In my 5 years of working in LTC, I don’t think I’ve come across one word that EVERYONE dreads more than this one: Outbreak.
Whether it’s vomit, diarrhea, sneezing, coughing, shingles or a combination, no PSW likes to walk into work only to hear that dreaded word. This automatically means has-mat suits & resident’s kept in isolation. You need to wear a disposable gown, a mask, gloves and sometimes eye protection just to perform ordinary tasks. It’s annoying. It’s a lot of work & it’s not pleasant for everyone involved.
This year has been nasty, specifically the last month. Which is odd, because flu season normally occurs from about October through to January. So when I walked into work in the middle of March to find out that we were on outbreak precautions I was a little surprised.
Illness spreads like wild fire in a LTC home. Our resident’s are older, their immune systems are older and they’re generally ill in other ways which doesn’t leave them with much energy to fight anything off. And then of course there’s us: PSWs. The ones who care for these people and through no fault of our own bring these germs with us where ever we go.
May 5th is World Hand Hygiene Day as declared by WHO (The World Health Organization). I’m really hoping that none of us need reminders on why or how we should be performing proper hand washing, but those of us who like the reminder, here are a few tips curtosy of Public Health Ontario.