INFECTION CONTROL SERVICE
Infection control sits at the heart of hygiene
Our Infection Control Service is a specialist cleaning and disinfection package aimed at successfully reducing the risk of infections, providing protection against MRSA, Swine Flu, C. difficile and Norovirus.
Infections are one of the biggest challenges facing health services throughout the world. ‘Health care-acquired infections’ (HCAI), which patients or clients develop while receiving care from health services, pose a particular problem. But infection control is vital in other organisations too, such as the veterinary, pharmacy, hospitality, social care and education sectors.
In the period 2014-18, Public Health England (PHE) figures showed a clear trend in increasing winter flu infections, especially in care homes. And in schools, one consideration is transmission of childhood diseases, with a resurgence of measles in certain populations where vaccination has been controversial.
Thorough cleaning is key for infection control
Proper cleaning and hygiene practices are vital in helping to prevent the spread of such infections. But an infection control culture has to be an open and collaborative one. It’s vital that there’s open and honest communication among cleaning staff and between cleaning teams and other staff. That’s where React Specialist Cleaning and our Infection Control Service come into play. We can work to ensure that a proper schedule is maintained – and that facilities are able to prevent infections.
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All our staff are medically fit and fully immunised.
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NOROVIRUS: The winter vomiting bug
Norovirus is often known as the ‘winter vomiting bug’. This is because it usually spreads during the winter months, but it can occur throughout the year. It’s the most common gastrointestinal infection in the UK, affecting between 600,000 and a million people a year. The main symptoms of norovirus are nausea, diarrhoea and vomiting. An infected person may also have a high temperature of 38C or above, a headache, and aching arms and legs.
Norovirus can spread very easily from close contact with someone infected, and it can survive on surfaces or objects for many days, so can pass on through touch. The symptoms appear one to two days after becoming infected and typically last for up to two or three days. As with many viruses, there is no specific treatment apart from letting the illness run its course. Most people don’t usually need medical attention, unless symptoms don’t improve or more serious problems develop. In particular, there is the risk of dehydration among the elderly or people with other illnesses.
Infection control is for life, not just for winter
Online advice recommends anyone who has had symptoms associated with Norovirus stay off work or school for 2 days after the symptoms have stopped, as that’s when they're most infectious. In hospitals, patients are usually isolated for up to three days after symptoms have cleared.
There are some clear steps that any employer can take to limit the risks associated with Norovirus spreading:
Encourage workers to practice good hand hygiene, by washing with hot water and soap (alcohol hand gels do not kill Norovirus).
Guarantee availability of washrooms and handwashing supplies.
Perform routine workplace housekeeping.
Ensure that surfaces where Norovirus may linger are cleaned and disinfected.
Promote a general culture of safety, including not reporting to work if sick.
Eliminating Norovirus through infection control
Cleaning and disinfecting is obviously where React can shine. Our Infection Control Service focuses specifically on ensuring that all surfaces are thoroughly disinfected. We follow our own advice too, and ensure that all our workers are fit and well when they attend each and every cleaning assignment.
Our janitorial and deep cleaning services provide regular cleaning of common areas such as corridors and washrooms too. We have a crystal-clear approach to limiting the spread of Norovirus: we aim to eliminate the virus from surfaces.
MRSA, a superbug with serious consequences
Methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), is often called a ‘superbug’. It's tougher to treat than most strains of staphylococcus aureus (‘staph’) because it's resistant to some commonly used antibiotics. What’s more, MRSA can survive on some surfaces, like towels, razors, furniture, and athletic equipment for hours, days, or even weeks. It can spread to people who touch a contaminated surface, and MRSA can cause infections if it gets into a cut, scrape, or open wound. That’s why it’s a particular problem in healthcare settings, especially for patients who have had surgery. Indeed, it can develop into a very severe, life-threatening infection.
Good health and safety practice limits MRSA risk
Employers and supervisors can take a number of steps to prevent the spread of staph or MRSA in the workplace:
Promote a culture of safety (including advice around covering wounds).
Ensure the availability of personal protective equipment and first aid supplies.
Encourage workers to practice good hand hygiene.
Ensure the performance of routine workplace housekeeping.
Ensure the availability of washrooms and hand washing supplies.
Ensure that surfaces contaminated with MRSA drainage or blood are cleaned and disinfected.
