Like a good boy scout ….. Be prepared

Norman Davies1

1Juniper, P.O Box 810, Balcatta, Western Australia, 6914,


Older adults living in residential aged care facilities (RACFs) are generally more susceptible to infections due to a number of factors including age related immunosenescence, comorbidities and shared living conditions.

Outbreaks of infectious diseases in RACFs therefore are not uncommon, and have financial and logistical impacts on facilities as well as an impact on residents and staff. A number of infectious agents have been implicated with many outbreaks being associated with seasonal conditions, although unseasonal outbreaks have been reported.

Numerous factors may influence the way in which outbreaks progress, and evidence is emerging to demonstrate that rapid identification and prompt implementation of infection control procedures can significantly reduce the duration and impact of outbreaks. There are reports of high levels of “presenteeism” in healthcare, with a variety of reasons being given by staff for attending work when unwell, although little research has been undertaken in the aged care sector. The role of staff play in the exacerbation of outbreaks by attending work when unwell is something that is possibly underestimated.

While preparedness and prevention are vital, this paper will discuss the most common causes and management of outbreaks in RACFs, and discuss the phenomenon of presenteeism in the aged care industry, especially in Western Australia. It will also examine strategies that could be implemented to reduce the duration and impact of outbreaks in RACFs.

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