Do Christmas decorations pose an infection risk? What do you think?
Christmas is a particularly emotive and difficult time for patients to be in hospital and anything that can help in trying to make it a little easier is important.
However, Christmas decorations in clinical areas are a challenge for several reasons i.e. health and safety, fire hazard and infection prevention and control.
Although there is little available evidence either way from an infection prevention and control perspective they have the potential for harbouring dust.
Therefore, they can make cleaning difficult particularly in the event of norovirus outbreaks which are particularly challenging at this time of year. In this event staff would have to be prepared to take down and dispose of decorations as part of the outbreak cleaning protocol.
A common sense approach and discussions with Health and Safety/Fire Advisors/Infection Prevention and Control and staff in clinical areas staff should ensure that suitable decorations can be agreed and placed in appropriate locations.
For example, most trusts advice against using Christmas trees with soil, glass baubles, tinsel, cloth toys or anything that is a fire/health and safety risk or cannot be cleaned or disposed of in accordance with trust policy.
It is important to ensure decorations are suitable for use in mental health and paediatric wards from a health and safety perspective. In mental health and the elderly, decorations are good for orientating patients to time and place.
Julie Hughes is a Nurse Consultant Infection Control/Lecturer, 5 Boroughs Partnership NHS Foundation Trust/University of Chester.