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The Importance of Hand Hygiene in Preventing a COVID-19 Outbreak in Nursing Homes

April 19, 2020 Ofir Broides Vavker

COVID-19 is affecting people around the world and it’s becoming clearer and clearer that older people have a greater fatality rate. As people grow old, background diseases tend to become more prevalent. Along with a decline in the body’s natural ability to repair itself, this leaves the older population vulnerable to germs and viruses – let alone a global pandemic. There is an alarming correlation between age and the probability of dying after contracting the coronavirus: for 60-69 year olds the death rate is 3.6%, for 70-79 year olds – 8%, with elderly people aged 80+ are at greatest risk – 22%. Hand Hygiene is playing a great role in the infection of older people, a population whose numbers grow every day.

Today there are approximately 39.5 million adults over the age of 65 in the US alone, 5.6 million of them over the age of 85. In the next twenty years, the “baby boomer” generation will have already celebrated their 65th birthday, crossing into the category of “older population” as well. This means roughly 75 million people will join the older population, who have the greatest risk for health concerns. It’s assumed that by the year 2050, 19 million people in the US will be 85 or older. 

A large part of the older population spend their later years in residential facilities, assisted living and nursing homes according to the National Institute on Aging. The question that remains unanswered, however, is are these places the safest for the older, at risk population? In Israel, several nursing homes recently suffered COVID-19 outbreaks, resulting in the deaths of 43 residents as of now which comprise of a third of total coronavirus death toll in Israel as of 3 days ago. What is scarier is that the numbers are rising still. In the places that are supposed to take the most caution with the older generations, such an incident is beyond heartbreaking and dangerous. 

Preventing the next COVID-19 outbreak

We now know that washing hands is essential for keeping germs and viruses away, the recent outbreak of COVID-19 has spread this knowledge far and wide. Simply washing hands thoroughly can help halt the virus, with soap destroying the structure of the viruses themselves. The importance of hand hygiene has never been more obvious.

However, the staff that comes into contact with the older patients aren’t always eager to follow protocol, either because of a  lack of education on the subject or because of a deadly time crunch that makes washing hands properly the least of their concerns.

Managers had no sure way of knowing how well their staff has washed their hands, if at all, increasing the risk of one unknowing COVID-19 carrier passing it on to the whole facility. Other than striving to educate their staff members on the importance of proper handwashing, managers could only hope that anyone who comes in contact with their elderly clients does a good enough job washing up beforehand. 

How can Soapy improve hand hygiene and help prevent an outbreak?

Soapy has developed a unique technological solution for this predicament. The ECO Hand Hygiene micro-station offers a facial recognition feature that helps managers and staff alike keep track of the number of times they’d washed their hands while ensuring a thorough wash. The smart plug and play device also indicates the appropriate length of time one should wash their hands – while dispensing the exact amount of soap and heated water required, saving valuable resources for the facility. This way, even the most pressed for time workers can wash their hands free of deadly germs and viruses without wasting precious time. 

Soapy also allows managers a measure of control in this important aspect of their facility. The face-recognition feature helps them monitor their staff, ensuring the safety of the elder residents in the facility, while also saving a great amount of water, soap and electricity per wash.

To help combat the spread of COVID-19  and save as many lives as possible, Soapy has decided to make nursing homes and institutes that treat the elderly a priority. This means that such institutes would receive the fastest shipping available, with a minimum order of three units of the ECO micro-station (instead of five, for other institutions).

Photo by Alex Boyd on Unsplash

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