Professor Martin Green OBE is an Expert Advisory Council member for P&G Professional
and the Chief Executive of Care England
Social care has been on the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic and one of the saddest aspects has been that people have been unable to have physical contact with their family and loved ones. This isolation has been particularly difficult for people living with dementia and has had an enormous impact on the well-being of residents, their families and loved ones.
Physical contact is so important to maintain our sense of connection with others and our feelings of being wanted and needed. The pandemic has destroyed this, and as we move into a new phase in our battle with COVID-19, where the vaccination rollout has made things a little easier, we need to consider how we can restore our physical connection with the people we love, while at the same time maintaining people’s safety.
Touch is so much a part of the human experience and when this was snatched away from us by this dreadful virus, there is a void left, which we have all been desperate to fill, but we have to find ways of doing this which are safe and do not allow the return of the virus into care homes. The importance of physical contact is not only about the intimate moments we share with our families and friends – it goes way beyond that, and is so important to some of the cultural rituals that we have always taken for granted. Meeting people and shaking their hand, or giving them a peck on the cheek, was so much a part of our normal lives and the arrival of COVID-19 changed all this.
Central to our approach must be a clear regime of infection control and hygiene, and this will be the building blocks for reintroducing touch into care. If we can do this with a range of products that people are familiar with and have trust in, so much the better. Part of our hope is that if we use products that are proven to eradicate the COVID-19 virus but are also familiar to the people who live in care homes and their families, this will be a step on the road back to a more normal life.
Products such as Flash Professional are not only proven cleaning products and require little training for the cleaning teams to use effectively, but they are also well-known to residents and families. When you use brands that people use in their own home, the smells and the familiarity with them really help to create a sense of returning to normal. This is also true of products like Ariel Professional, which not only make sure that linen is clean, but has the familiar scent that people know and love, providing them with a sense of security and normality. These proven products give care homes the confidence that their environment is both clean and safe.
While COVID-19 has been the focus of our attention over the last two years, it is important to remember that other viruses also have an enormous impact on care homes and stop people from visiting. These include the SARS and flu viruses which pose a threat to our normal lives. Making sure that our cleaning regimes are consistent and that the products we use are familiar and effective is an important part of protecting our residents.
We are all desperate to return to something more like normal life and to be able to hug our loved ones, or greet someone with a handshake, but we must find ways of doing this safely and hygienically. The really good news is that there are a range of trusted professional-grade products from Ariel Professional and Flash Professional that will help us achieve this objective and give us the confidence to return to something more like normal life.