Simple precautions mean you won’t pass illness to elderly, says Margaret Tannahill

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WHETHER it’s flu, common colds or infections like norovirus, many people across the UK risk acquiring infections in winter and passing them on to their family, friends and colleagues.

During the cold weather, the spread of certain bugs can be an especially big challenge for care homes, where many residents who are living together are vulnerable to infections. It’s important to help limit the spread of winter bugs by taking the following simple precautions.

Making sure your hands are clean is one of the most important ways to stop infections spreading, so you should wash them regularly with soap and water, especially after going to the toilet.

Everyone, including residents who have been on outings, should use the hand hygiene facilities in the care home on entering and leaving.

Don’t visit a resident in a care home if you are feeling unwell or have an infection such as flu or a heavy cold, or if you or a member of your household is suffering from diarrhoea or vomiting.

If you are suffering from vomiting or diarrhoea you should not visit until 48 hours after your symptoms have stopped.

Finally, you should always talk to the care team if you have any concerns. Feel free to speak to any staff member about whether they have cleaned their hands. You should also talk to the person in charge if you have any concerns.

You can never be too cautious when it comes to ensuring older people are not put unnecessarily at risk this winter.

•Margaret Tannahill is the Care Inspectorate’s consultant nurse for infection control