How to prevent infection in a caregiving environment

Many of the challenges that caregivers encounter are among the factors that put people at an increased risk of becoming infected with colds, flu, respiratory infections, gastrointestinal infections, AIDS, and other contagious diseases. These factors include poor nutrition, chronic conditions, stress, fatigue, dehydration, and poor personal hygiene. Note that these, like infections, can affect the caregiver as well as the care receiver, but it is the former’s responsibility to protect both. This goal can be accomplished with a few simple measures.

Infection control in a caregiving environment

Wash your hands:

  • Before and after caring for your loved one’s body, and after using the bathroom.
  • After removing gloves or other protective equipment.
  • Before cooking and after handling raw meat, poultry, or fish.
  • After eating or smoking.
  • Immediately after hand contact with blood or other body fluids or feces
  • Regularly during the day.

Wear disposable gloves when in direct contact with:

·         Blood.

·         Infectious materials.

·         Mucous membranes.

·         Non-intact skin.

·         Surfaces contaminated with blood or other infectious materials.

·         Also wear them if you have open cuts, sores, or dermatitis on your hands.


·         Treat laundry as contaminated if it is soiled with body fluids or potentially infectious materials.

·         Wear gloves and wash items in water with detergent and bleach solution.


·         Wash dishes with hot water and soap.

·         Consider adding a bit of chlorine bleach to the final rinse water for extra disinfection.

·         Soak dishes, glassware, and eating utensils in this solution for at least 60 seconds, rinse again in hot running water, and air-dry.

Kitchen/Work surfaces

·         Sanitize counter tops, refrigerators, freezers, and other work surfaces with the bleach solution.

·         Wear gloves if your hands will be in frequent or extended contact with the bleach solution.

·         Check the bleach label for directions and warnings.

Bedpans and commodes

·         Clean bedpans and commodes regularly with soap, water, and bleach solution.

Waste disposal

·         Disposable items such as tissues, paper towels, diapers, etc., should be handled with disposable gloves and discarded.

·         All infectious body wastes and contaminated items should be placed in leak-resistant containers, tied shut, and placed in a second plastic bag before discarding.

·         Label the bag ‘contaminated items’.

·         Follow local regulations for solid waste disposal.

·         The normal trash pickup by the city or county is often appropriate unless there is liquid blood.

·         Flush feces down the toilet.

Sharps disposal

·         Place disposable syringes, needles, blades and other sharps in a sharps container.


It goes without saying that all of these and other medical supplies for home care are available at Discount Medical Supplies.

Related: The “I” factor in infection control