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Pest Control in Care Homes

By 12th June 2018Blog, Pest Control

There are few places where pest control is more important than in a care home, even the smallest issue can cause problems. While there is a lot you can do to minimise the chances of unwanted pests, it’s important to get professional advice as quickly as possible if you encounter any signs of an infestation.

Servest’s expert pest control technicians understand how important it is to maintain the highest possible hygiene standards, especially in care homes. From flies, rats and cockroaches in the winter, to ants, fleas and wasps in the summer, it’s helpful to be aware of the different types of pests that can impact the health and safety of colleagues, residents and visitors. In this blog, you can find out which pests to be on the lookout for, how to identify an infestation and most importantly, what you can do to deter pests in the first place.

Pest Control in care homes infographic

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4.Bed Bugs


how to get rid of ants

The most common type of ant in the UK is the Black Garden Ant (Lasius niger). Although their name suggests you will find them in your garden, ants will travel long distances in search for food and are increasingly found nesting underground, in wall cavities, rotten wood and under carpets.

What are the risks of an ant infestation?

Ants can spread bacteria and several harmful pathogens, including salmonella if they get into a food supply, particularly in kitchen and dining areas. If ants start to breed, they can even begin to cause damage to essential medical equipment and the building structure itself in their efforts to build a nest.

How to identify an ant infestation?

  • If you spot a few ants early in the morning or late in the evening, it’s likely that they are worker ants collecting food for a nesting Queen
  • Look out for disturbed soil or piles of wood shavings. These can often be found near a nesting colony
  • Tap interior walls and listen carefully for a light rustling sound. If there’s a nest, tapping can disturb the colony making it easier to identify an infestation

 How to minimise the risks of ants?

  • Keep food sealed and stored away
  • Thoroughly clean and sanitise liquid and food spillages
  • Regularly empty waste food bags into outdoor refuge bins
  • Fill and seal cracks in walls and flooring
  • Disinfect previously infested areas to remove the pheromone trails ants leave behind
  • Contact a specialist pest control company to implement an insecticide baiting plan


how to get rid of cockroaches

Cockroaches are the last thing anyone wants to discover, especially in a care environment. They are able to fit through and hide in cracks and crevices a quarter of their body size, making them very difficult to find. Once they find a comfortable hiding place, they can survive for a month without food and two weeks without water. However, they will eat almost anything, so it’s important not to give them easy access to a food source of any kind.

What are the risks of a cockroach infestation?

Cockroaches are carriers of dangerous bacteria, including E.coli and Salmonella, and can also cause a serious issue for people suffering with asthma. In an environment where residents may have a weaker immune system, it’s important to act quickly and prevent any potential health risks. A female cockroach and its offspring can produce over 25,000 cockroaches in just one year, so it’s vital to eliminate these troublesome pests before they begin breeding.

How to identify a cockroach infestation?

  • They are most active after dark, so you’re more likely to spot them in the late or early hours
  • Spotting one cockroach often means more are nearby
  • Brown stains or faeces (similar to coffee grounds) can indicate you have cockroaches
  • An infestation can cause an unpleasant odour

How to minimise the risks of cockroaches?

  • Keep food sealed and stored away
  • Thoroughly clean and sanitise liquid and food spillages
  • Regularly empty waste food bags into outdoor refuge bins
  • Fill and seal cracks in walls and flooring
  • Hoover carpets and sweep floors regularly, especially in dining areas
  • Proactively clean under sinks and at the back of cupboards where there might be access to water or a food source
  • Contact a pest control professional for advice as soon as you suspect there might be an infestation


How to get rid of wasps

As the weather gets warmer and the days longer, wasps will begin to surface from their winter hibernation. They are social creatures that live in colonies and can produce a painful sting if they feel provoked or need to defend their Queen. Once the Queen has picked a suitable nesting site, which most commonly occurs in hollow trees or roof and attic spaces, the worker wasps will begin to build the nest. When nests are built in close proximity to where people live, the risk of being stung increases, especially in the summer months when wasps are most active and on the hunt for sugary food.

What are the risks of a wasp infestation?

For the majority of people, a wasp sting is painful but causes no long term damage. However, it’s important to understand the increased risks for those who are allergic to these pests. A single wasp sting can be life threatening to someone who suffers from a severe allergic reaction, especially if they’re suffering with other medical conditions. In a care home or medical facility, the safety and comfort of residents and patients is paramount. Taking proactive steps to minimise these risks is the best way to maintain the highest standard of safety.

How to identify a wasp infestation?

  • Wasps commonly nest in hollow trees or roof and attic spaces, so pay particular attention to these areas during the summer
  • Look out for a nest, which will be round in shape with a papery texture
  • If you see wasps on a daily basis, try and follow their path to locate a potential nest
  • Contact an expert pest control company for assistance if you feel unsafe trying to locate a nest

How to minimise the risks of wasps?

