We’ve moved into the ‘post-pandemic’ phase of Covid-19, and, with the vast majority of public health guidelines now removed, for many it’s beginning to seem like it never happened at all. But nursing home operators won’t easily forget the impact that the virus had on their business, in the most challenging days of their careers.
Faced with a rampant virus that took its worst toll among their very client base, as well as total confusion over what caused transmission, and tragically mixed messaging from various authorities, their success in keeping so many residents safe and well is a triumph in the history of older persons’ care. And they did so, while juggling endlessly changing guidelines and daily staff shortages as workers across all disciplines succumbed to the virus too.
Special guidelines covering all manner of risks, such as which masks should be worn, how linen should enter and exit the laundry, or what to do if a staff member chose not to be vaccinated – all had to be communicated and re-communicated to burnt-out staff. This, while anxious family members were seeking out other care options for their loved ones, such as home care, impacting revenue for nursing home operators dealing with a set of circumstances they’d done nothing to create.
The only excuse
Incredibly, air quality and ventilation were largely reduced to footnotes on these reams of guidelines. The only excuse for this can be the lack of understanding around transmissibility of Covid-19. And even then, this could only be credible in the early days of the crisis.
Almost two years into the pandemic, and thousands of scientific papers later, the WHO finally acknowledged that Covid-19 was mainly transmitted via infected droplets in the air.
On December 23, 2021, it said:
“Current evidence suggests that the virus spreads mainly between people who are in close contact with each other, for example at a conversational distance. The virus can spread from an infected person’s mouth or nose in small liquid particles when they cough, sneeze, speak, sing or breathe.
“Another person can then contract the virus when infectious particles that pass through the air are inhaled at short range (this is often called short-range aerosol or short-range airborne transmission) or if infectious particles come into direct contact with the eyes, nose, or mouth (droplet transmission).
“The virus can also spread in poorly ventilated and/or crowded indoor settings, where people tend to spend longer periods of time. This is because aerosols can remain suspended in the air or travel farther than conversational distance (this is often called long-range aerosol or long-range airborne transmission).”
Air quality concern among families
Thus, ensuring good quality air is a form of infection control which is just as important as sanitisation or wearing PPE.
Indoor air quality has become paramount to keeping older people safe and well from Covid-19 or similar infections, offering a better quality of life to residents in nursing homes or other congregated settings.
And indoor air quality monitoring is a growing concern among people who use services delivered in indoor settings, including family members making decisions over where to house their ageing loved ones.
Today, nursing homes are rebounding from the loss in business resulting from fear and anxiety over congregated care. The home care sector capitalised during the pandemic, but now new, high-end care homes are opening their doors, and armed with the experience and learnings of the pandemic, they are looking beyond the regulator’s prescriptions, and introducing new and innovative measures to protect resident health and safety.
ZiggyAir is once such measure.
ZiggyAir is a cost-effective solution that helps care workers understand when ventilation levels are safe, or when simple action is required to improve air quality, such as opening windows.
Clients can access real-time data on air quality through our cloud platform, and we provide a customised monthly report too. This gives management valuable data for monitoring air quality in each room, including communal areas, and provides an audit trail on ventilation performance.
This knowledge increases comfort for residents and it can also save on heating bills by ensuring windows are open only when they need to be.
The service can also be an important differentiator in the competitive older persons care sector, reassuring family members that management take the health and wellbeing of their loved ones very seriously, while providing residents with additional peace of mind.
And that is something every family and their loved ones deserve. Let’s never forget the heart-breaking scenes in nursing homes in the worst days of the pandemic. Families unable to visit their ailing loved ones, or hold their hands in their final moments. Birthdays celebrated – as far as they could be – through panes of window glass. Staff and families grieving over the untimely loss of beloved residents.
Now that we know the true impact of air quality in Covid-19 transmission, and now that we have the tools and systems available to do something about it, surely we can say with confidence, “never again”?
To find out how easy and cost-effective it is to add indoor air quality services to your residential care offering, contact us for a free, no obligation consultation today