery of respiratory symptoms of care-providers every day.
  • Normally, care-givers and visitors should remove and reduce their jewelry
  • They should not wear acrylic nails, gel, or false fingernails.
  1. Social Distancing

Social distancing involves keeping away from public settings and mass gatherings. Normally, keep 3 feet between people. If possible, maintain one person per 2 seats.

  1. Respiratory/Cough Etiquette

Keep a plastic bag or trash can closer to each resident for easy disposal of used tissues. Use a tissue to cover nose and mouth when coughing, sneezing, wiping, or blowing the nose. Dispose of used tissue into the trash can and immediately wash hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Sneeze, or Cough into your elbow rather than your hands if you don’t have a tissue.

  1. Maintain Good Air Circulation

Allow for more ventilation by opening doors and windows. Be sure that there is good airflow in aged-care homes. This is essential and should be maintained at all times.

  1. Surgical Masks

Care workers protect their nose and mouth from being exposed to infectious agents using a surgical mask. However, remember to always:

  • Avoid touching the front of the mask with hands once it is in place.
  • Avoid using mast for a long period of time once moist or dirty
  • Prevent mask from dangling on your neck
  • Dispose of mask after use and perform proper hand hygiene immediately
  • Wearing of the surgical mask should be mandated for symptomatic residents
  1. Handling of Food

Hand hygiene should be done both before handling food and wearing gloves. Stay away from buffet-style of serving food, or via communal dining, rather, meals are to be prepared and served individually.

  • Only the designated persons should plate the food, and only one person should handle serving implements.
  • Wear gloves or use the waterproof dressing to cover sores, cuts, or injuries before handling food.
  • Use different kitchen utensils and chopping boards for cooked or raw foods or wash the singularly available board with soap and warm water.
  • Avoid touching food after touching surfaces, body parts, earrings, mucus, blood, skin lesions, money, and sweat without observing proper hand hygiene.
  • Cover your hair and tie back long ones.
  • Avoid putting on jewelry when preparing or serving food
  • Do not sneeze, cough, or blow on uncovered food or surfaces that the food or medication may come in contact with.
  1. Linen and Laundry Handling 
  • If possible, put on gloves when working with linen and laundry
  • Proper hand hygiene should be done after working with linen and laundry
  • Bring laundry basket beside the bed and put linen straight into it
  • Clothes or bedding that have stool, blood, or body fluids on them should be removed and washed immediately.
  • Avoid shaking dirty laundry to reduce the risk of sending any germs into the atmosphere.
  • If feasible, make use of the warmest reasonable water setting.
  • Properly dry items before storing.
  • Clothes hampers should be cleaned and disinfected based on the guidance provided above

  1. Cleaning and Disinfection

COVID Cleaning and disinfection are required and recommended for every homes or public places like aged cares, schools, offices to kill any possible virus that may be growing on every surface of the building or facility. Cleaning involves getting rid of dirt, germs, and impurities from surfaces. Cleaning alone cannot eliminate germs, but removing them reduces their number, as well as the risk of them spreading. Disinfection involves the use of chemicals to eliminate germs on surfaces. Although the disinfection doesn’t need to clean dirty surfaces or perform germ removal, it, however, kills germs on a surface immediately after cleaning, and can also reduce the risk of spread of the infection. Regularly clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces such as doorknobs, hard-backed chairs, remotes, tables, phones, handles, sinks, toilets, and light switches.

How Aged Care should be cleaned and disinfect during COVID 

The aged care industry is understandably worried about the risk of COVID-19 through contaminated surfaces. It was discovered by the current date that the virus could live on contaminated surfaces but not sure how long. Everything I’ve read on this particular topic has solely been written by companies that supply aged care homes and hospitals cleaning products. They concluded that:

  • The use of a compatible clinical-grade disinfectant and wipe should be effective enough to clean and disinfect a surface.
  • That proper hand hygiene using alcohol-based hand sanitizer should be performed after touching any possibly contaminated surface.

They conclude that if your cleaning workers stick to these rules that the surfaces at your location will be clean and safe. The major problem with this though is the assumption that cleaners have enough time to disinfect surfaces in each room deeply daily.

Aged-care workers understand that cleaning in the average room is time-demanding daily and that deep clean is often done once in a month for each room and can even be done better by professionals. Then the cleaners also have to worry about cleaning the entry and exit ways, as well as infected rooms. Note this:

The process of cleaning and disinfection are not the same:

  • Cleaning implies the removal of dirt, germs, and organic particles from surfaces physically.
  • Disinfection involves the use of chemicals to eliminate germs on surfaces.

Cleaning before disinfecting is highly recommended as organic particles and dirt can render disinfectants less-effective against germs. Combining cleaning and disinfection will be very effective in getting rid of the COVID-19 virus in aged cares and any other homes.

The soil load covering the surfaces will also be reduced by cleaning, which allows the disinfectant to penetrate and kill the COVID-19 virus. The disinfectant might not be able to eliminate the virus if the surface was not initially cleaned with a detergent. For regular cleaning, you only need disinfectants if there is contamination with the possible infectious items. In this case, when and how frequently am aged care should be disinfected alongside normal cleaning will be based on the possibility of the presence of contaminated items at the site. Professional cleaners are equipped with the knowledge of how to handle cleaning and disinfection of spaces like age care home or facilities.

