Improving early detection of infection in nursing home residents in South Africa

Nicola Carey, Geertien Christelle Boersema, Helena S. du Toit

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper sets out key challenges related to detection and management of infection in nursing home residents, and then explores the situation in South Africa, and use of decision support tools as a mechanism to improve this area of practice. In line with global trends, concerns have been raised about the rapidly increasing aging population in South Africa and the ability of the current healthcare system to keep pace with patient demand, particularly nursing home residents. Nursing home residents, who often exhibit atypical signs and symptoms, are at increased risk of infection and unplanned admissions, which account for 65% of all bed days, and cost the US healthcare economy more than a trillion dollars a year. Evidence suggests that the current workforce in South Africa receive limited training in this area and are largely unprepared to meet the demands of the aging population. Building the capacity and skills of the workforce in South Africa is one approach that could help to improve the early detection of infection and assist the nursing home workforce to provide more effective and timely care, particularly during the current COVID-19 pandemic. Decision support tools, such as the Early Detection of Infection Scale, can help ensure consistency and ensure more timely treatment, minimising unplanned admissions and healthcare expenditure. However, the potential benefits or indeed how easily this could be integrated in to nursing homes in South Africa is unknown. An important first step, as in other parts of the world, is therefore to explore views and opinions of how infections are detected and managed in practice by nurses, care workers and managers in nursing homes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100288
JournalInternational Journal of Africa Nursing Sciences
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jan 2021


  • Aging
  • Decision support tools
  • Early detection of infection
  • Residential care facility
  • South Africa


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