We’ll start this article with a couple of important definitions:
- Cleaning decreases the number of viruses present
- Disinfection destroys them
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) advocates a two-step process: first, clean the surface or object with soap/detergent and water. Second, disinfect it.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) lists hundreds of products approved to kill viruses. When selecting disinfectants, look for products with active ingredients such as hydrogen peroxide or quaternary ammonium. Check labels for EPA registration numbers. Isopropyl alcohol solutions of 70-percent alcohol may be used as well as disinfectant sprays.
Bleach Solution Disinfectant
A diluted household bleach solution of four teaspoons of bleach per quart of room-temperature water can be used to disinfect. Make sure the bleach is labeled for the purpose of disinfection (some bleaches are not), and includes a sodium hypochlorite concentration of 5 to 6 percent. Also, check the expiration date of the bleach.
Prior to using the solution, clean the surface and dry it. Allow the bleach to remain on the surface for up to 10 minutes, then rinse and dry the surface thoroughly.
Bleach solutions are effective for disinfection up to 24 hours. In addition, use the following tips when using bleach:
- Confirm that it won’t harm the surfaces you are disinfecting
- Never mix the bleach with other cleaners, ammonia or vinegar. This can can create a hazardous gas
- Create only enough solution for one day’s use. Bleach degrades rapidly when mixed with water
- Label the solution clearly and keep it away from children, people with dementia, and pets
- Dilute the solution with plenty of water before discarding it down a drain
There are additional recommendations when using other disinfectants as well as bleach:
- Wear eye and skin protection (including waterproof gloves)
- Ensure adequate ventilation during use
- Prevent chemical contact with food
- People with asthma should not be present while the disinfection process is occurring
What to Disinfect
In light of the pandemic and to help avoid the transmission of Coronavirus, high-use surfaces and objects should be frequently disinfected. These could include:
- Cupboard and drawer knobs/pulls
- Toilets, including toilet seats and handles
- Keyboards and computer mouse
- Stairway railings
- Countertops and table surfaces
- Appliance handles and buttons
- Stove knobs, microwave handles
- Light switches and plates.
However, don’t wipe cell phones or other mobile devices with bleach. These items should be cleaned with disinfectant wipes, before doing so check the manufacturer’s recommendation.
Very important — don’t touch your hands to your face while disinfecting. After removing and discarding your gloves, immediately wash your hands. If you use reusable gloves, disinfect them after you are finished disinfecting surfaces. Also, frequently wash hands with soap and water during the day, and especially after handling any deliveries or packages. The CDC continues to recommend a vigorous 20-second scrub.
Safety at Bethesda
According to Lynn Licklider, the Corporate Director of Clinical Services at Bethesda, when just one person in Missouri tested positive for COVID-19, Bethesda took immediate steps for the safety of residents and staff.
The steps included:
- Stopping visitation and limiting access to Bethesda communities to essential personnel only.
- Educating all staff, as well as providing education and materials to residents and families.
- Masking of all staff and residents while providing care.
- Adding face shields and eye protection within Memory Care units, admission units and COVID+ areas.
- Screening questions, including temperature checks to everyone entering a Bethesda building, as well as temperature checks as they exit long-term care communities.
- Limiting all outside appointments with the exception of dialysis.
- Restricting all communal activities.
- Initiating telehealth services for residents which allows remote access to a physician.
- Frequent education and audits to measure compliance with infection control measures.
- Following all CDC guidelines, as well as Missouri and Illinois guidelines.
Lynn stated, “We also stay in frequent contact with local hospitals and other nursing homes. Additionally, Bethesda is actively involved with organizations that have an important voice within local and state agencies and have influenced decisions made within our organization.”
To learn about additional safety tips, check out the Senior Home Safety section of our blog.