Those who require hospice care need to feel cared for and provided as much comfort and relief as possible. Therefore, any and all efforts that can be used in pursuit of this standard are essential for their well-being. Antimicrobial care is one way to help provide aid and ease for those in hospice. Before we address how, let’s first expound on what antimicrobials are.
Antimicrobial products are meant to eliminate or prohibit the multiplication of all microorganisms. Potentially harmful microorganisms include bacteria, fungi, and viruses. Antibiotics are part of the family of antimicrobial products; they focus solely on inhibiting bacterial growth or eliminating unhealthy bacteria within the body.
To put it succinctly, antimicrobials target all microbes while antibiotics only target bacteria.
With that information in mind, listed below are four helpful suggestions for how to use antimicrobial care to improve comfort in hospice; however, be sure to contact your doctor before using any microbial product for those in hospice care.
Disinfectants are antimicrobials because they kill germs and other bacteria on external surfaces. Using them for a hospice patient is essential to care for their health. When the area around the hospice patient is clean and sanitized, germs are killed and their growth is slowed down.
Infections are a common cause of discomfort to those in hospice; hence killing germs and other microbes are top priority when caring for any hospice patient but especially those who may be immunocompromised. Whatever condition is causing the critical illness is likely uncomfortable already, and adding an infection to that will only make it worse.
There is a high impact of sanitizing and disinfecting surfaces. Some antimicrobial disinfectants to utilize are:
- Disinfecting wipes
- Antimicrobial pesticides
- Kitchen cleaning agents
- Laundry Detergents
- Sanitizers for toilet bowls
Using these disinfectants can be a huge antimicrobial asset for improving comfort in hospice.
Administer Antibiotics (if feasible)
Antibiotics, as previously discussed, kill a variety of harmful bacteria inside the body. This practice proves to be very advantageous for overall health.
However, when it comes to administering antibiotics, it greatly depends on the person who is acquiring hospice care. It is an agreement based on the patient or whoever is legally in charge of making resolutions that are best for their health. Therefore, this suggestion is situational and isn’t always an option.
When taken, there are many benefits to using antibiotics for antimicrobial care, which include:
- Taking care of uncomfortable infections (if any)
- Prevention of infection development
- Symptom control (depending on the patient and condition)
- They are very effective and typically work well
If antibiotics are the best course of action for the patient, it is a very effective method for antimicrobial care.
Properly Use Antiseptics
As previously mentioned, antibiotics are used to target the prevention and elimination of bacteria, but an antiseptic is differentiated by being an antimicrobial that is used topically to eliminate all microbes. They are commonly used for minor cuts, abrasions, and sores. More specific antimicrobials are needed for deep wounds.
In the case of hospice patients, it is important to use antiseptics when there is a risk of infection. This is because if it isn’t treated, it will almost certainly cause an infection. Additionally, even if they are used when an injury isn’t present, it still prevents the risk of infection.
Great examples of antiseptics to use often (when there is no wound) include:
Examples of antiseptics to use for minor injuries:
- Rubbing alcohol
- Hydrogen Peroxide
- Antibacterial dye (for burns)
All of these have great uses and are very effective for antimicrobial care and comfort in hospice.
Use Antimicrobials Correctly
All of the previous suggestions are very effective usages of antimicrobials in hospice care, and can provide increased comfort. However, the effectiveness goes down if the antimicrobials aren’t used correctly. In fact, it could even be potentially hazardous.
For example, disinfectants need to be handled correctly, especially around those who are in hospice. Sanitizers and disinfectants often have harsh or strong chemicals. If they aren’t used correctly, they can be potentially harmful. This is because improper use may cause a burning sensation and pain when they come into contact with skin; additionally, breathing in these chemicals is often dangerous. So, when disinfecting in hospice, be sure to closely review and follow all the guidelines on any disinfectant product.
The same goes for using antiseptics. Misuse can make them either completely ineffective or it can be harmful to the skin. If ingested, it can be toxic and especially dangerous to those in hospice. So having the skills and knowledge of how to use antiseptics is paramount when caring for those who may not be able to care for themselves.
Antibiotics are slightly different because they are always prescribed by doctors. However, if one doesn’t follow the prescription and dosages exactly, antibiotics can be harmful for anyone and doubly so for hospice patients.
Improving comfort with antimicrobial care is very important for hospice patients. This can be done by using disinfectants, antibiotics, and antiseptics. You can even use antimicrobial equipment like a line of antimicrobial laundry carts. It’s also crucial to know how to use these antimicrobials for safety. All these suggestions will help hospice patients and responsibly increase their comfort. However, be sure to follow the directions of your doctor and contact them before using any antimicrobial product for those in hospice care.