A new survey of U.S. adults with a friend or family member in a long-term care facility found that the risk of infection topped the list of concerns over the quality of care.

The spread of infections in long-term care facilities continues to be one of the biggest challenges facing the industry, according to Clorox Professional Products Company, who conducted the survey. Routine cleaning and disinfecting, however, plays a big role in helping maintain a healthy and comfortable environment.

Long-term care facilities are both a healthcare setting and a home for elderly, often immunocompromised, residents, which means staff are challenged with keeping them healthy and minimizing the spread of infections, while also maintaining a clean, comfortable and home-like environment.

Infections can easily lead to hospitalizations that expose elderly residents with weakened immune systems to dangerous pathogens and healthcare-acquired infections (HAIs). These not only impact their own health, but also have the potential to spread to fellow residents once the patient returns. According to research published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, norovirus outbreaks, in particular, were associated with significant concurrent increases in all-cause hospitalization and mortality in nursing homes.

"Infection prevention is extremely important, yet challenging in long-term care facilities," said Sherrie Dornberger, RN, executive director, The National Association of Directors of Nursing Administration/Long Term Care. "Residents live in close quarters and interact with clinical staff and often each other every day, which makes transmission of highly contagious germs like influenza, norovirus and even C. diff and MRSA quite easy. This can quickly lead to outbreaks and even hospitalizations. Effective staff education, cleaning protocols and having the right products on hand can make a big difference in minimizing the spread of infection."

Another challenge is maintaining facility cleanliness, including minimizing odors. Urine odors and stains present one of the toughest challenges when it comes to cleaning any facility, but in long-term care settings the problem is not limited to restrooms. The prevalence of incontinence means that urine and other bodily fluids can appear in a variety of settings – such as bedrooms, common areas and hallways, as well as on soft surfaces such as cushions, chairs and mattresses, the report says.

Understanding Consumer Perception of Long-Term Care Facilities
The results of the survey further underline the importance of maintaining a clean and healthy facility since cleanliness and the risk of infection are top concerns among consumers with a friend or family member in a long-term care facility. The survey found that:

— The majority of consumers cite overall cleanliness as a top factor influencing their decision in selecting a long-term care facility for a friend or family member (71%). 
— When it comes to the cleanliness of long-term care facilities, consumers are particularly concerned that soft surfaces are not given enough attention. Half of consumers surveyed say they are concerned that soft surfaces are not cleaned regularly at their loved one's long-term care facility (49%).
— Consumers also equate odor to a lack of cleanliness. More than two in five say that odor influenced their selection of a long-term care facility (44%).
— Infection prevention was also top-of-mind among four in five consumers who say they are concerned about the risk of infection (79%).
— One in five say they worry about a risk of infection because the facility does not smell clean (21%).
— Finally, more than two thirds of consumers say they would be more likely to enroll their loved ones in a long-term care facility if they knew the facility used Clorox products (68%).

"We understand the challenges long-term care facilities face and are committed to helping them in their efforts to keep infection rates and re-hospitalizations low, and enhance resident comfort through a clean, home-like environment," said Jennifer Case, marketing manager, Clorox Professional Products Company. "Our disinfecting products are trusted by hospitals, business owners and cleaning industry professionals alike to prevent the spread of infectious germs and keep their facilities clean. We are now proud to bring this high standard and commitment to long-term care."

Learn more about Clorox Professional and its products at www.CloroxProfessional.com/longtermcare.