Infection Prevention and Control
At St. Anne Centre, preventing and controlling the spread of infections is an important part of safety. Residents are at increased risk of getting infections by virtue of their age, immune status and other multiple health problems. Prevention is best because an infection causes illness that can affect the quality of life for residents and may also spread to others causing an outbreak.
We believe that Infection Prevention and Control is everyone’s responsibility therefore, we gather input from residents/families/staff and volunteers when making policies and procedures and planning for educational opportunities.
We seek out advice from experts about best practices to prevent and control infections that may arise in the course of providing care for the residents. We consult and collaborate with external partners such as Infection Prevention and Control Nova Scotia, the Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness and the Infection Prevention and Control Canada on infection control matters.
Hand hygiene which includes hand washing and hand sanitizing is always kept front and center as it alone, is the most effective way to prevent the spread of communicable diseases. Many infections can be spread by hands. Staff whose hands are contaminated with germs can pass them to a resident or patient directly or indirectly by contact with a contaminated piece of equipment or other surfaces in the environment. The Influenza virus can live on a surface for several hours which is why cleaning and disinfection provided by Housekeeping Services is crucial.
Vaccination is another primary way of preventing some infections. Residents are offered influenza and pneumococcal vaccinations. We strongly recommend that all health care providers receive yearly influenza vaccination and we offer in house vaccination clinics to facilitate this process. The higher percentage of residents/staff/volunteers and family members that are vaccinated for Influenza, the more protected the residents are. It’s less likely that an outbreak will occur, which requires closure of the facility or restriction of activities, etc.
We ask that any one that is ill, be it staff, volunteers and/or visitors stay away from the home until their symptoms have been resolved for at least 48 hours. If this is not observed, then they run the risk of spreading their infection to others. There are signs at the entrance to remind you of this.
Many residents receive food brought in by family members. This provides variety and an opportunity for them to enjoy their cultural foods. Food can cause gastrointestinal illness (e.g. salmonella) if it is not prepared/cooked and stored correctly. Please make sure that proper food handling practices are followed.
Respiratory etiquette is a relatively new term that refers to steps one can take to avoid spreading germs after coughing and/or sneezing. When you cough or sneeze, droplets that may contain germs such as the influenza virus can be spread to others. The new thinking is that it is best to cover your cough or sneeze by using your sleeve. This way the germs get trapped in your sleeve and are less likely to infect another person.
Lately, there is much talk about infections like MRSA and C. difficile which can cause serious illness and in some cases, fatality. The misuse and/or overuse of antibiotics are the reason for these infections developing. At St. Anne Centre, we have policies, procedures and education in place for staff to help prevent and/or manage a resident with these infections. Staff and family members who provide direct care are instructed how to put on and take off personal protective equipment which will reduce the risk of them acquiring one of these infections.
St. Anne Centre has a Pandemic Plan to ensure that all staff have the knowledge, skills and resources to respond to resident care needs as best as possible with expected staff shortages should this occur.
Our nursing home monitors infections and we take note of changes that are out of the norm. Tracking the rate of infections in the homes can help us to detect clusters of ill residents, detect outbreaks and gives a picture of the effectiveness of our infection prevention and control practices. An analysis of infection rates sometimes leads to a change in practice with the goal of reducing the number of infections. We maintain an infection control bulletin board to keep residents, families, visitors and staff informed on important information.