In the United States, more than eight million people receive long-term care. More than three and a half million of those individuals are living in long-term care facilities (LTCF) including nursing homes, hospices, residential care communities and adult day service centers. The total number of individuals receiving long-term care services of some kind is anticipated to reach a massive 27 million people by 2050, largely due to the growing population of elderly people.
As the long-term care market continues to grow, it continues to receive public attention. From long-term care quality, to affordability, safety and infection control—the public has brought several long-term care related issues into the spotlight. Like any facility with large numbers of people in close proximity, long-term care facilities are combatting the spread of harmful infections—many of which are resistant to leading antibiotics.
According to the CDC, one to three million infections occur in long-term care facilities each year, resulting in 380,000 deaths. Due to lack of accurate reporting data, the actual scope of infections is likely to be much more severe. The National Health Safety Network proactively surveys infection occurrence and provides resources to assist long-term care facilities in the fight. However, only a small portion of nursing homes in the U.S. are enrolled, making it challenging to gain an accurate view of infections transmitted in the long-term care environment.
There are a variety of factors that make long-term care facilities more susceptible to infections than others. They include:
1. Prevalence of Antibiotics: In nursing homes, antibiotics are commonly prescribed. In fact, the majority of residents, approximately 70 percent, receive some form of antibiotic treatment. Frequent or extended use of antibiotics increases vulnerability to infections like C. diff, and risks contributing to the phenomenon of bacterial resistance.
2. Vulnerability of Residents: Second, long-term care residents are often elderly or have compromised immune systems. As a result, they are more vulnerable to infection-causing bacteria that might otherwise be fought off by a healthy individual.
3. Close Proximity: Third, long-term care facilities house multiple residents in close proximity, facilitating the spread of infections from one individual to the next. As the number of individuals in need of long-term care increases, many nursing homes are running at capacity.
4. Extended Stays: Finally, long-term care facilities are different than traditional hospitals in that residence is permanent. As a result, there is no forced opportunity for disinfection as there is in a hospital that regularly turns over rooms from one patient to the next. Long-term care facilities must instead rely on room rotations or out-of-room activities in order to properly evacuate rooms and disinfect their facilities at regular intervals.
Two of the most prominent environmentally caused infections, C. diff and norovirus, are severe threats to long-term care facility residents and staff. According to the CDC, more than 100,000 residents contract C. diff in nursing homes each year. Alarmingly, nursing homes also have the unwelcome distinction of higher-than-average death rates from norovirus—more than any other environment. Both C.diff and norovirus can be combatted through a rigorous combination of hand-hygiene and whole room disinfection.
For long-term care facilities, whole room disinfection is an integral aspect of enhancing quality and safety for residents, visitors and staff alike. In many ways, long-term care facilities can find solace in the incremental progress that hospitals have achieved in reducing HAI rates—progress that is largely attributable to whole room disinfection systems.
The Halo Disinfection System® provides a comprehensive whole room disinfection solution for the diverse needs of long-term care and healthcare environments. With an EPA-validated 6-log kill rate against dangerous C. diff spores, the Halo Disinfection System delivers the highest possible efficacy on the market, paired with outstanding affordability and ease of use.
Is your long-term care facility searching for a whole room disinfection solution? Contact Halosil today to learn why our system is the right choice for keeping your residents safe.