Owners and those with roles of responsibility in care homes have a legal duty for properly maintaining water systems and assessing them for risk.


Legionnaires’ disease is a condition that can be contracted from Legionella bacteria which is commonly found in water systems, cooling towers and spas/ pools. It can result in flu-like symptoms and pneumonia, and it can be life threatening. Those at higher risk of contracting the disease include the elderly, people with certain pre-existing conditions, smokers and heavy drinkers.


Care homes should take extra precautions due to the residents being vulnerable and more likely to be susceptible to infection. In 2009, the Care Quality Commission took over as regulator of residential care homes and have a responsibility to ensure care homes continue to uphold the guidance from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).


Here are some of the measures that duty holders of care homes should take to control the risk of Legionnaires’ disease.


Legionella Risk Assessments

Regular risk assessments are key in defining what risks are associated with the premises and may include a plan of action for reducing risk. A person in control of the premises can carry out the risk assessment themselves or get a third party such as a consultant to do so. The person who does the assessment needs to be competent.

 

The risk assessment should include:


  • ·Identifying who has management responsibility for the water system

  • ·A description of the water system

  • ·A list of potential risks

  • ·Controls that are currently in place to control risks

  • ·Procedures for monitoring and inspecting the system

  • ·A record of reviews and inspections

 

Controlling the Risks

It’s important to operate the systems in the care home as diligently as possible, in order to keep the growth of Legionella to a minimum.

 

Here are some of the ways you can prevent Legionella growth:


  • ·Keep the water system clean and flush it regularly so that water doesn’t stagnate and increase the chance of bacteria growth

  • ·Keep pipe lengths as short as possible to stop water stagnation

  • ·Maintain the correct water temperatures which should be below 20°C or above 60°C which will prevent the bacteria from growing

  • ·Treat water to kill Legionella or minimise it’s reproduction

  • ·Test water regularly, checking levels of bacteria

 

Water testing

The frequency of water testing should depend on the results of the regular risk assessments that take place. If certain risks are found to be present, you should test more frequently than usual until you are assured that the system is completely safe.

 

How to test hot water for Legionella

One of the easiest and most hassle free ways of testing water is by using a water Testing Kit from Smartwater Testing.

 

The kit can be ordered online and will be sent to you promptly. Once you have received it, you will need to collect the samples in the bottle(s) provided. After this, the samples should be sent back to the lab as soon as possible, so that our scientists can complete the testing process.

 

You can book a free courier to send the samples to us by emailing us or by going to www.smartwatertesting.co.uk/bookacollection. If you prefer, we can also provide a Freepost bag that you can drop off at a local Post Office.

 

Legionella samples are cultured in our laboratory which takes 10 days. Our laboratory is registered with the UK Accreditation Service, and follows strict guidelines set by the HSE.

 

You’ll get your verified results as quickly as possible – around 14 days after collection of the samples.

 

If the tests are clear, you’ll receive a Certificate to state your premises are Legionella-free. If they’re not, we can pass your results to water treatment specialists who can provide advice and assist you with getting your premises free of infection.

 

Expert Legionella Testing solutions

If you would like to find out more about Legionella Testing, contact the team at Smartwater Testing. Full discretion is assured, whatever the test results show up and although we only provide a test and report service, we do work with water treatment specialists. With your permission, we can forward your test results to them for their advice and recommendations. Get in touch to find out more and order your Testing Kit online today.