Water hygiene services in care homes

Elderly women being guided by nurse in care home

Regular water hygiene services are essential to maintaining safe and clean water systems in the care sector.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC), an independent health and social care authority for the UK, has cracked down on care homes in recent years that haven’t implemented the correct systems for controlling legionella bacteria. 

The CQC conducts routine property inspections and one area of consideration under the health and safety of the homes includes checking the legionella risk assessments at care facilities across the nation to make sure they adhere to the most recent HSE regulations and guidelines. Once these assessments have been carried out the CQC ensures that facilities are undertaking the recommendations set out in the risk assessment to protect the occupants who are generally categorised as high-risk due to age and health.

Fulfilling a duty of care 

Water hygiene is of paramount importance in care homes due to its direct impact on the health and well-being of vulnerable residents. The elderly, and individuals with weakened immune systems, are more susceptible to waterborne infections and diseases. As such, these homes have a duty of care to their residents to manage water hygiene conscientiously and effectively. 

By prioritising water hygiene, care homes can reduce the risk of outbreaks, prevent infections and protect residents from potentially life-threatening illnesses. 

Care facilities must adhere to specific guidelines established by the CQC to comply with legal obligations. When conducting inspections, the CQC will evaluate certain aspects of premises, and businesses that fail to comply run a risk of failing and being fined or placed under special measures.

By law, every care facility has a responsibility to conduct routine, in-depth evaluations to assess the risk of exposure to legionella, hire a qualified expert to provide advice on how to reduce the threat of the bacteria, conduct ongoing monitoring and inspections, and maintain correct records of water systems. We can help clients through CQC inspections, so long as we can review their paperwork and all information is in place. 

Furthermore, a commitment to water hygiene fosters a sense of trust among residents and their families, assuring them that their loved ones are living in a safe and caring environment where health and safety are top priorities for those in charge. 

The importance of closely monitoring water quality 

If you manage a care home, closely monitoring water quality is an essential part of your responsibilities, as outlined in CQC standards under ACOP L8 and HSG 274.

Care home residents can be vulnerable to Legionnaires’ disease, a severe form of pneumonia caused by legionella bacteria that can grow in artificial water systems.

Regular testing for contaminants in the water is absolutely essential in preventing outbreaks and ensuring the water is safe for consumption and personal use. By prioritising proactive monitoring, you can uphold a high standard of care and foster a secure living environment by protecting residents from potential health risks.

How can Irrigonics help? 

At Irrigonics we proudly offer a range of water hygiene services and can assist you in the productive and conscientious management of water hygiene in a care home setting. 

Working in line with the legislative requirements for hot and cold water systems, we provide tailored water hygiene solutions to help businesses operating in the care sector stay compliant. 

Our team can work with you on a monthly, quarterly, six-monthly or annual basis. By working with our team of experts we can help you monitor your water systems, and we can offer the following services:

Legionella risk assessments

The most crucial phase of any water hygiene programme is conducting a legionella risk assessment. Our assessment will determine whether there is a risk of legionella bacteria in your water system that could expose members of staff and residents in your care facility to the disease. 

All care homes are required by law to have their water systems professionally monitored, and we can happily assist you in checking that box and ensuring that you are complying with the Health and Safety Commission’s Approved Code of Practice.

Water sampling and testing

Your water systems will be sampled by our specialist engineers, who will then submit the samples to an independent UKAS-accredited (ISO 9002) Quality Assured Laboratory. 

Positive results will then be reported to you immediately with recommendations and steps to control the problem. 

These samples can be taken for total viable count (TVC), coliforms, escherichia coli (e-coli), legionella pneumophila (all species), pseudomonas Spp and P. aeruginosa. 

Remedial works

As part of our remedial works, we complete a variety of solutions that are vital for protecting care home residents. This includes: 

  • Tank cleaning and system disinfection

Water tank cleaning is a crucial component of legionella prevention measures. It is essential to regularly clean and disinfect your tanks to avoid the growth of harmful bacteria in your water systems. Care homes are required to have this done on an annual basis. 

  • Thermostatic mixing valve (TMV) servicing

A thermostatic mixing valve (TMV) is a component of water systems that involves regulating the supplied temperature of hot water and it is essential for providing safe hot water. It plays a crucial role in reducing the risks associated with hot water in care homes such as scald risks. TMVs must ensure that water remains above 50 degrees prior to the TMV to prevent the growth of legionella bacteria but supplies the mixed hot water at the outlet, for example, the shower or tap, is between 39-44 degrees to prevent scald risk.

  • Shower head descale and disinfection

The descaling and disinfection processes are a necessity in care homes. The potential build-up of scale and biofilm on a shower head has the potential to lead to the growth of legionella bacteria and therefore should be serviced regularly.  

  • Annual legionella sampling

Although annual legionella sampling may not be mandated by law, it should be taken into consideration as a strategy to stop any outbreaks of the disease and protect the health and well-being of building residents. 

  • Hot water storage tank inspection

Hot water storage tanks should be inspected regularly to ensure that care facilities maintain high-quality water and are completely free from legionella bacteria. 

For professional, specialist water treatment solutions, contact us today

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