Using Personal Protective Equipment in Senior Care Homes
Updated: Mar 28, 2022
PPE (personal protective equipment) has always been present in certain professions. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, PPE, such as masks and face shields, is now an essential accessory. The use of PPE today is encouraged for all.
The Functions of PPE Mask
PPE, or personal protective equipment, works to prevent the transmission of communicable diseases by shielding the nose and mouth and filtering the air. PPE shields others from the wearers' exhaled air as it filters through the mask's fabric to capture diseases from entering the outside air. Inversely, it protects the wearer by filtering the outside air from any potential diseases put in the air by those who are not wearing a mask. In recent months, PPE has been used to refer to face masks and shields amid the COVID-19 pandemic. People in Japan have adopted this practice pre-COVID and pre-SARS era. This practice is part of their cultural norms to be considerate and respectful of others by not spreading germs and infecting others.
PPE in Retirement Homes
In retirement homes, the use of PPE is essential to working safely with the vulnerable population living in senior care homes. PPE is necessary for retirement homes for multiple reasons.
First, the communities are generally densely populated, with many residents being placed in a relatively small area. PPE is necessary for both residents and employees to prevent the spread of the virus as the risk of infection indoors is almost 19 times higher than in open-air environments, according to a study completed by researchers in Japan.
Secondly, the senior population is among the most vulnerable to fatal diseases due to their weakened immune system. With this in mind, PPE is important for both residents and employees to prevent the spread of disease to a demographic that could potentially be lethal.
Lastly, if an outbreak were to occur in the facility, PPE is vital because it can contain the infection. It can help contain the infection to the already infected residents and not spread the disease further. As well, PPE would protect workers and residents from potentially spreading the disease outside of the facility, stopping further spread of the disease.
Guidelines for Proper PPE Use
Proper guidelines for PPE use require masks to cover both the mouth and nose, and these masks to be changed regularly. Eye protection should be cleaned/changed when it becomes hard to see out of, and masks/gowns should be changed when interacting with different clients.
Fraser Health requires that medical staff wear "PPE surgical masks and eye protection as continually as possible throughout the workers' shift, and changing face masks after any breaks to ensure no risk of contamination." Gloves and gowns should be worn during personal care, and hands washed between each resident encounter. Housekeeping and other staff may be subject to different standards as their work does not directly deal with medical needs.
Ensuring Proper PPE Use
Using pulse surveys can ensure that employees and residents are satisfied with the procedures and equipment provided regarding PPE in senior care homes. Pulse surveys are scheduled to audit frequently, which will ensure that employee PPE use remains consistently at satisfactory levels. Employees and residents can both be surveyed to ensure proper precautions are being taken and that all parties involved feel safe with the home's current level of protection.
Download our Symptom Checker and Health and Safety Audit template.
Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 in Your Workplace Through Symptom Checking and Safety Audits
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