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06 Aug 2019

Infection Control: Are Your Fabrics Spreading Infection?

Infection Control: Are Your Fabrics Spreading Infection?

In care environments - whether that’s a care home, hospice, or hospital - infection control is a crucial aspect of daily care, and a practical approach is taken to help ensure that harm does not come to patients and residents as a result of preventable infections. Of course, there are certain areas of infection control that can be slightly complex to work around in care environments, such as fabrics, for instance.

When equipment is purchased for care environments, it should always be purchased with infection control at the forefront of the mind. Reputable product suppliers will always provide equipment that is designed to limit infection and help make infection control easier. A common issue in care environments is the fabric used on seating as it can be difficult to keep seating clean and free from cross-contamination - it’s not like bedding that can be easily washed, seating is a completely different game when it comes to infection control.

Bearing that in mind, the question is: are your fabrics spreading infection? Read on for everything that you need to know about preventing the spread of infection in your care environment via fabrics.

Choose the right fabrics

As mentioned above, reputable suppliers will only use materials that are designed to reduce infection risk, so it’s essential that you are mindful of choosing the right suppliers for your care environment products. It’s vital to select the right fabrics that help prevent the spread of bacteria and infections - but how can you go about doing that?

The first step is to focus on the term ‘infection control’. There are a variety of systems and specific standards in place when it comes to patient care and safety, and following these is of key importance. The issue is that in care environments there is usually a large turnover of people receiving care, which means that there is an increased risk of infection spreading, and this is even more true when it comes to the use of fabric in these environments.

How to select a fabric: Durability is essential when it comes to choosing a fabric - chairs in care environments get a large amount of use and undergo a significant amount of stress, which causes fabric wear and tear. It’s also essential to choose strong fabric that will last - once a fabric has been ripped it is unable to be properly cleaned, which means that there’s a risk of infection spreading.

Cleaning instructions are key: When it comes to choosing a fabric, it’s essential to think about the cleaning process of that fabric. It’s important to select fabrics that are able to withstand regular, daily cleaning, and also that are compatible with the detergents and disinfectants that need to be used. It’s important that the fabric is also ‘fluid-resistant’ and non-porous, so that any spillages that occur can be easily and safely cleaned up.

What are the best fabrics: A key example of this type of fabric is microbial growth, a fabric that is similar to vinyl and can help to prevent the spread of bacteria. Whereas, fabrics that can hold moisture only add to growth of bacteria, increasing the infection risk. Vinyl also offers a tough exterior material that is waterproof and will help to prevent the spread of bacteria and infections. A key consideration when choosing a fabric is how they effect pressure relief - in care environments pressure relief should always be one of the top considerations. While vinyl is good for preventing the spread of infection, it does lack some of the properties for offering effective pressure relief. Instead, ideally a fabric that has a 4-way-stretch that moves with the resident is crucial, so that they feel the full benefits of the pressure relieving cushion underneath the fabric. Knowing which fabric is best is not an easy task - the key considerations must always be a fabric that is clean, durable, waterproof, and prevent the growth of bacteria, while aiding in the prevention of pressure ulcers.

Choosing the right fabric to prevent the spread of bacteria and infection in care environments is not always a simple or straightforward task. There are various factors that need to be carefully considered before a decision is made regarding the best option for your care facility.

At CLH, we have a wide range of options available and are always happy to talk you through the different options available, to help make the process of deciding on which fabric to purchase, slightly easier and less stressful. 

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