Yesterday we looked at some methods to break the chain of infection. Today we continue that discussion.
Get a pneumonia vaccination and a yearly flu vaccination. A tetanus shot every ten years is also recommended. Always complete antibiotic therapy unless instructed otherwise by your parent’s health care provider.
For someone with a productive cough, have them spit the mucus into a tissue and have a receptacle nearby for disposal. For a dry cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and nose with the bend of your arm, rather than your hand.
Good oral care is extremely important in the prevention of respiratory infections. Studies have found that people who get aspiration pneumonia are more likely to get it from inhaled saliva than from inhaled food. Your mouth meets all of the first 5 links in the chain of infection especially if there is plaque build-up. It is warm, dark and moist in there, a germs idea of paradise!
Unfortunately, mouth care is the most neglected area for those who cannot do it themselves. If the person is not able to brush their own teeth, using toothettes, lemon-glycerin swabs and finger toothbrushes are easy to use. Mouth care is so important that I have written a whole article on it here.
If you are providing care for a parent who has had a heart valve replacement they may need antibiotic therapy started before a procedure or dental treatment is done. Be sure to ask their physician or dentist.
If your parent has tubes of any kind, follow your health care provider’s instructions on cleaning and care. Care of IV’s, PICC lines, tracheotomy tubes, and other invasive devices are beyond the scope of this blog. Please consult a health care professional for instruction and advice on caring for them.
Urinary catheters are a major source of urinary tract infections. Avoid them if possible. If an indwelling catheter is in place you can reduce the risk of infection by daily cleaning with soap and water, avoid over manipulation of the tubing, keep the bag below the level of the bladder or clamp the tubing if the bag must be raised such as for turning. It is better to use a closed system where the bag stays attached to the catheter as opposed to switching to a leg bag during the day. Adequate hydration will help keep the bladder flushed. (If an elderly person starts becoming confused, weaker, or falls, check for a urinary tract infection).
Gastric feeding tube sites should be cleaned daily with soap and water. Avoid over manipulation as it may irritate the gastric lining.
While the incidence of homecare personnel bringing infection into your home is low, here are some insider tips to lower the risk:
Show them where they can wash their hands as soon as they arrive.
Ask to be one of the first patients they see that day. However, if your loved one has an infection, they should be seen later in the day to lower the risk of spreading it to other home bound patients.
If they sound like they are sick or have sick children, ask them to reschedule or send someone else.
Only in the last few years has the tracking of homecare acquired infections begun. In the home setting the patient may have an increase in host factors such as chronic illness, immunosuppression, advanced age. The goal is still to protect the patient.
What happens when you fail to break the chain and infection occurs? That will be the subject of tomorrow’s post.