Fight It Where It Is…The War Against E.coli

If running a nursing home or long term care facility was a horror movie, E.coli would be the monster that never dies. It’s just like Jason and Freddy Kruger. No matter what you do, no matter how many times you clean, it always comes back ready to hurt or kill someone as soon as you let your guard down. The truth is that the vast majority of facilities take heroic measures to keep E.coli in check and their residents healthy, but like with any battle, it takes more than just putting up a good fight. You also have to fight smart.

Anyone who has worked in this field quickly learns that there are two primary places where E.coli is spread. One is soiled briefs, and the other are the communal shower or bathing areas. Changing soiled briefs when they need it, and making sure the patients are cleaned properly is the most effective safeguard against self-contamination. The real challenge is the showers.

Cross contamination between patients in these communal bathing area is the problem. This is why it is so important to keep these areas clean between each patient’s bath. It’s not as easy as it sounds though. Bathing patients and cleaning the shower area still needs to be done in an efficient and cost effective manner. Tying up too many caregivers and resources in bathing isn’t good for the residents or the facility. The best solution is to have disinfecting shower cabinets installed in all the bathing areas. These disinfecting cabinets make it to where a CNA can quickly, easily, and thoroughly clean the shower and bathing equipment between uses. They don’t have to go for a cleaning cart, or have the cleaning supplies get in the way during the bath. The flow of patients remains steady, and they remain safe. It becomes a seamless part of the bathing process.

E.coli will always be that monster that keeps rearing its ugly head, and every day is going to be yesterday’s sequel. We can fight it though. An integrated disinfecting shower cabinet lets you send those E.coli monsters to meet their maker no matter how many times they come back. It’s a simple choice. Not only will keeping residents free from cross-contamination based UTIs raise a facility’s Quality Measures, it will make the lives of the patients more comfortable which is what matters most.

Infection Control and the Post-Antibiotic Period is Here!

Healthcare managers and providers are scrambling to find out what they can use on patients, now that many common infections are resistant to standard antibiotics. They are looking for that next wonder drug - that magic bullet that will make the patient all better. It’s a way of thinking brought on by the post-World War II mindset of a shot of penicillin being a universal cure-all. Those days are over.

Prevention is the new antibiotic, and may be the only solid defense against new strains of bacteria that have the potential to kill the most vulnerable among us. This is changing the approach to how nursing home residents are cared for. Caregivers must now take serious steps to ensure that their charges don’t get an infection in the first place now that many of the old cures are less effective or simply will no longer work.

The obvious course of action is to have long term care equipment be the crux of infection control and prevention. This is easier said than done. Most equipment used in nursing homes is based on designs and concepts that are nearly half a century old. The idea was to manage the patients in the most efficient way possible, and take care of any resulting infection with a quick shot or two of an antibiotic. Lighter materials and better ergonomics doesn’t mean that it is better or safer for the patient’s health. The points where cross contamination occur are still there whether it’s stainless steel or plastic. Equipment must be designed for infection control from the ground up, and naturally work with the idea of infection control and prevention being the new antibiotic.

Like with all things, the ultimate success of any device falls on the end user. This means that any piece of equipment designed as a preventative measure must be easy for caregivers to use, and cost effective for the facility to own. If it isn’t, it ultimately won’t work. Simplicity and ease of use are vital parts of this new era where infection control is so important. For all our sakes, let’s hope that it’s an idea that catches on. 

Superbugs - Why Infection Control is More Important Than Ever

The overuse of antibiotics over the past decades has forced the healthcare industry to learn a hard lesson that the most vulnerable among us will ultimately pay for. Now we see the rise of super-bugs – antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria that are hard to get rid of. This is something that experts on infectious diseases have been warning everyone about for years, but no one listened.

 

Our folly is understandable. For seventy years, advances in medicine had given us miracles like penicillin and Cipro. If there was a new bug, we squashed it. If that bug got stronger, we’d squash it harder. Now we have reached the point where some of these bugs can’t be squashed.

 

Antibiotics were once the go to cure all, but the rise of superbugs has made them less effective.

Antibiotics were once the go to cure all, but the rise of superbugs has made them less effective.

