Care regulator urges vigilance to prevent spread of winter bugs

Scotland’s care regulator has urged people visiting their family and loved ones in care homes to continue to be vigilant against spreading infections, especially during the winter months.

The Care Inspectorate has warned care home visitors to take precautions in order to prevent the spread of infections and bugs during the winter – including infections such as norovirus that can be present in the community and can spread rapidly between residents, visitors and staff in care homes.

Margaret Tannahill, the Care Inspectorate’s Consultant Nurse for Infection Control, said: “During the winter months, the spread of certain infections and diseases such as norovirus can be a big challenge for those in care homes where many people are vulnerable to infection and this can also apply to visitors such as older people or young children.

“If you are visiting a family member or loved one in a care home, it’s vital that you remember that your actions can have a dramatic effect on their health and that of others if you do not take the necessary precautions.”

The Care Inspectorate is promoting a list of the most important tips to remember when visiting a care home. These include:-

Clean hands - Making sure your hands are clean is one of the most important ways to stop infections spreading. Wash your hands regularly with soap and water, especially after going to the toilet. Everyone, including residents who have been on outings, should use the hand hygiene facilities in the care home on entering and leaving.

Don’t visit when unwell - Don’t visit a resident in a care home if you are feeling unwell or have an infection such as flu or a heavy cold, or if you or a member of your household are suffering from diarrhoea or vomiting. If you aren’t well enough to visit then you are welcome to phone the care home and leave a message or ask for your relative or friend to phone you. If you have vomiting or diarrhoea you should not visit a resident in a care home or patient in a hospital until 48 hours after your symptoms have stopped.

Speak to the care team if you have any concerns - You should talk to the person in charge if you have any concerns about hygiene in the care home or if you are worried or unsure about any infection prevention issues.