The book entitled "Health and Safety in Care Homes" published by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) serves as a guideline for owners and managers of care homes.

It issues reminders on different key aspects of care home management, including managing health and safety, incident reporting, moving and handling, equipment safety, safe use of bed rails, falls from height, slips, trips and falls, hazardous substances, infections and diseases, hot water and surfaces, work-related violence and aggression, and more.

Two important key areas that are sometimes neglected by care home owners and managers that are touched on in the book are Legionella and care home Legionella testing.

While almost everyone may succumb to Legionnaires' disease, there are some groups that are at greater risk of contracting the disease, including the elderly who reside in care homes. As such, care home owners and managers should pay careful attention and give consideration to the water systems installed and used in these residences.

Using Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH) 2002 and the ACOP on Legionnaires’ disease, the book issues a few recommendations on managing water systems in care homes and preventing the outbreak of Legionnaires' disease.

One key recommendation from the book is the appointment of a competent person who will assess the hot and cold water systems in the care home. This person will also be tasked with overseeing the implementation of measures designed to control the exposure of residents to Legionella. Another responsibility that this person must carry out is the routine checking, inspection and cleaning of the water system in accordance to the guidelines set forth by pertinent regulations.

The book also recommends the identification and monthly check of sentinel points in the water system and their distribution temperatures. For stagnant water, the book outlines a few tactics to reduce the risk of Legionella. This includes removal of dead legs in the pipework, flushing out of infrequently used outlets, and cleaning and descaling of shower heads and hoses.

As for cold water storage tanks, the book recommends an annual check of these as well as the water stored in them. For hot and cold water systems which cannot achieve consistent temperature, the book recommends monitoring carried out in accordance to HSE's guidelines.

If the facility is going to be refurbished or if new structures are to be added, the book issues a few recommendations to minimise Legionella growth. These include keeping the pipework direct and short, the use of insulation for pipes and tanks, and selecting materials that inhibit growth of Legionella.

 

Written by +Duncan Hollis, Aquacert