Care Home Infection- The Importance of a “Early Warning System”

By Hugo Spalding, Managing Director, Gather Care (

It is good news that care home resi- dents may be allowed to spend Christmas with their families and a few may be able to visit family homes during the festive season.

Of course, this comes at a price with the risk of infections being brought back to care homes which is why the government is asking those care home residents who do visit family to only form a bubble of one rather than three.

2020 has been a challenging year for everyone, and in the care sector it is vital to allow families the chance to spend

Christmas together if possible. However, infectious outbreaks of any kind, not just Covid, can cause a home to lockdown residents, or the whole home, causing huge disappointment.

The government has promised greater access to testing in care homes, but this can be effectively supple-

By Hugo Spalding, Managing Director, Gather Care (

mented with an early warning system that highlights outbreaks. Tracking infection data helps a care home understand the probability of an outbreak through regular comparison of daily data inputs. By tracking certain symptom rates, you can start to predict whether your home may experience an outbreak.

This gives homes a much greater opportunity to respond accordingly to potential outbreaks, for example, seeing a rise in pyrexia and diarrhea may indicate a home is going to experience an outbreak of norovirus that needs intervention to prevent. This then means carers and care home managers know what they need to put certain process in place or order more PPE to fight infection.
This knowledge is a powerful tool in the hands of the carers as it gives them an early warning in the fight against illness. To be able to predict a potential issue and act on it appropriately before it has a chance to manifest not only saves time and resources but can save lives.

With the year it’s been everyone wants to have a break and see their families without thinking of the possi- ble repercussions, but when working within the healthcare sector the wellbeing of residents has to take pri- ority even if that means restrictions.

However, being able to allow some residents to see their families is an amazing opportunity that care homes should allow if proper precautions can be taken. Adopting a data focused culture within a home can be that precaution.

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