Caring for people at home

Looking after those who are vulnerable to infection

There are many reasons why people become vulnerable to infection. The elderly and very young babies are obvious examples, but it’s also very important to keep your home hygienically clean to prevent the spread of germs for those who:

• Have recently been discharged from hospital
• Are immuno-compromised (including those on chemotherapy)
• Are undergoing ambulatory care
• Are suffering from an underlying illness

If someone is in your care, make sure you give him or her the best chance of staying as healthy and as comfortable as possible.

Looking after someone at home

When someone is recovering from an operation, an illness or is undergoing medical treatment, their immune system becomes less able to fight infection. Even minor skin infections can lead to blood poisoning (septicaemia) if left untreated, which can have serious consequences. A healthy routine will help protect them from bacteria and disease.

Whatever the circumstances, there are plenty of ways you can help a vulnerable person in your care to live a healthy, comfortable life:

• Cook food through properly to kill any harmful bacteria
• Clean all food preparation surfaces regularly
• Store cooked and raw food separately to avoid cross-contamination
• When re-heating food, always make sure it’s piping hot to kill bacteria (but allow to cool sufficiently before serving)
• Keep bathrooms clean and disinfected. Someone who is unwell may hold onto rails and handles more than a healthy person would
• Hand washing is essential for you, your patient and any visitors. Encourage everyone to wash their hands after going to the toilet, before preparing food and before eating
• Keep bed linen and bed clothes hygienically clean by washing on a hot 60° cycle once a week to kill bacteria
• Use Dettol Laundry Sanitiser in your regular laundry wash to prevent contamination and kill 99.9% of bacteria

Caring for the elderly at home

There are many reasons why elderly people can become unable to look after their hygiene properly. They might be physically incapable of getting in and out of the bath, or they might have dementia or a mental health issue holding them back.

If you have an elderly relative living with you, it can be difficult to discuss personal hygiene issues with them. How can you go about maintaining a healthy routine, without making them (or you) feel uncomfortable?

Put yourself in their shoes. If you understand how your relative feels about their personal hygiene and what their limitations are, it will be easier to come to a compromise about routines and levels of care. Poor hygiene can lead to painful skin conditions, rashes, and serious infections. So, however hard it may be, remember that keeping them clean is essential for their good health.

Incontinence can cause feelings of shame or embarrassment for your elderly relative, as well as for you. But it’s important to change underwear regularly and sanitary protection. Keep the area clean and dry in order to avoid infection and unpleasant odours.

• If someone is unable to care for themselves, make sure you wash their face, bottom and genitals every day to reduce the risk of infection
• Patients should shower or bath at least twice a week
• Help or encourage them to brush their teeth twice a day