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There’s danger lurking in care homes nationwide and most of the time, facility administrators and personnel have no idea about it. It definitely took the death of a 95-year-old man from a Reading Borough Council care home to provide the reality check the people needed to take careful action in ensuring that their facility will not be the cause of death of the residents.

According to reports, the 95-year-old man named Lewis Payne died of Legionnaire’s disease, a unique illness that can be acquired from exposure to the Legionella bacteria. Its symptoms include headache, muscle pain, chills and high fever for the initial stage, but as the condition worsens over a day or two, symptoms become graver as well — there are hacking coughs that bring up mucus and blood, difficulty in breathing, chest pains, vomiting, nausea and diarrhoea, and even memory lapses.

Payne’s initial complaint was that he was not feeling well and none of the staff of the care home had any training in recognising the other symptoms being manifested by the old man. As his condition grew worse, medical tests conducted at a hospital proved that he had Legionnaire’s pneumonia. While he received treatment for the disease, his age and the late treatment weakened him significantly, and he died not long after.

Due to the determination that the cause of death was exposure to Legionella bacteria, an investigation was conducted to establish where he could have been exposed to it. It was found in his wash basin, in one of the upstairs showers, and in an outside tap of the care home. So the whole time, it was not only Payne that was in danger but also the other residents of the facility.

Needless to say, there was a level of neglect on the facility manager’s part for there were health and safety policies set for the industry that they were unable to carry out.

Such a fatality could have been prevented because there are available products that can make sure that water systems in homes and care facilities are completely free from harmful bacteria that can compromise people’s health. To check for Legionnella bacteria in taps, tubs, shower heads and other water heating systems, a Legionella testing kit can be purchased; water samples from different water distribution systems are gathered and these samples are taken to the laboratory for immediate testing. When all the samples have been analysed, the lab sends a detailed report of the water composition. Another way to ensure that the bacteria is not present in shower heads and taps is by using Shower Head Plus which is a cleaning agent so powerful, it can kill off Legionella bacteria and other germs.

Care homes should be a place where people feel safe and well taken care of. Thus, it’s imperative that these places uphold the highest standards for cleanliness and health. With the right products and consistent practices for sanitation, no one else should suffer an unfortunate death like Lewis Payne did.

+Duncan Hollis