Disinfection is an important factor in the operation of senior care communities. It is particularly crucial in skilled nursing facilities where residents are prone to illness. Harsh chemical cleaning agents are no longer ideal for sanitizing. Health care facilities are adopting ultraviolet light systems to assist with disinfection requirements.
Why is disinfection important?
Proper cleaning is necessary to prevent the spread of various illnesses and diseases. Not only is it essential for the residents, but it also helps protect caregivers who work with high-risk and sick individuals.
What is UV disinfection?
Ultraviolet light is invisible to the human eye. The sun emits large amounts of this light, but most of it is absorbed by Earth’s ozone layer. Such light has the capacity to kill bacteria, viruses, and protozoa. Exposing air, water, and surfaces to UV light has proven to eliminate dangerous microorganisms. A recent study provides an interesting insight into this process.
- Deactivates microorganisms within seconds
- Environmentally friendly, having no dangerous byproducts or chemicals
- Low maintenance, easy to use
- Adaptation – The primary drawback of UV disinfection is that cells can evolve and adapt to this type of irradiation. It is a complex process, and research is being performed to help prevent and understand it.
- Shadow areas – UV light disinfection works by line of sight. This means that if an object is blocked from the light, it will not be affected. It is commonly referred to as the shadow effect. It can be overcome by moving the light source or objects so that adequate UV rays reach the intended areas.
Humans should not be exposed to UV light. It can damage eyes and skin. People cannot be in a room while it is being cleaned with an ultraviolet light source. The light cannot penetrate glass, so it is possible to observe a UV sanitation system through a window or glass door.
Does UV disinfection kill all microorganisms?
The answer to this question really depends on the exact UV wavelengths and the amount of exposure. Some microorganisms are difficult to deactivate and require longer amounts of time exposed to the UV light source. Additionally, certain bacteria are only killed by specific wavelengths. That being said, with the correct UV light source, most bacteria, viruses, and protozoa can be eradicated. This includes C difficile, commonly known to be difficult to kill. On the other hand, UV disinfection does not damage staff, also known as MRSA.
Intelligent room UV disinfection systems
Because people cannot be in the room while it is being disinfected with UV light, these systems utilize autonomous robots. Several companies manufacture these devices. It takes approximately 15 minutes for a robot to disinfect a room. The robots navigate the space to reduce the impact of the shadow effect. They also have the ability to focus on germ hot spots like sinks and high-traffic surfaces.
UV disinfection may not eliminate the need for traditional cleaning; most experts agree that this procedure is best used in combination with conventional disinfection methods. As research continues, and as we learn more about the potential of UV light, we likely will see more of these systems being implemented in the senior care industry.