Specialist Seating and Infection Prevention & Control


What is Infection Prevention & Control?

Infection prevention & control (IPC) is a scientific approach and a practical solution designed to prevent harm to clients caused by infection1. It is a highly relevant key objective and is crucial to reducing the risk of transmitting contagious diseases.

IPC occupies a unique position in client safety and quality care as it is relevant at every single healthcare encounter. IPC is extremely important in multi-user environments, such as hospices and hospitals. IPC is also important in care home environments, including nursing and residential homes.

Why is Specialist Seating and Infection Prevention & Control Important?

Individuals in healthcare settings are at risk of contracting healthcare-associated infections (HCAI), also known as hospital-acquired infections. HCAI are a serious risk to patients, staff and visitors. Over 4 million people in Europe get a HCAI every year, and around 37,000 die as a direct result of the infection2.

HCAI can affect people of all ages. Any underlying conditions can be exacerbated, delaying recovery and negatively impacting on quality of life3.  In 2007 methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Clostridium difficile infections were recorded as the underlying cause of, or a contributory factor in, approximately 9,000 deaths in hospital and primary care in England4.

HCAI can not only cause significant morbidity to those infected but also significant costs for the NHS5 and wider economy.

What Specialist Seating Considerations Are Required?

Specialist seating systems within health and social care environments can be a cause of cross-contamination and therefore IPC must be considered during the assessment and prescription processes.

A number of factors can increase the risk of an individual acquiring a HCAI, but high standards of IPC practice, including ensuring clean and appropriate equipment, can minimise the risk.  It is essential that any chair prescribed within these environments takes in to consideration IPC. Chairs should be configured with appropriate materials and fabrics that reduce the risk of cross-contamination, and cleaned as per manufacturer’s instructions.

How Can Specialist Seating Address Infection Prevention & Control?

Specialist seating materials play an integral role in ICP; cross-contamination can be controlled and minimised if the following are achieved:

  • Fabrics used must be durable.
  • Fabric used must be waterproof to keep the cushion as protected as possible.
  • Stitching and seams should be kept to a minimum.
  • Materials used need to be easy to clean.
  • Materials used should be compatible with a chlorine solution.

Fabrics that have antifungal and antibacterial properties that will not support microbial growth can offer protection against E. coli, Aspergillus Niger and MRSA. Removable covers, which can be easily taken off for cleaning, or fixed covers that are designed with IPC in mind, are also vital.

Vinyl is ideal in high risk environments; it is inherently resistant to stains as they do not absorb into the surface so they are then easily cleaned away. Vinyl essentially provides a tough durable exterior to the seating system that will help to protect it from any leaks and spills.

When pressure management is a significant seating goal, Panatech Vapour Permeable fabric may be a more appropriate option. Panatech is more breathable and is a multi-stretch material so allows the cushion to contour to the user. Panatech is also waterproof and can be coated with an antimicrobial substance, which can help prevent the spread of infection by suppressing the growth of micro-organisms

What about COVID-19?

IPC is understandably a key objective in the fight against COVID-19 and is crucial to reducing the risk of transmitting the virus.

COVID-19 is a respiratory infection caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The virus is transmitted mainly through close physical contact and respiratory droplets; however, evidence of surface contamination in health-care settings exists6.  Therefore, these surfaces, especially where individuals with COVID-19 are being cared for, must be properly cleaned and disinfected to prevent further transmission, as with any contagious disease.

How Can CareFlex Help?

To help in healthcare settings, care homes and other multi-user environments, where attention to IPC is critical, CareFlex are able to offer infection control covers. We have replaced Velcro in all exposed areas with plastic profile fittings and zips, and minimised exposed seams.

We use Panatech Vapour Permeable fabric for our support surfaces, which is the optimal material to prevent the spread of infection:

  • Safe material for skin contact.
  • Impermeable to bacteria, viruses and fluid ingress – polyurethane is a fluid-proof, breathable barrier.
  • Promotes vapour release to maintain a healthy microclimate.
  • Reliable and designed for purpose to maximise the life of the support surface.

Additionally, the Shield Plus™ anti-microbial technology on our vinyl range has been through independent testing against the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus strain, to reassure clients and clinicians of its effectiveness against the rise of new contagious diseases. Shield Plus™ anti-microbial protection literally attracts microbes (viruses, fungi and bacteria) and physically destroys them on impact.  It has the broadest spectrum of effectiveness against bacteria, including C. diff, and viruses, including COVID-197.

CareFlex are here to support you when you need us – we are striving to keep offering our usual high-quality services in the safest possible way. If you can no longer accept visitors then we can offer remote clinical and technical support via video call. We also have a live chat representative available via our website during office hours. Our website has a range of useful and educational material, such as articles, videos and user guides.

Do not hesitate to call us on our free phone number 0800 016 8440 or email info@careflex.co.uk to discuss any seating needs and how we can help.


  1. World Health Organization (2019) Infection prevention and control Available from: https://www.who.int/infection-prevention/about/ipc/en/
  2. Public Health England (2016) Healthcare associated infections (HAI): point prevalence survey, EnglandAvailable from: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/healthcare-associated-infections-hcai-point-prevalence-survey-england
  3. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (2014) Infection prevention and control Available from: https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/qs61/chapter/Introduction
  4. National Audit Office (2009) Reducing healthcare associated infections in hospitals in England Available from: https://www.nao.org.uk/report/reducing-healthcare-associated-infections-in-hospitals-inengland/
  5. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (2016) Healthcare-associated infections (QS113) Available from: https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/qs113/resources/healthcareassociated-infections-pdf-75545296430533
  6. World Health Organization (2020) Cleaning and disinfection of environmental surfaces in the context of COVID-19 Interim guidance Available from: https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/cleaning-and-disinfection-of-environmental-surfaces-inthe-context-of-covid-19
  7. Panaz (2020) Shield Plus – Effective Against COVID-19 Coronavirus Strain Available from: http://www.panaz.com/en/news/2020/02/shield-plus-effective-against-covid-19-coronavirus/