Developing evidence-based guidance for assessment of suspected infections in care home residents

BMC Geriatr. 2020 Feb 14;20(1):59. doi: 10.1186/s12877-020-1467-6.


Background: The aim of this study was to update and refine an algorithm, originally developed in Canada, to assist care home staff to manage residents with suspected infection in the United Kingdom care home setting. The infections of interest were urinary tract infections, respiratory tract infections and skin and soft tissue infection.

Method: We used a multi-faceted process involving a literature review, consensus meeting [nominal group technique involving general practitioners (GPs) and specialists in geriatric medicine and clinical microbiology], focus groups (care home staff and resident family members) and interviews (GPs), alongside continual iterative internal review and analysis within the research team.

Results: Six publications were identified in the literature which met inclusion criteria. These were used to update the algorithm which was presented to a consensus meeting (four participants all with a medical background) which discussed and agreed to inclusion of signs and symptoms, and the algorithm format. Focus groups and interview participants could see the value in the algorithm, and staff often reported that it reflected their usual practice. There were also interesting contrasts between evidence and usual practice informed by experience. Through continual iterative review and analysis, the final algorithm was finally presented in a format which described management of the three infections in terms of initial assessment of the resident, observation of the resident and action by the care home staff.

Conclusions: This study has resulted in an updated algorithm targeting key infections in care home residents which should be considered for implementation into everyday practice.

Keywords: Algorithm; Care homes; Infections; Older people; Prescribing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Clinical Decision-Making*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine*
  • Homes for the Aged*
  • Humans
  • Infections / diagnosis*
  • Infections / drug therapy*
  • Nursing Homes
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic*
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / diagnosis
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / drug therapy
  • Skin Diseases, Infectious / diagnosis
  • Skin Diseases, Infectious / drug therapy
  • Soft Tissue Infections / diagnosis
  • Soft Tissue Infections / drug therapy
  • United Kingdom
  • Urinary Tract Infections / diagnosis
  • Urinary Tract Infections / drug therapy