The Effect Of Clostridium Difficile (C-Diff) In Care Homes


According to people over the age of 65 today have a 70% chance of needing long term care at some point during the rest of their life. Having to move into a care home is a big fear for many older people, with some citing concerns of loneliness or loss of independence, and many others concerned about their chances of getting ill whilst they are there.

Sadly, it is not uncommon for people living in care homes, or entering hospital, to pick up specific illnesses or bacteria, thanks to the high numbers of people and the easy spread of illness in these environments. One of these threats is Clostridium Difficile, a type of bacteria also known as C-Difficile or C-Diff, that spreads efficiently and devastatingly in care homes.

Between 2004 and 2006, c-diff was responsible for the deaths of 90 patients in Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells hospitals, when an outbreak occurred in the area. In researching the bacteria, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found that the majority of deaths involving c-diff occur among old people, and the chances of contracting it increase sharply with age.

According to their study, during 2010 – 2012, the mortality rate for people with c-diff who were aged 85 years plus was 812 deaths per million, compared with just 235 deaths per million in those aged between 75 and 84.

The ONS summarised that a number of factors contributed to this, including the weaker immune systems of older people, increased antimicrobial use, and higher exposure to hospitals and care homes.

What Is Clostridium Difficile?

Clostridium Difficile is a resilient type of bacteria that predominantly affects the bowel and causes diarrhea. It is common in people that have recently been treated with antibiotics, and is easily spread from person to person.

The bacteria can be found in the feces of an infected person, and spreads through contact with contaminated fecal matter. Whilst it may be difficult to understand how this could be easily spread, it is actually very easy if healthcare workers do not wash their hands properly, or if hospital rooms and other common areas are not thoroughly cleaned and disinfected after an infected person has been there.

Tiny droplets of contaminated fecal matter may also be present in toilets, and this can easily aid transmission to other people.

Symptoms Of C-Diff

As mentioned previously, c-diff is most common in people that are currently, or have recently been, taking antibiotics.

The most common symptoms include:

  • Diarrhea that occurs several times in a day
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Stomach pain
  • Dehydration

Why Is C-Diff So Common In Care Homes?

There are a number of reasons that c-difficile could be more prevalent in care homes, with one of these being that the people who live there are much more likely to be taking antibiotics at one time or another. Antibiotic use is a factor for c-difficile due to the fact that some antibiotics interfere with the balance of the natural bacteria found in the bowel. This causes c-diff bacteria to multiply, producing toxins and causing illness.

Once an infected person suffers from diarrhea, the bacteria in the fecal matter is able to transform into resistant cells called spores, which are able to survive for a long time on hands and clothing, as well as surfaces such as toilets and sinks.

Care homes not only have more people on antibiotics, but they also have higher concentrations of people in small spaces, making it easy for the bacteria to spread if thorough cleaning and containment measures are not put into place right away.

What Precautions Can Caregivers Take?

  • Caregivers and medical staff should observe strict handwashing procedures every day, and after working with each individual resident.
  • Strict handwashing and cleaning procedures must also be observed by visitors, including friends and family.
  • Those taking antibiotics should avoid visits or work to ensure that they don’t catch, and thus contribute to the spread of, c-diff
  • Surfaces and fabrics should be cleaned with a bleach-based solution to more effectively kill potential c-diff spores.

Healthcare facilities and care homes should be aware that an outbreak of c-diff could be well underway before they realise that this is happening, by which time it may be almost impossible to contain. For this reason, strict cleaning and handwashing protocols must be observed at all times, not just when someone is sick.

When a patient is sick, it is useful to provide gloves and gowns for any workers who are taking care of this individual, as an extra layer of protection.

Air Purification And C-Difficile

Air purifiers, such as the Airius PureAir, provide an extra layer of protection against dangerous bacteria such as c-diff and other viruses. Whilst some air filtration systems merely move air around, or capture dangerous particles and bacteria within the unit itself, the PureAir is able to clean the air using a Photohydroionization (PHI) Cell from RGF Environmental, one of the worlds leading specialists in air, water and food purification. This unique technology uses a broad spectrum ultraviolet light to produce a natural cleaning agent known as ionised Hydroperoxides.

How Do Hydroperoxides Remove Pathogens?

Ionised Hydroperoxides are a group of oxidants that have been a part of our natural environment for more than 3.5 billion years. They are responsible for the ‘clean air’ smell we enjoy after thunderstorms, and effectively but naturally neutralise everything from the common cold to serious dangers such as MRSA, Streptococcus, Bird Flu, Swine Flu, Candida Albicans, and SARS as well as up to 99%+ of other pathogens in the air.

Oxidation is the same process that causes metal to rust in the open air. Oxygen combines with the metal at an atomic level, changing the chemical make up of the metal so as to permanently weaken it. Oxidation works in a similar way for pathogens, affecting the DNA and the enzymes of the pathogen in such a way as to cause cellular disruption that inactivates them immediately.

Hydroperoxides attack pathogens and other harmful particles quickly and effectively, removing them from the air without causing any harm to humans, unlike the damage that many other types of oxidants could cause.

This Air Purification Technology is also famed for effectively removing instead of masking odours, creating a fresh and healthy environment that makes care homes feel more comfortable for residents, staff and visitors alike.

Contact Airius

To find out how our PureAir technology can make your care home a safer and more pleasant place to be, by removing unpleasant odours and killing dangerous pathogens both in the air and on surfaces – then contact us on 01202 554 200 or by sending us an email at