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Health Care Tips: Good Hand-washing Practice for Infection Control

handwashing techniques , Health & Social Care , Healthcare , blog , featured

It is important to understand why we should take extra care to control the spread of any viruses or infections using good hand washing practices. 

Hand washing is one of the best methods to prevent the spread of germs and keep yourself and your family protected as well as healthy. 

According to the CDC (Centres for Disease Control and Prevention), "handwashing can reduce the risk of respiratory infections by 16%" 

Think of it like this: if your hands are clean, you can save your life and others by stopping the spread of germs.

 Here is why good hygiene matters and what happens if infection or viruses spread fast:

  • People can suffer and die, especially those using health and care services are usually more vulnerable and need protecting
  • Infection is more likely to spread when vulnerable people are together
  • Infection cost health care services huge amounts of money
  • Infection can spread quickly affecting whole populations right across the world
  • It can impact on people’s social and family life
  • New diseases develop and old diseases reappear – infection never goes away

Inadequate hand hygiene means a healthcare-associated infection which can result in patient death!

In order to prevent or reduce the spread of infectious diseases and viruses, the “Chain of infection” must be broken. This can be done by appropriate cleaning and hand washing. Especially for healthcare workers such as nurses and healthcare assistants because they work in hospitals and take care of vulnerable people, it is crucial to maintain excellent hygiene levels.

To protect yourself and others from germs:

  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water and dry them thoroughly
  • If soap is not available, use an alcohol-based sanitiser but be aware that it does not kill all germs, whereas soap and water kill most germs.

Unfortunately, studies have found hand washing compliance to be greater than 50% This is due to the lack of appropriate handwashing facilities, or complete ignorance. To become aware of the good handwashing practices, hospitals and care units should provide appropriate training to their staff.

Good Handwashing Practices (Step-by-Step):

These guidelines are given by the CDC, a government organization for disease control and prevention, please follow this to stay healthy:

  1. Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
  2. Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  3. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
  4. Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  5. Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

Here is a handwashing technique poster from WHO (World Health Organisation) to help you understand how to wash your hands properly:

Source: https://www.who.int/gpsc/clean_hands_protection/en/

When should you wash your hands?

Here are some of the times when it is essential before and after work to wash your hands and the steps involved to ensure good hand washing practice:

Using disposable gloves:

Before you wash hands, here is how to take off your gloves properly in a step by step manner: Pinch the lower palm of one contaminated glove with the gloved fingers of your other hand, and pull it toward your fingertips so that it rolls off your hand with the inside facing outward. Do not remove it completely, though. Now, pinch the lower palm of the other glove with the fingers of the partially-gloved hand, and pull it off completely by pulling it upward and inside-out. Do not dispose of this glove yet---hold it with the fingertips of your partially gloved hand. Then, insert the thumb and forefinger of your bare hand between your wrist and the inside-out cuff of the partially-removed glove. Use caution to avoid touching the outside of the contaminated glove with your bare fingers. Pull the glove toward your fingertips and then over the other contaminated glove. Dispose of the gloves in a marked infectious waste container. Wash your hands immediately with soap and hot water.

Preparing, serving and eating food:

Make sure to wash hands before, during and after preparing food. Also, wash hands before eating food. If you are serving food or caring for someone who is sick or has a virus or infection, then wash your hands before and after you serve food to them.

Contact with your own and other body fluids:

This involves all these tasks which means you should wash hands before and after doing these tasks. This list is not an exhaustive list but starting with these can help prevent the spread of germs:

  • Handling clean and dirty laundry
  • Using the toilet
  • Blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing
  • Touching an animal, feeding them or handling their waste
  • Touching garbage, taking bins out
  • Treating a cut or wound
  • Changing a child’s nappy

Follow the above-mentioned guidelines properly to stop picking and spreading viruses and infections, especially if you are visiting anyone in the hospital or you work in a healthcare setting.