Caring for an Immunodeficient Patient
Earlier this year when my mother and I went to see my little sister in an isolation ward in a hospital, the sanitizing procedures the nurse made us do before we entered were really a little bit annoying.
I found myself rolling my eyes as I am not known for my patience. However, I now understand that these processes were necessary to prevent my sister from contracting an infection, as at the time her immune system was severely compromised.
The immune system defends the body from developing potentially harmful diseases and conditions caused by bacterial, parasitic, fungal and viral infections.
People who are at risk and are likely to have a compromised immune system would include, heart disease patients, diabetes sufferers, people on cancer treatments, HIV and TB (Tuberculosis) sufferers, organ transplant patients, and patients who have had any form of surgery. People with chronic illnesses, or an acute illness that seem to last for a long period of time, would also suffer from Immunodeficiency.
Whilst in hospital doctors and nursing staff should maintain the strictest hygiene standards around these patients. However, once these patients can go home to recuperate, the responsibility is then on friends and family to ensure that these hygiene standards are upheld.
Tips to ensure patients in your care do not contract infections.
Make sure everyone coming into contact with the patient adheres to strict hygiene rules!
1. Always Practice good hand hygiene, wash hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, dry with a clean towel.
2. Make sure nails are trimmed and clean. Nails can harbour dirt and germs and can contribute to the spread of infections.
3. Use a good quality, medical sanitiser preferably high in alcohol to sanitise hands and surfaces.
4. Be prepared to explain to the fussy traditional family members the importance of using hand sanitisers. Germs are everywhere and are easily spread, from touching money to touching the door handle or even a cell phone. Germs are found all around us in public places, they may not make us ill but exposing these germs to a person with a compromised immune system would be putting them at risk.
5. Ensure that the environment where the patient is being cared for is always sterile and clean. Household bleach is quick, easy and effective. Using disposable wipes to clean and sanitise surrounding areas will reduce the threat of spreading germs when cleaning with a dirty or improperly cleaned cloth.
6. Try to ensure and teach those around you to sneeze and cough into the upper part of their arm, and not into hands as we were once taught.
7. Make sure the hygiene hotspots around your home are regularly wiped down with a clean cloth that contains a disinfectant liquid or a disposable pre-saturated wipe. These hotspots include cell phones, light switches, the TV remote control, fridge handles, toilet handles, taps and door handles.
An infection can be a big setback to a patient with immunodeficiency. General common sense and basic good hygiene practices will go a long way to ensuring a quick recovery.
Practice Good Hygiene; Be Healthy; Be Happy! From Mama Gogga