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Long-term care homes part of ‘cutting-edge’ study
Windsor Elms, Northwood participating in 18-month far-UVC light research project
Two Nova Scotia nursing homes are about to take part in an 18-month study to help researchers determine if ultraviolet light reduces illness.
With Nova Scotia having the highest per capita population of seniors in the country, researchers say investing in solutions to help long-term care facilities is an important healthy aging strategy here and around the world.
“The pandemic has had a particular impact on older adults, especially those with underlying health conditions,” said lead researcher Dr. Kenneth Rockwood, with Nova Scotia Health’s division of geriatric medicine, in a press release.
“We want to see if farUVC light can kill airborne viral transmissions, including the SARS CoV-2 virus, in long-term care facilities.”
Northwood’s Halifax campus and Windsor Elms Village in Falmouth are both taking part in the study.
The researchers hope to determine if the rates of influenza-like illnesses and respiratory infections decrease due to the far-UVC light.
Susan Hayes, the chief executive officer at the Windsor Elms Village, is excited her facility is participating.
“There is evidence in lots of studies around ultraviolet lights and the ability to eliminate virus, but there’s never been a qualitative and quantitative study that looks specifically at the long-term care setting,” said Hayes in a Zoom interview.
The information researchers gather at the Elms may help shape health and safety features at long-term care homes and other institutionalized settings in the future.
“If you think about our residents, a large number of our residents have a form of dementia,” said Hayes.
“Masking, social distancing, being wary of what you touch and washing your hands, those things can be really challenging for that population. The hope is that by using these lower levels of ultraviolet light that it will… take away some of those risks for this at-risk population,” she said.
The study is anticipated to last two flu seasons, or about 18 months.
HOW THE STUDY WILL WORK
Since COVID-19 arrived in Canada, long-term care facilities have been ramping up efforts to keep residents and employees safe.