How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs in an Assisted Living Facility: An Action Plan
January 27, 2023
A key part of providing the best quality care to residents at your assisted living facility is maintaining safe, sanitary conditions. Unfortunately, pests can infiltrate long-term care facilities even if your team follows best practices for sanitation and hygiene. Bed bugs are especially concerning because they can spread quickly and cause major infestations.
Being able to spot the warning signs of the pests and knowing how to get rid of bed bugs in an assisted living facility can help you respond quickly, protecting your residents and your reputation.
What are bed bugs?
Bed bugs are tiny insects that feed on the blood of mammals. Human blood is their preferred meal, and they often live in areas where humans spend a lot of time being still, such as bed or upholstered furniture. These wingless insects are capable of moving quickly and can jump long distances.
Before a meal, a bed bug is typically a creamy white-brown color, and after a meal, it turns reddish-brown. Like other insects, they have six legs, segmented bodies, and two antennae. Their bodies have a distinctive oval shape and are roughly the size of an apple seed.
Bed bugs typically live for two to four months. Females can lay 200 to 250 eggs during their lifetimes. With incubation times of just six to ten days, nymphs hatch quickly, so infestations can grow exponentially within a short period.
Why are bed bugs infesting my facility?
The most important thing to understand about bed bug infestations is that they can affect any facility. They aren’t a reflection of how clean and well-maintained your assisted living home is. In many cases, bed bugs get into facilities by stowing away on the clothing of visitors and staff or on donated items coming in from the outside, such as blankets, furniture, or bedding.
From there, they can hide in electrical switch plates, light fixtures, wallpaper, mattresses, box springs, bed frames, headboards, and other places in your residents’ rooms. As they multiply, bed bugs may move through ceilings, floors, and walls, spreading to adjacent rooms or areas of your building.
Are bed bugs harmful?
Fortunately, bed bugs aren’t known to carry diseases. However, their bites can produce allergic reactions in some people. In most cases, reactions are mild and cause only localized itching.
Signs of a bed bug infestation
During the early stages of an infestation, actually spotting bed bugs in your facility can prove challenging due to the small size and fast movement of the pests. You’re more likely to notice other warning signs, such as:
- Small red bites on residents, staff, or guests
- Blood spots or smears on bedding and mattresses not caused by known wounds
- Blood spots and smears on ceilings or walls
- Brown smears and stains on linens, walls, ceilings, and corners caused by bed bug feces
- Skin sheddings
How can I check for bed bugs?
To visually inspect for bed bugs, look in areas where the pests are most likely to nest, including:
- Box springs
- Bed frames
- Couches and chairs
- Corners of walls and ceilings
- Durable medical equipment
- Electrical outlets
- Employee lockers
When performing an inspection, look for signs of bed bugs like sheddings and stains as well as the pests themselves.
How to get rid of bed bugs in an assisted living facility
When you discover an infestation, take the following steps:
- Move residents: Move the resident out of the affected room and conduct a complete inspection of both the space and the rooms on either side, above, and below it. Relocate residents of those rooms if bed bugs are discovered.
- Remove affected items: Seal any infested items in plastic and label them before disposal.
- Launder: Launder residents’ clothing and linens and then tumble dry on the high heat setting to eliminate pests. Bed bugs typically die when exposed to temperatures of at least 113°F for at least an hour.
- Expand your search: Consult staff and list all the places the resident from the affected room has visited during the previous two to three days. Conduct inspections in these areas.
- Use inactive monitoring devices and traps: Place glue boards beneath bed frames, behind nightstands, inside employee lockers, and in other areas where bed bugs may like to nest. These boards can trap the critters and allow you to identify additional infestation sites easily.
How can I prevent bed bugs?
While it isn’t possible to guarantee you’ll never see bed bugs in your assisted living facility, you can take steps to reduce the risk of infestations. Some tips include:
- Conduct physical examinations during intake: Ask new residents about signs of bed bug bites when they first arrive.
- Inspect belongings during move-ins: Have a staff member assist with unpacking and check clothing and personal items for signs of bed bugs. If the new resident brought along medical equipment like a wheelchair or walker, also inspect those.
- Purchase new furnishings and inspect upon arrival: Buying gently used furniture and equipment can reduce costs for your facility but also increase the risk of an infestation. Visually inspect medical equipment, sofas, chairs, mattresses, box springs, and case goods before placing them in rooms.
- Schedule regular inspections: Have staff members regularly inspect rooms and common areas for bed bugs, such as once per week. Enlist the help of a pest control company to conduct professional inspections quarterly.
Commercial pest control solutions
Calling an assisted living pest control provider is essential to dealing with an infestation. Hawx knows how to use state-of-the-art tools, products, and technologies to address an infestation.
Our expert technicians will put the safety and comfort of your residents and staff first and provide you and your staff with advice on lowering the likelihood of future infestations. In addition, we can perform routine inspections and provide preventative services to benefit your facility. Call us today to get your pest problem under control.