The old way of thinking was that if someone got a UTI or some other sort of infection, it was a simple fix to pump the patient full of antibiotics. This was easier and more convenient for caregivers at the time, and it fit the narrative that was fed to us about the cure being easy enough that prevention wasn’t important. People were often prescribed antibiotics they didn’t need to either alleviate a patient’s or family’s fears, or as an unnecessary preventative. It was a mindset that has come back to haunt us.

 

We haven’t quite reached the super-bug Armageddon, yet, but we can see it on the horizon. The days of being able to nuke infections out of existence are fading like a sunset in a Hollywood Western. Everyone with half a mind now knows that the only way to stay ahead of the germs is to fight them with preventative measures.

 

This new reality underscores the long overlooked importance of preventative measures and infection control. The antibiotics we all used to rely on are fast becoming useless in the face of drug resistant bacteria. This means that a simple UTI that could have been cured with a couple of shots has become a deadly threat for millions of elderly Americans in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. To put it bluntly, for many vulnerable people in long term care, it’s either infection control or death.

 

Failures in infection control result in both human suffering and a greater cost of care. This can result in billions of Medicare dollars spent on something that could have been avoided by taking some extra precautions. While scoring high on quality measures is important, the people in the business of long term care are here because they have compassion in their hearts for the most vulnerable in our society. Still, it takes money and resources to provide the level of care these people deserve, and preventative measures like infection control is a great way to not only provide quality care and comfort, but to also conserve resources so we can provide even more. 

How to do it Right

How many times have we seen our friends and neighbors, or even ourselves, decide to tackle a major home improvement project? Sure, the Home Depot and Lowes commercials make it look like a breeze, and by late afternoon, the family will be standing on their new deck or patio enjoying a cookout. We go out, and buy the nails, lumber, and a couple of new tools to get the job done. It’s never that easy though, is it? A simple weekend project to build a deck can become a weeks long race to finish before Labor Day. An experienced contractor could have gotten it done in a day or two, but not everyone has that level of skill. We’re left standing there amongst the turning autumn leaves looking over a half-finished summer project, wondering why nothing is level and how come none of the joints never really fit. We then look at our fancy tools that the home improvement mega store convinced us to buy, and finally realize that it’s not the tool that counts so much as the know-how to use them right. It’s a universal truth for any profession, from a fast food fry cook to a software engineer. The best tool in the world is useless, if the person with it in their hands doesn’t know how to use it.

Storm Shower Chairs are no different. Caregivers have to know, not only how to use one of our chairs, but also understand the importance of infection control, how dangerous infections spread, and proper cleaning techniques. These concepts go hand in hand. If a caregiver bathes a patient using one of our chairs, and a couple of days later bathes the same patient in a whirlpool style bath, the benefits of using the Storm Shower Chair are lost. The Storm Shower Chair is still the best way to eliminate UTI’s from long term care facilities, but they have to be properly utilized. Aside from the caregivers themselves, the Storm Shower Chair is the strongest link in the infection control chain, and like any chain, neglecting the weak link will break it.

This is the reason we have in-service videos on this site, so that a CNA with questions can watch a video from any smartphone, tablet, or computer, and get the answers he or she needs. New caregivers can learn how to use one of our chairs, and experienced CNA’s can refresh their skills, when needed. The Storm Shower Chair is easy to understand and use, but even the simplest of tools have to be used correctly.

Why We Are Here

Every company has to get out in the world, and meet their customers to be successful. Storm Showers LLC is no different. In fact, it is more important for us to bring ourselves and our products to you than it is for most companies. The Storm Shower Chair is unlike anything ever seen in the long term care industry.  It's a major innovation, and like most major innovations, it takes time for people to understand the importance of something that they never imagined before, no matter how useful it is. Remember life before the Internet? We got along fine before we ever logged on, but once we learned what the World Wide Web could do for us, we can't imagine life without it. That is what Storm Showers is bringing to the long term care industry.

The managers and head nurses and doctors at most nursing homes would never expect that one device can all but eliminate urinary tract infections from a facility. The Storm Shower Chair does that. Guaranteed. The patented split-seat design keeps the perineal area free from self and cross contamination during bathing, unlike whirlpool systems which are often a soup of infections waiting to happen.

That's why we are here. To let long term care providers and families know that there is a new way to help take care of loved ones. It's a way that will keep them healthier, happier, and more comfortable during their stay.