Observational study of compliance with infection control practices among healthcare workers in subsidized and private residential care homes

Jessie Kit Ling Au, Lorna Kwai Ping Suen, Simon Ching Lam

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The elderly population in Hong Kong is rapidly growing, and the need for residential care homes (RCHs) is increasing. The risk of being infected with micro-organisms increases among the frail and the vulnerable elderly population as their immunity system begins to deteriorate. Furthermore, the residents in RCHs are at high risk of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) due to the confined living environments and individual co-morbidities. In relation to this, infection control practice (ICP) is considered a crucial and effective approach in preventing HAIs. This study aimed to observe the daily ICP of healthcare workers in RCH settings. Methods: An observational study was conducted to observe daily ICP among healthcare workers in private and subsidized RCHs. Each RCH was separated into different units based on the location (common area and bedroom area) and nature of residents for successive days. The ICP episodes were observed until 200 opportunities in each unit. The ICP episodes were recorded by an electronic tool called “eRub,” which is an ICP checklist based on international guidelines. Results: The most frequent observed ICP episodes were hand hygiene (n = 1053), the use of gloves (n = 1053) and respiratory protection (n = 1053). The overall compliance of hand hygiene was poor, with only 15% of participants performing this during the “five moments for hand hygiene.” Furthermore, the observations showed that 77.9% improperly performed the use of gloves, and 31.8% failed to wear a mask during the care provision for the elderly. However, the results showed that most healthcare workers can wear the mask in a proper way when they should. Generally, the personal care workers were the worst in terms of hand hygiene and use of gloves compared with the other types of healthcare workers. Conclusions: Despite the fact that the practice of hand hygiene, the use of gloves, and respiratory protection were the important elements of ICP, overall compliance to these elements was still poor. Personal care workers had the most frequent contact with the residents, but they had the worst compliance rate. Hence, continued monitoring and training among healthcare workers is needed, particularly personal care workers, in this healthcare service setting.

Original languageEnglish
Article number75
JournalBMC Infectious Diseases
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jan 2021


  • Hand hygiene
  • Healthcare workers
  • Infection control practice
  • Residential care homes
  • Respiratory protection
  • Use of gloves

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases


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