Caregivers: How to Prevent Infection at Home
- Caregivers and Family
We hear it all the time. We see it posted in big, bold letters on signs in public spaces, and we remind our kids or grandkids to do it at least 10 times a day.
Wash your hands.
Good hand hygiene is the best way to prevent the spread of germs. You probably have a supply of antibacterial soap at home and at work, and you may even carry a vial of hand sanitizer or disinfectant wipes in your car or purse.
Taking the necessary precautions to keep germs away is even more important when you’re caring for a seriously ill loved one. Their immune systems are already compromised, making them especially vulnerable to viruses like the common cold or flu, not to mention dangerous infections like MRSA, also known as staph.
Your top priority is keeping your loved one as comfortable as possible, so the last thing you would ever want to do is make their condition worse. Keeping your hands clean is just the beginning. Here are 10 tips to make sure your home is as healthy as it can be.
- Wash your hands
- Before and after you come in physical contact with your loved one, or items they may touch
- Before and after giving your loved one a bath
- After coming home from public places
- Before and after preparing food
- Use safe cooking practices to prevent food-borne illnesses like salmonella
- Don’t put items that have been outside the home, such as purses or shopping bags, onto kitchen counters or other areas where you prepare food; and also make sure to clean and disinfect commonly used surfaces daily
- Change home air filters routinely as directed (usually every 3 months), using allergen- and dust-reducing filters
- Wash linens regularly, or immediately when soiled
- Wear disposable gloves:
- When giving medication (oral, rectal, injections)
- When changing catheters or wound dressings
- When cleaning up fluids such as urine or diarrhea
- Sterilize all medical equipment
- Never share personal items like razors, nail clippers, hairbrushes or towels
- Clean and bandage all of your loved one’s cuts and scratches. Minor wounds are at higher risk for infection because of their already weakened immune system
- Both you and your loved one should get a flu shot, as well as immunizations against infectious diseases like pneumonia and shingles
- Make sure pets are kept clean and up to date on vaccines and flea/tick treatments
You can never be too careful when protecting the health of those you love. Our care teams are available 24/7 if you have any questions about patient safety and preventing infection. Call us at 800-264-0521.