Creating A Safe Environment in Long-Term Care Facilities: Key Considerations

Role of Disinfection in Organizational Safety


Sophie Zoria

3 years ago | 4 min read

During a major public health crisis like COVID-19, healthcare facilities usually strengthen their safety policies to account for the emerging risks.

However, some organizations face additional challenges in the process. Nursing homes are among the brightest examples, as they need to align their procedures with care philosophy, take the perception of residents into account, and choose equipment and methodology accordingly.

Nursing Homes: Common Risk Factors

Long-term care facilities for the elderly are a critical component of public health for numerous reasons. While these settings may lack the comfort and familiarity of home care, they are better equipped for serving the needs of the aging population. However, such facilities also face unique challenges. First, people who live in these care centers are usually more vulnerable to various diseases due to:

● Weakened immune systems

● Comorbidities like diabetes and arthritis

● Weakened immune system

● Increased frailty and chronic conditions

● Higher likelihood of a cytokine storm

On top of that, as is common in clinical settings, nursing homes are at a higher risk of infection from various pathogens, including multidrug-resistant organisms. In combination, these factors pose a considerable threat to the well-being of both the resident population and the staff.

Mitigating these risks not only improves health outcomes and the quality of life among residents but also improves the operational efficiency of the organization by reducing the costs of care.

Role of Disinfection in Organizational Safety

Removal of pathogens from the environment through cleaning is key to minimizing the risk of infection. In the case of facilities for senior living, this involves a number of considerations:

1. Efficient cleaning procedures

2. Schedule optimized for residents’ routines

3. Consistency with visitation policies

4. Availability of supplies

What follows is an overview of approaches that can help nursing homes to decrease the likelihood of infections while retaining the quality of service.

Cleaning and Disinfection

Despite being often used interchangeably, these terms actually represent two aspects of the same process. Cleaning refers to physically removing the impurities from the surface to reduce the number of pathogens, whereas disinfection involves their elimination using chemicals or other means.

In many cases, these approaches are combined, such as during the treatment of equipment and frequently touched surfaces with a disinfectant.

To eliminate potential health hazards, long-term care facilities are recommended to utilize hospital-grade disinfectants approved for use in populated settings.

The application method is another concern. While solid surfaces like handrails and tabletops can be cleaned simply by wiping them with a wet cloth, many items require a more sophisticated sterilization procedure, which is often impractical. One way of addressing this is fogging – the technology that atomizes the disinfection solution into microscopic particles to ensure even application on porous surfaces like fabric.

Not only does this method allow to reduce the time of environmental cleaning, it is also suitable for the disinfection of the facility’s staff using non-hazardous substances such as hypochlorous acid.

Optimized Cleaning Schedule

As with any reasonably complex organization, a long-term care facility should have its disinfection procedures arranged in a way that doesn’t disrupt its operations. On top of that, residents’ desires should also be taken into account to provide the necessary level of dignity and privacy.

One interesting approach that has gained traction during the COVID-19 pandemic is the use of robotics. A portable disinfection robot may feel less intrusive than the nursing home staff member and is capable of maintaining the schedule much better than humans, not to mention its invulnerability to viruses and bacteria.

To be fair, integrating these devices into the policies and procedures of medical settings is not easy. At the very least, it would require familiarizing the residents with the equipment. Nevertheless, the approach is gaining popularity in the healthcare sector and can become a viable direction to take by long-term care facilities.

Visitation Policies

While cleaning is mainly intended to eradicate pathogens inside the facility, it is equally important to minimize their introduction with inbound traffic. While limiting access on-premises can address this problem, it can also go against the organization’s care philosophy.

Besides, the presence of family members can be desirable in some compassionate care situations. So, screening visitors for symptoms will probably be necessary alongside the recommendation to reduce the number of visits.

One way to mitigate the effects of visitor restrictions is using remote communication wherever feasible. In cases where virtual visits are insufficient, proper measures should be taken to keep everyone safe. One of the cost-efficient ways of doing this is contactless temperature measurement.

While it doesn’t guarantee full protection, it serves as an additional check that helps minimize exposure. Some disinfection solutions have infrared thermometers integrated within their system, creating an additional layer of protection.


Naturally, the availability of supplies is essential for maintaining the established disinfection routine. This ranges from putting tissues in common areas to promote respiratory etiquette to optimizing the use of PPE and disinfectants. In the case of reusable assets such as face shields, the staff should adhere to decontamination procedures.

Certain disinfection methods can also help reduce expenses – for instance, fogging consumes far less disinfectant than wiping, which can ensure significant savings in the long run.

Wrapping Up

Establishing a safe environment in a long-term care facility like a nursing home is a multi-layered process. In addition to operational and clinical considerations, it has to account for the organization’s care philosophy and individual needs of residents.

Thus, it requires a coordinated effort of management and staff members to create an environment that is both equipped and conducive to safe behaviors.


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Sophie Zoria

Sophie Zoria is a passioned journalist writing about tech and marketing trends, mobile apps, and design. Check out her Medium page:







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