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Published on 12 November 2019 14:35

Understanding Infection Control with the use of Carpets

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Key Learning outcomes
  • Gain an understanding of why carpets shouldn’t be considered as a hotpsot for the spread of infections
  • Appreciate that carpets are no more susceptible to contamination by fungi and bacteria than any other surfaces within a healthcare environment
There is a common misconception that there can be infection control issues with having carpet within healthcare settings including residential care homes and mental health facilities. This CPD Article looks at various studies and research findings around some of the common misconceptions of the use of carpets within non-clinical healthcare environments with a focus on infection control and cleaning. danfloor's research failed to discover any papers advising against the use of carpeting in non-clinical healthcare facilities, including bedrooms in mental health units. Infact there are many theraputice benefts to having a soft flooring finish within care environments including; creating an acoustically sound environment, improved air quality, increased comfort under foot and that all important home from home feeling.

1.0 Do carpets create a hot spot for the spread of infections?

Within care environments, especially mental health facilities, infection prevention and control teams have an input into the specification of floor coverings. Often these advisors come from a clinical NHS background and apply their expertise and experience to their recommendations for non-clinical environments, which are very different care facilities and require a different approach to interior design.

As previously mentioned, there are many therapeutic benefits to using carpet within care environments so if you do encounter an opinion that carpets create a hot spot for the spread of infection, then it’s useful to site research by Dr Stephanie Dancer from NHS Lanarkshire.

Dr Dancer found that the most common MRSA sites within hospitals were that of bed linen, gowns and tables, items that people come into direct contact with on a regular basis, rather than floors. Dr Dancer states “Visual assessment is no longer acceptable for grading hygiene . . . Locating the site of potential pathogens is an area that requires further work. Prioritizing the cleaning of floors and toilets is not necessarily the answer to controlling hospital-acquired infection (HAI). Pathogens are delivered to patients on hands, and … prioritising hand-touch sites might be more appropriate to consider when directing cleaning schedules.” to combat the spread of such infectious diseases.

Dr Dancer calls “for extra attention to be given to sites which might look "clean" but were likely to harbour germs. One study found that even when up to 91% of a hospital's wards seemed visibly clean, they were only 30 to 45% microbially clean.”

Proffesor Dr Markus Dettenkoffer, who in 2013 was the acting Director of the institute of Environmental Medicine and Hospital Hygiene, stated in response to Dr Dancers findings that “Floors and walls are not critical surfaces – these types of surfaces are in fact hardly ever the source of nosocomial infections – but objects and surfaces with frequent hand contact are.”
Hard flooring may appear clean to the eye but isn’t always clean. The owner of this floor thought the black spots were part of the design – it was in fact dirt.
Hard flooring may appear clean to the eye but isn’t always clean. The owner of this floor thought the black spots were part of the design – it was in fact dirt.
 
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