Hygiene Problem in Nursing Homes
Proper hygiene is paramount for success in any nursing home in the country. Serious problems can develop when nursing homes do not meet the required hygiene standards that are set by the nursing practice or the government. When bacteria and germs spread in the nursing home, residents who are vulnerable can be negatively affected. The problems of poor hygiene practices in a nursing home are compounded by the fact that most of the residents of these facilities always have underlying health problems. The government must ensure that nursing homes are kept in a hygienic manner to prevent that the elderly individuals in these residents do not get diseases.
Nursing homes should be kept in a hygienic manner since they are residents for people older in age who normally have a weak immune system. In an effort to ensure that these homes are safe and hygienic, the State Department of Health has engaged in intensive programs that involve making contact with administrators in nursing homes for the purpose of advising them on how to improve their facilities and services. While the impact and results of these programs in the nursing homes department cannot be assumed, the desired results for meeting the minimum sanitary and hygiene standards have not yet been obtained. This problem is due to the fact that programs are only educational and advisory in nature. Moreover, there is no any enforcement procedures that compel individuals to adhere to these programs. The U.S. Department of health reports that hygienic infections are the leading causes of death in long-term care patients. The department estimates that an average of 1.5 to 2 million infections occurs in nursing homes every year as a result of poor hygiene conditions. These infections occur despite the fact that risks of bacterial and infectious diseases such as influenza and cold, which are common among patients in nursing homes, can be significantly reduced through proper hygienic practices. As a result, an estimated figure of $1.5 billion is spent each year on medical costs of such infections. In addition, several lawsuits have been filed against nursing homes for neglect of proper hygiene.
Currently, poor hygiene in nursing home facilities takes many forms. The problem does not concern residents care alone, but the overall care of the whole facility. In some instances, bathrooms and showers are not cleaned and sanitized appropriately and on a regular basis. This situation results in the transmission of bacteria and germs in the nursing facilities. Similarly, some food preparation and serving areas are not sanitized properly. Moreover, little caution is taken in handling foods consumed by the residents, which further jeopardizes the situation. In most cases, the kitchen staff is not dressed in the proper attire that can prevent germs and bacteria from spreading. Living room and common areas are normally not cleaned appropriately. As a result, they are a frequent source of infections. Other forms of poor hygiene practices result from poor disposal of wastes. Most nursing homes’ do not have appropriate facilities for biological and medical wastes disposal. Finally, most homes do not provide residents with the necessary services for personal hygiene such as bathing and brushing teeth.
Concerning the significance of the problem of hygiene standards in nursing homes to me, I would begin by stating that, it is the moral responsibility of the society to take care of the elderly in an appropriate way. Neglecting such elderly people in conditions of poor hygiene is an indicator of moral decay. In addition, I have a number of relatives who are currently receiving care in different nursing homes, including my aged grandparents. Considering that in due time I will also age, the problem at hand couldn’t be of greater personal significance. Moreover, the number of aging people is rapidly increasing in the country and in the society. A large segment of the population is currently receiving care in nursing homes which make the problem a public one. Therefore, I have a direct moral obligation to ensure that, as an individual practicing nursing, the medical care needs of the aged are well taken care of.
It is important to consider solutions to the current nursing homes problem. However, so as to implement a program for proper hygiene, the existing problems must be identified first. One such problem is understaffing. For instance, if one staff member is issued with too many patients to take care of, they may ignore or neglect proper sanitation procedures such as washing of hands before handling patients. This problem of understaffing is prevalent across all nursing homes in the country. Therefore, the government needs to address the issue through increased hiring of professional staff. Overall increase in the workload increases the risks of poor hygiene. On the contrary, proper care is given when the nursing home has adequate number of staff to take care of the elderly population that it is housing.
Moreover, nursing home administrators must make efforts to promote the appropriate hand hygiene. The single most important element of infection prevention and control program is hand hygiene. Currently, there are guidelines published on hand hygiene by the state’s health department. They outline the various practices and situations in which staff in nursing homes must ensure they clean hands before and after. However, their implementation and compliance in nursing homes remain well below 50%. Several studies conducted on the effectiveness of the hand hygiene programs have shown positive results. There is a need for hand hygiene programs to be rolled out to physical therapists, nutritionists, occupational therapists, and social workers since they have frequent contact with residents in nursing homes.
The aged and the infirm have other specific problems which must be met and resolved if a healthy environment is expected in nursing homes. One such problem, probably the greatest, concerns protection against communicable diseases. With regard to this challenge, usual standards of good construction, safe disposal of sewage and refuse, safe water, and employee cleanliness must be implemented. Nursing home administrators should effect protection against insects and rodents that transmit such diseases. Food handling techniques should be taught to employees, and food handling facilities properly maintained. Basically, a nursing home administrator must ensure they provide adequate supply of water, safe for drinking, and furnished food which is satisfactorily nutritious. The food should be prepared in surroundings and conditions equivalent to the specifications made by the Public Health Service ordinance.
Moreover, the government needs to put greater efforts in implementing the requirement standards for most nursing homes. For the past few years, there has been a neglect of this responsibility. It is the direct role of the government to ensure that residents in nursing homes are taken care of according to the minimum standards that are stipulated in the law. Additionally, the government should provide the facilities for proper hygiene and sanitation in hospitals that are under-resourced. Such facilities include washrooms, bathrooms, clean water supply and proper medications.
In conclusion, the importance of proper hygiene in nursing homes cannot be ignored. Proper hygiene lengthens the lives of the residents and the staff working there. The work of solving the problem involves various stakeholders such as the government, nursing administrators, and the staff in nursing homes must work cooperatively for successful and hygienic service delivery. Generally, the services offered by these individuals ensures that the elderly individuals in these homes do not get infectious diseases.