Increasingly healthcare is being delivered at home and in the community. This arises from e.g.
- shorter hospital stays
- home-based treatments such as chemotherapy, dialysis etc
Much of this healthcare is delivered by family members who thus require a good understanding of hygiene
This includes protection from intestinal and respiratory infections (i.e food hygiene and respiratory hygiene), as well as protection from infections associated with their particular condition
Governments are now emphasising infection prevention as a means to reduce health spending.
Increased homecare is a favoured approach, but gains are likely to be undermined by inadequate infection control at home.
Tackling antibiotic resistance is a global priority which involves home and community as well as hospitals. Hygiene is now seen as a central strategy to reducing antibiotic resistance :
Firstly, by reducing the burden of infectious diseases, hygiene can reduce the need for antibiotic prescribing, which is the major underlying contributor to antibiotic resistance
Secondly, infection control measures are important to reduce spread of antibiotic resistant infections in the community.
Thirdly, as persistent nasal , gut or skin carriage of resistant strains increase in the healthy population, the risk of resistant infections in both hospital and community increases
Prevalence of antibiotic resistant strains
A 2012 UK study of 732 healthy people in the community showed that 11.2% were carrying antibiotic resistant ESBL strains in their stools.
A significant proportion of healthcare infections are “self infections” from our own body flora