Preventing the Spread of Infectious Diseases: Best Practices for Elderly Care Facilities

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Updated on:

June 18, 2023

Cleaning and sanitization in elderly care facilities: prioritizing your residents' healthy environment

Elderly residents tend to have a weakened immune system, especially those in senior care facilities and nursing homes. It is so crucial to upkeep a clean and sanitary environment for seniors living in them.

In this article, we will share our insights on how to implement good hygiene practices in retirement homes and which tools will help you and your staff members keep the residents happy and healthy.

Key Takeaways:

  • Clean and sanitize care facilities to prioritize the health of elderly residents.
  • Use approved disinfectants, portable steam cleaner and train cleaning personnel for proper room cleaning.
  • Staff and administration should promote good hygiene, provide reminders for handwashing, and assist residents with daily tasks to maintain a safe environment.

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cleaning and disinfection in elderly care facilities

Know the Differences Between Disinfecting Vs. Cleaning routine

One of the most harmful viruses that can spread in the community is the Coronavirus, as well as the common cold. These viruses can be transmitted through indirect contact with others or by landing on surfaces.

To reduce the risk of passing along such viruses, it's important to regularly clean these surfaces. It's important to note that cleaning and disinfecting are two separate processes, though they are often combined. The CDC explains that cleaning is the process of removing dirt or germs from surfaces.

Definition and purpose of cleaning: removing dirt and germs from surfaces

According to health experts and to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cleaning involves getting rid of germs, dirt, and impurities from surfaces. While cleaning does not eliminate germs, it reduces their quantity and lessens the possibility of transmitting infection.

Definition and purpose of disinfecting: utilizing chemicals to kill germs on surfaces

Conversely, disinfecting entails utilizing chemicals to kill germs on surfaces. It does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces, remove dirt or eliminate germs, but it significantly decreases the risk of spreading infection by killing the germs present.

Importance of combining cleaning and disinfecting for effective germ removal

Therefore, the most effective approach to remove germs would be to combine cleaning and disinfecting. Initially, clean the surface with soap and water to eliminate dirt, dust, and surface-level germs. Then, use a disinfectant to kill the remaining germs.

Disinfecting Hard Surfaces: A Guide for Seniors and Caregivers Sanitation Practices

Commercial cleaners and cleaning products

Commercial cleaners and cleaning products are going to help facility managers and professional cleaning staff to keep a clean environment. Having personal protective equipment always in stock is one of the things senior living homes should have. Below are some things you should always have in stock.

portable steam cleaner

Fortador Steamer

Steamers have become cleaning equipment used more and more in the outside world in different industries, from car cleaning, children facility cleaning, and more! Steam cleaning combines the two most important things, cleaning and disinfecting in one device.

The boiler of the Volt MINI heats up in just five minutes, allowing for quick steam production. It sets itself apart from other portable steam cleaners by operating at high pressure and temperatures, providing a powerful 101.5 psi steam output with a maximum temperature of 338 degrees Fahrenheit. Its sturdy build is composed of high-strength AISI 304 stainless steel, ensuring its long-lasting durability.

Cavicide surfaces disinfectant

This product is EPA-registered and can eliminate pathogens in three minutes or less. It has been proven to be effective against TB, HBV, HCV, both hydrophilic and lipophilic viruses, bacteria such as MRSA, VRE, and Salmonella, and fungi. Its non-caustic formula is safe for most inanimate surfaces and can even be used in an ultrasonic cleaner. Despite its ability to kill on contact, it is also non-toxic.

Hand Sanitizer

In hospitals, it is common for patients to receive hand washing when a nurse enters their patient room, to wash their hands. This is a practice implemented to prevent infections, and it involves the distribution of hand sanitizers throughout patient rooms. While not every household or apartment may have access to hand sanitizers, it is still advisable for caregivers to use them regularly, particularly when interacting with residents. Providing caregivers with a hand sanitizer bottle to carry with them throughout the day is a helpful precaution to take.

Use Approved Disinfectants —  Safely and Properly

Challenges in finding effective disinfectants and the EPA's approved list

Finding disinfectants in grocery stores can be a daunting task, and it can be challenging to know which products are most effective in eliminating pathogens. Fortunately, the EPA has released a report detailing disinfectants that are approved for use against the coronavirus and other germs.

Safety precautions 

In most cases, a standard household disinfectant will suffice. However, it's important to use the selected disinfectant safely and efficiently. Here are some principles to keep in mind.

  • It's important to be cautious when using disinfectants on your skin and around your eyes. These products can be harsh, so consider wearing protective gloves and eyewear to minimize contact. Additionally, make sure you have plenty of ventilation by opening windows and doors.
  • Give disinfectants enough "contact time" to work properly. Don't make the mistake of wiping them off immediately after applying. Instead, allow the solution to air dry on surfaces to ensure it kills all the germs and bacteria.
  • Never mix chemicals when making your own sanitary wipes or diluting bleach. Mixing chemicals with anything besides water can be dangerous and cause adverse reactions.
  • Always read the manufacturer's instructions before using any household disinfectant. This will provide important information on how to use the product safely, what surfaces it can be used on and what safety precautions should be taken.
  • Dispose of soiled gloves and disinfectant wipes properly. Use a lined trash can, if possible, and avoid reusing wipes or gloves as this can spread germs from one surface to another.

