Educating care providers and consumers about the safe use of antibiotics is the aim of the Antimicrobial Stewardship (AMS) program, instigated by the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission.
There are three main goals of the AMS program, of which Alwyndor is part.
- To improve the safe and appropriate use of antimicrobials (antibiotics)
- To reduce resident harm
- To prevent and contain antimicrobial (antibiotic) resistance in aged care services.
Why are antibiotics important?
Antibiotics are precious and powerful drugs that should only be used for specific purposes.
They can be helpful against many bacterial infections such as infections of the urinary tract, skin, and respiratory system. They can be lifesaving for serious infections such as sepsis.
When they are needed, the benefits of antibiotics outweigh the risks of side effects and antibiotic resistance. But antibiotics are not always needed, and if used incorrectly, the side effects could still cause harm and contribute to antibiotic resistance.
What don’t antibiotics treat?
- Many upper respiratory tract infections caused by viruses
- Some bacterial infections that get better quickly even without antibiotics. Examples of this are bronchitis, sinus and ear infections
- Harmless bacteria in conditions where there are no symptoms or signs of infection. Examples of this would be asymptomatic bacteriuria (harmless bacteria in the urine detected on testing with a dipstick or urine culture), or uninfected skin wounds.
- When used for prevention of infection (prophylaxis). Examples of this are skin antifungal creams used for months or oral antibiotics started just in case infection may develop.
- Side effects from antibiotic use
- Antibiotic side effects are common, and older people are at increased risk. Some of the more common side effects are:
- Loss of appetite/ reduced eating and drinking
- Yeast infections such as thrush
Tips to keep yourself and others healthy
- Hand hygiene is paramount. Wash your hands regularly with soap and water after going to the toilet and use an alcohol-based hand rub before touching others or eating.
- If you are receiving treatment for a wound, insist that healthcare professionals and visitors clean their hands before touching you.
- Cover your cough to prevent the spread of germs.
- Ask family or friends not to visit if they are not well.
- Stay in your room when sick.
- Protect yourself and others by getting vaccines for flu, COVID-19, and pneumonia and encouraging others around you to do the same.
- Eating a healthy balanced diet and drinking plenty of water
If you have any questions or concerns about using antibiotics, speak to your GP.