Preventing urine odor in care facilities and nursing homes

The odor of urine can be an unpleasant side effect in any home or care facility where incontinence is a factor. Preventing odor is important for quality of life of residents and health care workers alike. Find out what causes urine odors and how good continence care can help prevent unpleasant odors.

When a home or nursing facility smells, it affects everyone who enters the building, including visitors and relatives, in addition to being  unpleasant and perhaps even embarrassing for the resident. It also creates a less than optimal working environment for the health care worker.  In worst case scenario, it results in less visits from family and diminished care. Combined, these factors affect the quality of life for residents, patients, and health care workers alike. In addition to the immediate effects of the bad odor, which are uncomfortable to live and work with, the lingering odor of urine is generally a symptom of something else wrong in the facility.

Making the home or care facility a comfortable place to live, work and visit is important, not just to ensure quality of life for everyone in the care facility, but also to ensure the facility remains odorless in the future.

What are the causes of unpleasant odor?

An occasional whiff of a bad odor, such as passing a room where someone is being changed, is normal, but constant odor indicates an underlying problem. In general, the cause for odor has to do with the care and cleaning routines in a home or facility.

When residents, linens and furniture in general are kept clean and dry, odor should not be a problem. This means resolving spills and leakages promptly and using the correct combination of incontinence products.

If a resident is experiencing smelly urine, they should be checked for underlying health reasons that may be causing the odor.

Prevention versus removal

Any nursing home or care facility should have a strategy for preventing and removing odor. This strategy should center on removing and preventing the sources of the odor. Unless the focus is on prevention, the odor will continue to be a problem, and will continue to get worse.

Many options exist for creating an odorless environment, starting with a check of existing continence care routines. Maintaining cleaning and hygiene procedures as well as applying holistic continence care routines are essential for preventing odor

Cleaning and hygiene routines

Disinfection and cleaning agents are the first line of defense against odor. If there are issues with cleanliness or hygiene, these must be dealt with first, before being followed by actions to cover the odor.

Most care facilities have established cleaning and hygiene routines and procedures, but if odor is a problem, it may be time for an evaluation of these routines and the involved products.

Odor neutralizer and deodorizer

While efforts surrounding odor should be aimed at prevention rather than at covering up the smell, using products such as odor neutralizers or deodorizers can be part of the effort in a care facility at maintaining a pleasant odor. Not all odor can be removed immediately by cleaning and disinfecting, so odor-control products should be used as a tool in an overall odor strategy.

Correct waste and disposal

When it comes to  incontinence products or leaked urine and feces that may smell, the first step is always to clean and properly dispose of them. This includes soiled incontinence products, bed protection, gloves and cleansing products. Easy disposal of waste and packaging can be considered as part of the care routines and as part of the selection process when choosing new cleaning, waste management or incontinence products for your facility.

Good care routine for an odorless home

Correct use of continence products are essential in preventing odor as an extra line of defense against leaks that cause odor.

Choosing and using the correct incontinence product

Choosing the right combination of continence products and applying them in continence care routines is another important factor. This includes choosing the right size, type and absorbency level in the actual continence product, to associated products such as fixation pants and protective bedding.

A number of factors go into choosing the right incontinence product, including lifestyle, gender and type of incontinence.  Using the wrong size, whether too small or too big, makes a user more prone to leaks.

It is essential to change the incontinence product often and as needed and following application guides to make sure the product is used correctly.

Bed protection

Bed protection adds an extra layer of security for the occasional leak or for patients who move around a lot in their sleep, and is an inexpensive method of protecting furniture that is expensive and difficult to replace if damaged.

Use bed protection and couch rolls to prevent damage and odor. Fecal or urine leaks on furniture or bedding can be a source of bad odor if it is not thoroughly cleaned and disinfected, so if something does manage to leak on the furniture, the source of the smell should be thoroughly cleaned, steam-cleaned or replaced. This is expensive when it comes to more permanent fixtures such as furniture, mattresses, and carpeting, which is why bed protection is an economical choice for extra protection.

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