Freelance Contribution by Jessica Walter

The recent US World & News Report indicated that out of 183 nursing homes graded in South Carolina, 15% were considered as top performing while 13% were rated as the worst. In this assessment, several criteria were used such as health inspections, quality of resident care and staffing. Healthcare inspections in nursing homes are seen in their totality. Hence, inspectors look at several components including ensuring residents are cared for adequately by hiring enough staff to look after them and protecting them from neglect. Health inspections also include medications management and safe storage & preparation of food.  Cleanliness and hygiene are imperative in nursing home settings to ensure that patients are safeguarded from diseases and infections.

The Elderly Have Weak Immune Systems

Overall, good hygiene practices are important to prevent bacteria and germs from contaminating the nursing home. This means that toilets and bathrooms must be properly sanitized to inhibit bacteria and germs from spreading that can cause the elderly to become sick or acquire infections.

The kitchen is an area that must be kept spotless and sanitary because this is where food storage and preparation occur. To prevent contamination, countertops, utensils, and materials must be clean. Food handlers must wash their hands properly before touching anything. Among the elderly, this is critical because they have weaker immune systems whether due to the normal effects of aging or to a chronic illness. Mature adults are at high risk of getting infections and diseases. If food is prepared in unsanitary conditions and meals are contaminated, the probability of getting foodborne illnesses among seniors is high. The elderly, age 65 years and above, is predisposed to morbidity and mortality due to foodborne gastroenteritis compared to younger groups (Smith, 1998). According to the same study, practicing a healthy lifestyle, paying attention to personal hygiene, sanitary food preparation habits, exercise and balanced diets can reduce the incidence of foodborne diseases and infections among older adults.

Poor Hygiene and Sanitation Constitute Neglect

Often, poor sanitation in nursing homes is a result of inadequate staff. There are not enough personnel to take care of the facilities round the clock or nurses to care for patients. Administrators might forget to contract professionals to clean and maintain structures. Failure to keep the premises clean can cause infections and diseases among the elderly. Seniors whose personal hygiene are not monitored and addressed by the nursing home staff are also at high risk for getting ill which can result in complications and even death. Disregard for the sanitation & hygiene in a nursing home and its patients constitute a form of neglect. The nursing home is, in effect, liable for medical complications that arise due to lack of cleanliness or hygiene.

Regular cleaning and sanitation of nursing home premises are instrumental in protecting the health of patients. Without proper sanitation and hygiene, seniors are susceptible to diseases and foodborne infections that can cause complications and even death.

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