Hiring the Right Cleaning Service for COVID Deep Cleaning

A professional cleaning service makes sure that you and your loved ones live in a safe, healthy, and tidy home. For instance, disinfection should be done more often in an environment that is always busy with many people entering and exiting the age care daily to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

With Clean House Melbourne, one can get average housekeeping as well as Age Care COVID deep cleaning and disinfection, based on your needs. Changing linens, laundry, vacuuming, and surface cleaning in areas like kitchen counters, bathroom surfaces, and tables are all examples of light housekeeping included in our Age Care COVID disinfection.

For over the last 14 months now, Clean House Melbourne has been performing trials with various approaches to finish the room’s disinfection, not knowing there will be outbreak of coronavirus. Even though we often practice hand hygiene and use the appropriate disinfectant for an effective job, we have also included the use of dry hydrogen peroxide decontamination system in our disinfection techniques. Contact us today!

Frequently Asked Questions

Are my parent’s safe in aged care facilities?

We believe they should be safe because many good people are putting in their best, even in tough situations. Aged caregivers are by law and Aged Care Charter of Rights responsible for ensuring the safety of their residents. A federal regulator known as the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission (ACQSC) monitors the providers, investigates complaints, and performs spot checks of care homes.

Would going to an aged care home now a wise move?

If you are still in temporary care, you can still put it off as believed by some advocates. I don’t think going into aged care now is a good move. Endeavor to obtain a top-notch home care package, according to Lynda Saltarelli from advocacy group Aged Care Crisis. She also said the Aged Care Royal Commission and a few recent inquiries had reported the increasing casualties of the aged care workers as a major issue.

The majority of the transmission of COVID-19 cases in nursing homes in Victoria has been linked to employees of aged care working in many residences. However, the government is now working against the practice. Based on a survey commissioned earlier July by the Aged Care Royal Commission, it was discovered that 80% of the elderly in Australia want to stay in their own homes. Only 25% of older adults said they would love to live in an aged care home.

Can I bring my parent out of aged care homes during this crisis?

Residents are qualified to take unrestricted emergency leave until the 30th of September, with their place at their home still intact. LASA, which is the peak body, said this includes residents of aged care facilities in Victoria, tested negative for COVID-19. No specific details were given to ABC from the Government, neither Victorian nor federal government related to any restrictions on residents wanting to go out of homes in restricted areas. In a statement by the federal government, consultation should be made with the GP and family of the resident who wants to leave the aged care facility to a family home. Residents should also discuss their COVID-19 readmission policy with their provider before they may decide to leave, as stated by the Federal Health Department.

How do I clean when I move my age parent home?

Follow these steps to clean your environment:

  • Put on gloves when cleaning:Gloves should be disposed of once done with the cleaning. If you must use reusable gloves, they should only be worn once for COVID-19 cleaning and should not be reused for any other purposes or shared between aged-care workers. Use detergent and water to wash reusable gloves and allow it to dry. Immediately you remove gloves, clean your hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer.
  • Use detergent and water to clean surfaces thoroughly: Start cleaning from the cleanest to the dirtiest surface and not the other way round. This eliminates the transfer of germs from dirty surfaces to cleaner surfaces and enables you to get rid of the most quantity of germs possible physically.
  • Use disinfectants: If you must use a disinfectant, first clean the surface with detergent before applying a disinfectant or combine detergent and disinfectant. The disinfectant will not be effective against germs on unclean surfaces. Use disposable paper towels or cloth to apply disinfectants. If you use non-disposable clothes, make sure they are properly laundered before you reuse them.
  • Let the disinfectants sit: Leave disinfectant on the surface for the necessary time to eliminate the virus, as stated by the manufacturer. Leave for 10 minutes if there is no specified time.

Note: Your first COVID cleaning and disinfection is best done by a professionals. This will give you assurance that you did it right and your aged parents can feel safe in the environment. Don’t give room for any doubt. See our COVID Aged Care disinfection.

Is cleaning alone effective against COVID-19?

Ordinary cleaning doesn’t eliminate the germs (but in additional with disinfection); however, by removal, it reduces their numbers and the risk of transmitting the virus. Cleaning and disinfection may be performing on a surface that may have been contaminated with the virus through someone with or suspected to have the virus. Germs on surfaces are killed through disinfection.

How often should cleaning be performed on facilities to limit the possible spread of COVID-19?

Regular cleaning is the normal cleaning practices performed by businesses and aged care homes in order to keep their environment healthy. Frequently touched surfaces like bathroom surfaces, door handles, and handrails should be cleaned using soap and water or any other detergent at least every day when aged care centers are in use. There may be a need for more often cleaning and disinfection, depending on the frequency of use. Cleaning gets rid of impurities, such as germs from surfaces. Cleaning can only reduce the number of germs on a surface but doesn’t kill them – only disinfection does.

Is there a difference between cleaning and disinfection?

Cleaning using soap and water to rid surfaces of dirt, germs, and impurities. It limits the risk of spreading infection. Disinfection, on the other hand, kills germs on surfaces. The killing of germs on a surface after cleaning can further reduce the risk of infection spread.

Are older adults having a higher risk of being more seriously ill from COVID-19?

Older adults and those with underlying medical problems have a higher risk for severe illness for COVID-19, and in some cases, death if infected with the virus. Cancer, heart disease, diabetes, or other medical conditions that affect the immune system’s ability to tackle germs are all examples of underlying medical conditions. You, as an older adult or someone who have any of the serious health conditions, can take to limit the risk of exposure to coronavirus.

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