Care homes have a uniquely difficult role to play in the fight against COVID-19. Here Danny Adamson, Managing Director at Stocksigns, explores the role of signage in keeping residents, families and staff safe, as the pandemic continues.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has affected everyone, but no sector has been hit as hard as the care sector with almost all residents falling amongst those most at risk.
While lockdowns and guidelines have been imposed on the wider population to stop the spread, it has not been easy to implement these in care homes.
Consistent social distancing is impossible where residents are reliant on close contact and assistance from staff with day to day tasks. Likewise, one-way systems are also a challenge.
Many older care home buildings are not set up to facilitate multiple routes in or out of a location. In addition, many residents will have memory problems or find adjustment to their usual route or routine difficult and hard to remember.
As a result, the preventive action taken in care homes is leaning heavily towards staff training and the implementation of technologies like air filtration. However, hygiene and limitation measures for both staff and residents are also crucial. Signage plays a key part in both aspects of protection.
It is important to provide guidance that will protect residents’ welfare but also staff and visitors. There are a number of signage ranges that should be installed to cover all three groups, reflecting their abilities, their possible exposure to the virus and the purpose of their presence in the facility. All signs should be installed between 1.2 and 1.5 metres above the ground so that they are clear to everyone.
Now more than ever, ensuring that adequate PPE reminder signage is in place for staff throughout a care facility is crucial. Should cleaning procedures have been changed or increased in regularity, reminder signage can also be used as a prompt for staff to follow the required cleaning methods.
For visitors, PPE is also often necessary. Signage which reminds visitors of this, but also shows them how to wear it would be appropriate to ensure those that may not be accustomed to wearing PPE – do so correctly. It is important to ensure that consistent signage is used at every entrance to ensure visitors know what is required of them.
Limitation signage (for number of people within a space such as a room or a lift) should be considered in facilities open to visitors. Signs inside and outside the restricted location provide clarity.
Look for signs that can adapt as the situation changes, and where the number of people permitted can be easily changed. ‘Residents only’ signs are also crucial to limit the contamination of certain areas that might be used by particularly high-risk residents.
Finally, hygiene signage pertaining to hand washing is important for all and should be implemented throughout a facility in all areas. Hand washing signs are now available to illustrate the government’s specific hand washing guidance. These are recommended particularly in areas used by staff and visitors to ensure that the correct technique and hygiene levels are maintained.
As COVID-19 levels fluctuate throughout the country, it is highly important that strict protection measures remain in place across care facilities, especially to those now open to visitors.
Signage can provide crucial reminders and prompts to staff and visitors as well as encouraging minimal congregation in facilities where social distancing is not always possible.”
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