Cleaning protocols that focus on MRSA
It’s in these last three areas of health and safety where React Specialist Cleaning can help. Our janitorial and deep cleaning services provide regular cleaning of common areas such as corridors and washrooms. But our Infection Control Service focuses more specifically on ensuring that all surfaces are cleaned and disinfected. In healthcare settings, we pay particular attention to surgical areas such as operating theatres and post-operative care facilities. We use appropriately diluted products which are effective but safe, and follow strict infection control protocols to ensure complete disinfection. Our approach to limiting the spread of MRSA is simple: we aim to eliminate the bacteria from surfaces altogether.
SWINE FLU / H1N1
It’s common parlance to refer to a heavy cold as ‘flu’, because many of the symptoms are similar. But influenza, or flu for short, is a much more serious condition. Take for instance swine flu, a strain known as H1N1. The virus was first identified in Mexico in April 2009. It became known as swine flu because it's similar to flu viruses that affect pigs. It spread rapidly from country to country because it was a new type of flu virus that few young people were immune to. In the event in the UK, a small number of cases led to serious illness or death, mostly in children and young adults with underlying health problems and in pregnant women.
Of course, it’s possible to be vaccinated against flu; many people receive a free flu jab on the NHS. Swine flu is one of the main strains of the virus against which the 2019-20 vaccine protects. However, this process tends to be backward-looking. The influenza virus is adaptive, highly infectious and can mutate rapidly to overwhelm immune systems and become pandemic. Therefore, it’s important to take other steps to prevent the spread of a potentially serious infectious disease.
Keeping infections under control
Online advice from the NHS about swine flu focuses on self-treatment. It’s worth remembering that antibiotics are not effective in treating flu as it’s caused by a virus not bacteria. It’s also worth noting that anyone who is eligible for a free flu jab, generally people with an underlying health condition, should be encouraged to take it up. Generally, it’s most effective to get the vaccine before the start of the main December-March flu season. But as the disease is most serious in people with underlying health conditions, it’s particularly important to minimise its spread in health and other care settings.
Infection control moves beyond superficial cleaning
The React Infection Control Service goes beyond superficial cleaning to eradicate the swine flu virus wherever it may linger. We follow strict infection control protocols to ensure complete disinfection. We ensure that all surfaces where the flu virus can survive are cleaned and disinfected. Quite simply, we aim to eliminate the swine flu virus wherever we work – and we protect our workers and our clients as we do so.
Clostridium difficile / C.DIFF
C. Diff is a stomach bug that can spread easily to others. It’s an infection which most commonly affects people recently treated with antibiotics. Therefore, it’s a particular problem in healthcare and social care settings and is often categorised as a hospital-acquired infection.
The bacteria are found in the digestive system of about 1 in every 30 healthy adults. Some antibiotics taken to treat other infections can interfere with the balance of bacteria in the bowel. This can cause the C. diff bacteria to multiply and produce toxins that make the person ill. Its symptoms include diarrhoea, nausea, stomach cramps, loss of appetite and fever. In severe cases, it can cause more serious damage to the bowel.
Once out of the body, the bacteria turn into resistant cells called spores. Unless they're thoroughly cleaned, these spores can survive for long periods on hands, surfaces (such as toilets), objects and clothing. And that’s when they can transfer to someone else and infect them.
Keeping infections under control
There is very specific advice from the NHS about C. Diff and the importance of tackling it in healthcare settings. Online advice recommends anyone who has been infected with C. Diff stays at home until at least 48 hours after their symptoms have cleared up, as that’s when they're most infectious. In hospitals, patients may be isolated.
Infection control moves beyond superficial cleaning
Tackling bacteria such as C. Diff requires an approach to cleaning that goes beyond superficial cleaning. The React Infection Control Service focuses specifically on ensuring that all surfaces are cleaned and disinfected. We use appropriately diluted products which are effective but safe; generally, hypochlorite-based solutions are best for tackling C. Diff.
We follow strict infection control protocols to ensure complete disinfection. In healthcare settings where C. Diff may be found more frequently, we focus our infection control efforts on surgical areas such as operating theatres and post-operative care facilities.
We always encourage clients to make sure they have a good approach to hygiene. This includes making sure that employees don’t come to work if they’re sick, or that patients and service users report if they become ill. We follow our own advice too, and ensure that all our workers are fit and well when they attend each and every cleaning assignment. Quite simply, we control infections and eliminate pathogens wherever we work.