Infection transmission in Social Care

Communal living in residential care increases contact between people and increases the risk of infection.

The risk of infection further increases when residents have difficulties with daily living activities e.g. toileting. 

In care homes, residents and staff are the most likely sources of infectious agents.

Care workers' hands are a likely source of transmission of infectious agents to residents.


Handheld devices in Social Care

The use of handheld devices, including tablets and smartphones, has transformed clinical practice and has led to improved resident outcomes. 

However, normal use of handheld devices leads to a large amount of microbial surface contamination. 

Any germ that has found its way onto a screen is easily transferred to the next user. 

Due to COVID-19, visits to care homes have been placed on hold.

Residents are now using handheld devices to communicate with family and friends outside their care home.

In some cases this means staff and residents are sharing these devices, further increasing the risk of infection transmission.


Reducing the risk of transmission

Infection outbreak preparedness includes:

  • Identifying possible sources of infection transmission
  • Identifying ways to reduce the risk of infection transmission

With the world now facing an unprecedented situation, the need for new policies and processes has arisen. 

Care homes should be developing policies and processes to manage mobile handheld device hygiene with an objective to reducing the risk of infection transmission. 


Finding solutions and reducing risk

Some ideas you can implement:

  • Regular disinfection using isopropanol wipes at the start and end of each shift
  • Automatic reminders set on all devices to disinfect
  • Reinforcement of hand hygiene
  • Adding 'before and after using a handheld device' to the WHO 5 Moments for Hand Hygiene
  • Using strategically placed computer stations that hold hand sanitiser, disinfectant wipes and computer keyboard covers that can be removed for cleaning
  • Using antimicrobial screen protectors or cases 

No doubt more products will be developed to protect us from infection transmission risks as time goes on.

UV light is being used by Phonesoap to sanitise your phone while it charges.

Whilst we wait for other technologies, we need to continue good hand hygiene and regular disinfection of our devices.