The FDA approves various hydrogen peroxide/peracetic acid combinations as disinfectants for healthcare settings. The effectiveness of peracetic acid is enhanced when combined with hydrogen peroxide, particularly in combating glutaraldehyde-resistant mycobacteria.

Cleaning Patient Rooms

Properly Cleaning Patient Rooms in a Nursing Home

The managers of facilities take every necessary step to ensure the safety of the residents in the areas where they work. The senior living industry demands constant evaluation of safety protocols, a need that has increased since the discovery of the Coronavirus. The management is not only concerned about the physical health but also the mental well-being of the residents.

An Overall Clean at the Senior Living Community

Maintaining a safe and hygienic environment for the senior citizens residing in your housing facility is crucial. Regularly cleaning the carpets is an essential step towards achieving this goal. The next step is to effectively eliminate any unpleasant odors and ensure that dining areas within the premises always smell fresh.

Additionally, it is important to keep the communal areas, such as game rooms, movie areas, and other recreational spaces, clean and odor-free. It is advisable to ensure that the rooms are free of any debris or fingerprints.

What Staff and Administration Can Do to Protect Seniors

The smooth functioning of the living space in a nursing home rests on the shoulders of administrators and staff who oversee its daily operations. The staff's diligent efforts ensure that the environment remains safe and clean for the residents and the smooth running of the facility.

Create a Regular Disinfecting Schedule

Creating a cleaning routine that does not fail is the most important when it comes to keeping seniors safe. It all starts with cleaning and disinfecting of high touch surfaces. Some things need special attention to prevent the spread of germs.

  • Tables
  • Hard-backed chairs
  • Door handles
  • Elevator buttons
  • Light switches
  • Toys and games
  • Inside cars, trucks, and other vehicles
  • Phones, tablets, and touch screens
  • Handles and cabinet hardware
  • Remote controls
  • Keyboards
  • Personal mobility equipment (wheelchairs, canes, etc.)
  • Desks
  • Toilets
  • Sinks and faucet handles

Encourage Work at One Facility Only

Risks associated with caregivers traveling between facilities

Many senior care facilities, particularly those with multiple locations in one community, may have their caregivers travel between facilities to care for multiple residents.

However, this practice can lead to longer work hours, staff shortages, and an increased risk of disease transmission between centers.

Importance of limiting contact and monitoring the health status of workers

It is important for caregivers to limit their contact with residents and other institutions. They should avoid unnecessary travel from one location to another. Additionally, management should regularly monitor the health status of their workers.

Cleaning Personnel

Effective Training for Cleaning Personnel

Preventative measures for staff 

To prevent breathing difficulties for older residents, it's important for staff and personnel who own homes to take preventative measures while cleaning the home. Effective cleansing solutions can eliminate germs without causing any harmful side effects.

Proper fixture maintenance and safety protocols

Additionally, proper fixture maintenance is crucial, and cleaning crews should be well-informed about the procedures involved. Safety is always a top priority, and implementing the best techniques is essential for ensuring good health.

How to Encourage Residents to Maintain Good Hygiene

It is important for them to prioritize good sanitary hygiene practices to maintain a safe environment at home and in the community. Care centers should be particularly vigilant about promoting healthy habits among their residents. It's best to approach this topic with gentle reminders rather than fear-based messaging, as some seniors may feel anxious or scared and be less likely to take action.

Make sure your residents understand the utmost importance of safety measures while also providing reassurance that their caregivers are there to protect their health.

Provide Hand Washing and Sanitizing Procedure Reminders

One way to encourage proper hand washing is to post signs in common areas that provide guidelines and reminders. Additionally, ensure that bathroom facilities in shared spaces are well-stocked with soap and other necessary supplies. For residents, consider sending reminder letters to restock essential cleaning items when supplies run low. To minimize contact and exposure, suggest that residents place food orders and have family members pick up essential items during a designated delivery window. If needed, staff can assist with ordering to make the process more comfortable for residents.

Encourage Residents to Follow a Routine

Seniors often require assistance with their daily tasks, and it's common for them to feel anxious, particularly when it pertains to health, safety, and cleanliness concerns. From taking out the trash to doing laundry, residents may need help with various tasks. A simple act like washing their hair can go a long way in boosting their confidence. It's reassuring to know that staff members can be a reliable and single point of contact for any assistance needed.

happy in elderly care facilities


Maintaining clean elderly care facilities is crucial for residents' health. Use approved disinfectants and portable steam cleaners. Staff should promote good hygiene, provide reminders, and assist residents. Understand the difference between cleaning and disinfecting. Encourage residents to follow hygiene routines and provide handwashing reminders. Proper training for cleaning personnel is essential. Limit caregiver travel between facilities and monitor their health. Prioritize cleanliness for a safe environment.

About the Authors

Sabrina Tretyakova
In the world of cleanliness and hygiene, Sabrina Tretyakova stands as a beacon of expertise and dedication. As an ISSA-certified cleaning technician, Sabrina brings a wealth of knowledge and three years of unwavering commitment to her profession. Having served a staggering 1,200 clients
Lev Tretyakov
With over 25 years in the industry, I bring extensive sales expertise in heavy equipment across diverse sectors. Pioneered the first CAD/CAM school in CIS countries. Proud owner of Miami's premier auto detailing hub, Totaal Steam Detailing, hailed as the finest in Miami-Dade by Google.

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