Care Home influenza outbreaks

Care Home influenza outbreaks

Public Health England have written to all care home managers in Kent to remind them that we are entering the influenza season.

Flu can be extremely serious for our elderly friends and family and can be misdiagnosed.  GPs can provide free flu jabs and our elderly friends and family can receive these free of charge to help minimise the risk of becoming unwell, but what happens if there is an outbreak in the care home in which they stay?

Whilst the care homes may be aware of what an outbreak and the procedures to deal with this, are you?

What are the symptoms of flu?

Fever of 37.8 C or above AND new symptoms or acute worsening of one of more of these:

Cough
Runny nose or congestion
Sore throat
Sneezing
Hoarseness
Shortness of breath
Wheezing
Chest pain

OR

A sudden decline in physical or mental ability without other known cause

What is an outbreak?

The definition of a flu outbreak is:

Two or more cases of flu-like illness within 48 hours

OR

Three or more cases within 72 hours

Which occur in residents and/or staff who are in close proximity to each other.

Care homes need to be aware of the residents who may become unwell and also their staff as they can act as carriers to the illness too.

If there is an outbreak of flu then the local health protection team must be notified as soon as an outbreak is suspected.  The local health protection team for Kent can be found in Ashford on 0344 225 3861 ext 1.  Visitors may be asked to stay away until the outbreak is contained or areas of a home may be closed to visitors if certain areas are experiencing problems.

If you have any worries that your friend or relative may be suffering with flu report your concerns to the care home manager who will take the appropriate action to minimise the spread and impact on the residents, staff and care home functioning.

Published by Kelly Duke 25 February 2016