June honours the invaluable contributions, resilience, and wisdom of our senior citizens. Seniors’ Month serves as a reminder to not only focus on the positive aspects of aging but to promote a discussion of the crucial issue of long-term care for our aging population.
According to the World Health Organization, one in six people in the world will be aged 60 years or more by 2030, and the number of seniors aged 80 years or more is expected to triple by 20501. As the advancement of modern medicine increases life expectancy, there is an increasing need for long-term care that supports the health and well-being of the growing aging population.
However, many long-term care facilities are in crisis. Insufficient staffing compromises the quality of care provided to seniors, with delays in response times that contribute to poor infection control2. Crowding in long-term care facilities also contributes to the spread of infectious diseases within facilities and is associated with an increase in mortality rates3 . Approximately 10% of residents in long-term care develop skin infections from exposure to various environmental pathogens4, and damaged and unsanitary mattresses promote microbial growth and become breeding grounds for environmental pathogens5.The abundance of environmental pathogens in long-term care facilities pose a significant risk to the health and well-being of our aging population.
One big challenge facing long-term care is high infection rates. The population is aging and more than 1.5 million adults rely on long-term care facilities in the United States alone7. The CDC reports that a staggering 1-3 million infections are estimated to occur annually within these facilities8. Exposure to the long-term care environment can facilitate the spread of disease, so infection control measures must be in place to help prevent cross-contamination between healthcare staff, patients, and the environment7.
CleanPatch enables healthcare staff to properly maintain some of the highest touchpoints in the long-term care environment. Rips, punctures, and abrasions on mattresses, wheelchairs, and other patient surfaces create reservoirs for bodily fluids and microbes. These contaminants can propagate the spread of infections among patients and staff, contributing to elevated infection rates. The Joint Commission stipulates that patient surfaces must be fully intact to be properly disinfected, so a damaged patient surface limits the efficacy of infection prevention measures.
Research has demonstrated that adults over the age of 60 are sedentary for more than 9.4 hours of their waking day6. This simply means that as we age, we spend more time sitting or lying down. In long-term care, many patients spend long durations in bed or on mobility aids such as wheelchairs and stretchers. It is therefore of great importance that the surfaces they use routinely are safe, intact, and hygienic.
1 World Health Organization. (2022, October 1). Ageing and health. World Health Organization. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/ageing-and-health
2 Chan-Nguyen, S. (2023, January 3). Five steps for tackling Canada’s long-term care crisis. Faculty of Health Sciences | Queen’s University. https://www.queensu.ca/gazette/stories/five-steps-tackling-canada-s-long-term-care-crisis
3 Chan-Nguyen, S. (2023, January 3). Five steps for tackling Canada’s long-term care crisis. Faculty of Health Sciences | Queen’s University. https://www.queensu.ca/gazette/stories/five-steps-tackling-canada-s-long-term-care-crisis
4 Mitchell, E. (2021, March 17). Nursing homes and infection control: The most common infections. Health.Care. https://blog.eoscu.com/blog/nursing-homes-and-infection-control-the-most-common-infections
5 Center for Devices and Radiological Health. (2017, November 20). Covers for hospital bed mattresses – keep them safe. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. https://www.fda.gov/medical-devices/hospital-beds/covers-hospital-bed-mattresses-learn-how-keep-them-safe
6Harvey, J. A., Chastin, S. F. M., & Skelton, D. A. (2014). How sedentary are older people? A systematic review of the amount of sedentary behavior. Journal of Aging and Physical Activity, 23(3), 471–487. https://doi.org/10.1123/japa.2014-0164
7 Nursing Home Abuse Support Team. (2021, September 29). Infections in nursing homes – how these infections happen. Nursing Home Abuse Center. https://www.nursinghomeabusecenter.com/nursing-home-injuries/infections/
8 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, June 22). Long-Term Care Facilities. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/longtermcare/index.html