The idea of cleaning computers and mobile devices is a relatively new one. Not all that long ago, aged care facilities relied on pen and paper for reporting, assessing, checking and monitoring information.
Today, computers and mobile devices, just like microbes, are ubiquitous. They continue to have an expanded existence in our daily lives. Over the past decade, the aged care industry has moved to implement electronic care and medication management systems. Aged care staff use computers and mobile devices daily to gain instant access to critical information—from real-time lab and X-Ray results, to progress notes or verification of the 5 rights of medication administration at a resident’s bedside.
Aged care staff use keyboards frequently in residential care areas, nurses’ stations, administration, common areas and managers’ offices. Also, during COVID-19 lockdowns, residents were encouraged to use mobile devices to keep in touch with their families. Along with the many vital benefits these devices provide, it has become clear that the use of keyboards, mouse and mobile devices is a potential source of cross-contamination.
Are you aware of how many times a day you handle your mobile phone, computer and mouse during your shift?
Why cleaning computers and mobile devices is important
- Keyboards, mouse, and mobile devices are high-touch areas that are often used by multiple people. That is why they become ideal places for bacteria to stay, hide and grow.
- One leading cause of bacterial contamination of computer equipment in the non-hospital setting is through eating while working on the office computer. Some food crumbs and spills can drop on and between the keyboard keys and on the mouse buttons.
- As mobile devices travel from resident rooms to nurse stations, dining areas, and other facility environments, the risk of spreading infections increases exponentially. If computers are not routinely disinfected, the transmission of contaminating microorganism is potentially far greater.
- Many residents move in and out of the hospital regularly. In hospital, they may have a visiting friend or loved one scroll through photos on a phone or tablet. When they leave the hospital, they may carry multiple-resistant staph bacteria on their touchscreen. A research paper circulated by the American Journal of Infection Control showed that approximately 40% of visitor and patient phones contained pathogenic bacteria.
How should we clean?
As high-touch areas with multiple users, computer keyboards, mice and mobile devices are cross-contamination zones in clinical environments. There are currently no specific standards for disinfecting and cleaning computers and mobile devices in the aged care setting. The current guidelines on how to clean and disinfect shared equipment between users can be found in the Australian Guidelines for the Prevention and Control of Infection in Healthcare (2019). By following standardised, evidence-based infection control practices, aged care facilities can reduce the incidence of infections.
Recommendations to reduce contamination risks include staff education, strict hand hygiene measures and procedures for cleaning computers, keyboards, mice and mobile devices.
The world continues to fight infectious microorganisms and viruses, so it is important to remember to:
- Wash your hands before and after using computer equipment,
- Avoid eating at your desk or drinking near the keyboard so as not to spill food or liquid on technology, and
- Regularly clean computers, mice and mobile devices.
Using information technology in residential aged care should bring the benefits without compromising residents’ and aged care workers’ safety.
If we cannot escape the use of computers and mobile devices in the aged care setting. It’s therefore crucial that we know how, and how often, to clean and disinfect it. Our policy and procedure manuals supply expert advice on cleaning and disinfecting, tailored specifically to the aged care setting. Read more about what Bug Control’s policy manuals can offer you and your facility.