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Legionella - droplet of water

Dave Lancaster from Uponor, provider of total solutions for the safe transportation of water around buildings, discusses the importance of safeguarding patients and residents against the risk of Legionella.

Legionnaires' disease is a serious form of pneumonia, which can result in potentially fatal consequences for vulnerable patients and residents in your care and nursing homes. The illness is caused by Legionella bacteria which is widely distributed in natural water bases such as ponds and lakes , but can also breed in any stagnant water between 25 °C and 45 °C, including hot and cold-water systems.

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Legionella pneumophila close-up and a skeleton

Coroner Nicholas Rheinberg writes for Care & Nursing Essentials magazine about the cases he has experienced where Legionella caused the deaths of care home residents, and details his recommendations on how to reduce risks…

Should any of us have cause to consider the phenomenon of Legionnaires’ Disease we may possibly think of exotic locations abroad rather than anything that we might encounter locally. The very title conjures up pictures of desert scenes, perhaps with the odd palm tree thrown in for good measure. It may be only a few of us who associate the disease with an otherwise clean, well-run care home, nursing home or hospital. However, these are just the places where without proper precautions the legionella bacteria may thrive.

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Legionella virus

The term ‘care home’ may be used to describe a wide range of properties of varying size and complexity catering for people with a wide range of needs. Whilst care providers tend to specialise in a particular group or type of residents, the common factor is that these establishments provide residential accommodation in an environment that caters specifically for those who are less able to live independently and care for themselves. These include homes for the elderly, physically disabled, children with special needs and those with mental health needs. Nursing homes are a special type of care home with the ability to provide more advanced levels of medical care.

Care homes may be run independently or as part of a group. There are many commercially run homes but there are also homes run by charities and local authorities. Often care home managers are very specialised in the type of care provided, alternatively they may also have a more generalist managerial skill set. In both cases they are unlikely to possess a specialist knowledge in water systems safety.

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