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Understand the Threat of Bed Bugs in Senior Living Communities

Author: Ron Harrison, Ph.D., Director of Technical Services, Orkin, LLC

Senior living communities have a high risk of attracting bed bugs for a number of reasons.

First, residents move in with personal belongings, which can be infested with bed bugs. Because these items are not typically inspected with the same protocols used for community furnishings, they remain infested. Senior living communities also have many visitors who may transport bed bugs on handbags, luggage, or personal items brought to residents. Finally, studies have shown that senior living residents may be less likely to react to bed bug bites, meaning it could take longer to identify and address the pest’s presence.

To learn more about bed bugs and the steps you can take to prepare for and respond to an infestation, ALFA is partnering with Orkin, Willis, and Elmcroft Senior Living to provide a bed bug webinar series for senior living staff. The webinars will share tips on how you can help protect your residents – and your reputation – by adopting the following preventive measures:

  1. Training – Your staff are the eyes and ears of your community. Train them to recognize the signs of bed bugs, which can include bed bugs in any life stage, cast skins, and dark stains left by fecal matter. Bed bugs are habitually nocturnal, making it hard to immediately recognize when you do have them.  Remember to look for bed bugs in dark, quiet places, which is where they retreat to when they aren’t actively feeding.

  2. Inspection – Ensure that your housekeeping staff and other personnel are conducting regular inspections for signs of bed bugs when cleaning or performing other services. Remember that these pests aren’t limited to mattresses. They can hide in the box springs, headboards, electrical outlets and nearby furniture.

  3. Notification – Contact your pest management professional in the event that your staff should find signs of bed bugs. He or she will be able to positively identify the pest and recommend a course of treatment.

  4. Plan of Action – Upon positive identification, you should be prepared to follow the action and treatment protocol that you have developed with your pest management professional’s recommendations. These could include stripping the room of linens to be laundered separately from other bedding, preparing furniture for topical treatment or disposing of infested items.

About the Webinars:
The bed bug is a pest that requires constant vigilance. Education helps build staff awareness and increases the chances that the pest will be discovered before your bed bug problem becomes a full-blown infestation.

To register for the webinars, visit alfa.org/bedbugwebinar. The exploration into bed bugs begins Thursday, Nov. 8th with a free Bed Bug 101 informational webinar. The two-part, advanced webinar series, Effective Bed Bug Prevention and Management in Senior Living Communities, takes place Thursday, Nov. 15th and Thursday, Nov. 29th. The advanced webinar series is worth two CEU credit hours.


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About the Author:
Ron Harrison, Entomologist, Ph.D., is Director of Technical Services for Orkin and an acknowledged leader in the field of pest management.  Contact Dr. Harrison at rharriso@orkin.com or visit orkincommercial.com for more information.

Orkin commercial servicesElmcroft senior livingWillisRon harrison, orkin


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