2020 has been a harrowing year for care homes. Staff have sometimes struggled to cope to stop the spread of coronavirus within each home and have been left devastated by the deaths of the people in their care. The number of empty beds in homes across the UK has doubled year-on-year, partly because of the death rate and partly because people are, quite simply, reluctant to move into one.
Care home residents are particularly at risk from viruses and bacteria because they will probably have underlying health conditions as well as being frail. With reduced immune systems, they are more vulnerable to illness and disease and therefore need a greater level of protection than the majority of the population.
Risk assessments and regular water testing are vital elements in the management of legionella. If a care home fails to implement necessary controls and this results in an outbreak of legionnaires’ disease, the home can face huge fines, especially if there are fatalities.
We recommend that homes comply with healthcare standards for all healthcare premises and test annually. Regular monitoring will enable you to keep on top of standards, giving you the chance to take care of any remedial works that you need in order to comply with the Health & Safety Executive’s Approved Code of Practice (ACOP) L8.
The Health & Safety Executive’s Approved Code of Practice & Guidance (ACOP) L8 requires that care homes (as with all business and healthcare premises) “should specifically appoint a competent person or persons to take day-to-day responsibility for controlling any identified risk from legionella bacteria. It recognises that “inadequate management, lack of training and poor communication are all contributory factors in outbreaks of legionnaires’ disease. It is therefore important that the people involved in assessing risk and applying precautions are competent, trained and aware of their responsibilities.”
To accommodate this, we also run online training courses for duty holders, owners, managers or anyone responsible for legionella safety in care homes. The courses are CPD certified and based on good practice guidelines.
Hygiene and safety will continue to be an important issue for care homes in the future, and whilst the coronavirus is foremost in everyone’s minds, we must not neglect other health and safety responsibilities such as legionella management.
If you would like to discuss how we can help with legionella monitoring and management in your care home, please feel free to contact us.