  • Ensure waste food is securely locked in bins
  • If there are fruit trees in the garden, remove any fallen fruit
  • Fill in any holes and seal any obvious entry routes to loft and attic spaces
  • Keep food sealed and stored away
  • Use window and door screens to keep wasps outside
  • Contact a professional pest control technician to deploy an external wasp pot to lure and capture wasps to prevent a nest from developing

Bed bugs

how to get rid of bed bugs

Bed bugs are small, six legged, blood-sucking insects that typically live in or around beds. They most often surface at night to remain undetected and feed on human blood by biting skin that is exposed whilst you sleep. Bed bugs are notoriously good hitch-hikers and can sneak around in a number of different ways. Whether they cling to your clothes or inside furniture, once bed bugs find their way in, they will be as determined as possible to stay. By hiding inside mattresses, behind wallpaper or even in picture frames, they can be incredibly difficult to find and can go unnoticed for months.

What are the risks of a bed bug infestation?

Due to the transient nature of care homes, with residents receiving regular visitors and a variety of different care workers, it’s easy for bed bugs to be transported from one place to another. An infestation is most commonly found near to where people sleep, so there are increased risks in care homes where there are a large number of permanent residents. The most common risk of an infestation is getting bitten in the night, with reactions to these bites varying from person to person. Typically the symptoms range from no affects at all, to a small rash and itching, however a more severe reaction can occur if the person bitten suffers an allergic reaction. 

How to identify a bed bug infestation?

  • Although very small, if you know what you are looking for they can be seen by the human eye
  • Look out for dark stains, either on mattresses or surrounding areas. These stains could be blood or faeces
  • Use a bright torch to check for egg shells and case skins on and around beds
  • Examine cracks and crevices in head boards, furniture and walls for bed bugs
  • If you detect a musty odour around a bed, look for further signs of bed bugs or contact a professional pest control company to conduct a thorough search

How to minimise the risk of bed bugs?

  • Ensure used linen is kept in sealed bags and stored away from bedrooms
  • Educate carers to identify early signs of bed bugs
  • Perform regular checks and room inspections
  • Regularly hoover and empty hoover bags
  • Investigate adjacent rooms if any traces of bed bugs are found
  • Seek advice from an expert pest technician and implement a preventative and long-term plan


How to get rid of rats

There are two main species of rats that reside in the UK: the black rat, and the more commonly sighted brown rat. They are notoriously good at squeezing into small spaces and gnawing through wood, pipes and cables to navigate through a building. Brown rats are also good climbers and swimmers, making any floor in your building vulnerable.

What are the risks of a rat infestation?

Rats have exceptionally strong teeth which allows them to bite through tough materials, including electrical cables, gas and water pipes. Over time this level of damage can lead to fires, floods and gas leaks, putting the health and safety of colleagues, residents and visitors at risk. Rats can also carry a lot of nasty diseases, such as Weil’s disease and rat bite fever, which are easily contracted if an infestation is not safely and effectively removed.

How to identify a rat infestation?

  • If you suspect you have rats in an attic space or behind walls, listen for scratching and squeaking sounds
  • Check for gnaw marks on food packaging, pipes and electrical cables
  • Look out for distinctive rat tracks and smudge marks against skirting boards and walls
  • Be wary if you spot rodent droppings near food storage areas or dark and hidden spaces
  • Look out for rat holes which are extensive tunnels that allow rats to find food, shelter and move around undetected

How to minimise the risks of rats?

  • Ensure waste food is securely stored in outdoor bins with sealed lids
  • Sweep away excess water around drainage areas
  • Remove clutter from storage and outdoor areas to deter nesting
  • Don’t use open compost heaps in garden spaces
  • Cut back trees and creepers that could allow rats to climb up the building
  • Act quickly and contact a professional pest control technician if you spot any signs of rats. It’s important to implement a treatment plan before an infestation develops


how to get rid of fleas

Once a flea reaches adulthood it has two primary goals, to find blood from a host and to reproduce. Female fleas have been known to lay 5,000 or more eggs over their life, permitting rapid growth in numbers, which increases the risk of bacteria and germs spreading. Fleas can also be easily transported on their host, so these tiny creatures can spread from room to room very quickly.

What are the risks of a flea infestation?

Fleas are most commonly brought in by animals, so residents with guide dogs in particular are at greater risk of being exposed to these blood-sucking pests. Though their bites are not particularly painful, they can cause an unpleasant rash and itching, with extreme cases leading to a severe allergic reaction. They can also be carriers of several different types of bacteria, and are known for transmitting tapeworms. With care home residents frequently sharing communal areas, fleas can be easily passed on from person to person if not treated quickly.

How to identify a flea infestation?

  • Monitor dogs for excessive scratching
  • Look out for small black flea droppings on dog fur
  • Small, red and itchy bites on legs and feet

How to minimise the risks of fleas?

  • Groom dogs outside regularly
  • Wash clothes and dog bedding on a high heat to kill any potential fleas or eggs
  • Hoover carpets regularly and immediately empty or dispose of the bag
  • Contact a specialist pest control company to implement an insecticide treatment plan


Expert pest control advice

Servest’s professional pest technicians have a proven track record of expertise in dealing with all forms of pest challenges. If you need support or some expert pest advice, contact Servest’s Pest Control team today on 01223 836 086.

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