How to protect residents with proper hand hygiene

Proper hand hygiene is critical in care environments. When we care for people who need a helping hand, we have to be ensure our hands are always safe. Older and disabled people who live in long-term care settings are vulnerable to illness and need extra protection. For example, long-term care facilities have an estimated one to three million cases of serious infections every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Those infections are a major cause of hospitalizations and resident deaths. The most basic step in helping to stop the spread of germs that could endanger residents’ lives is the consistent practice of proper hand hygiene.

A study of 26 French nursing homes conducted between 2014 and 2015 found that when staff, residents and visitors consistently followed proper hand hygiene it resulted in fewer deaths. The study used a multifaceted approach to tackle improving hand hygiene in half of the facilities while the other 13 were in the control group. The changes implemented included increasing access to hand sanitizer gel by distributing pocket-sized containers, adding new sanitizer gel dispensers, more displays of hand hygiene information and staff education tools. This study is proof that making a commitment to basic hygiene can make a world of difference for infection control.

When should long-term care staff practice hand hygiene?

Part of proper hand hygiene is knowing when to wash your hands and sticking to the practice. Healthcare workers should wash their hands when they report for duty and when they complete their shift. During their shift, federal guidance on hand hygiene recommends that they wash their hands:

Before

  • Before and after changing wound dressings or bandages
  • Before preparing or eating food
  • Before touching your eyes, nose or mouth

After

  • Assisting with/providing personal care
  • Contact with blood and body fluid, secretions, excretions, mucous membranes, etc.
  • Eating
  • Handling medications
  • Holding contaminated items such as soiled linens and dressings
  • Performing invasive procedures
  • Removing gloves or aprons
  • Sneezing, coughing, blowing or wiping their nose
  • Touching a resident’s skin
  • Using the restroom

In addition to knowing when to wash your hands, it is highly important to practice correct hand hygiene techniques. The CDC has provided education on hand hygiene and thoroughly outlined useful information for ensuring your hands are clean and safe.

Soap and water hand hygiene technique:
  • Thoroughly wet hands with water at sink.
  • Apply enough soap to cover all hand surfaces.
  • Rub hands together palm to palm vigorously.
  • Rub right palm over the back of the left hand with interlaced fingers and vice versa.
  • Rub palm to palm with interlaced fingers.
  • Rub the backs of fingers with cupped palms
  • Rub each thumb with a circular motion.
  • Using fingers, rub each palm with a circular and back and forth motion.
  • Rinse hands.
  • Dry thoroughly with a single-use towel.
  • Use towel to turn off the faucet.
Alcohol-based hand gel hand hygiene technique:
  • If the hands are not visibly dirty, use of an alcohol-based hand gel is appropriate.
  • Apply a palmful of product to palm of one hand and cover all surfaces.
  • Rub hands palm to palm.
  • Rub right palm over the back of the left hand with interlaced fingers and vice versa.
  • Rub palm to palm with interlaced fingers.
  • Rub the backs of fingers with cupped palms.
  • Rub each thumb with a circular motion.
  • Using fingers, rub each palm with a circular and back and forth motion.
  • Once the hands are dry, they are clean.
Glove use and hand hygiene

Using gloves is not a substitute for having clean hands. Always clean your hands after removing gloves. Dirty gloves can soil your hands so change your gloves if they are damaged, look dirty, you move from a contaminated body site to a clean body site while performing care or have blood or bodily fluids on them after completing a task.

We can help

Let Supply360 help you take the worry out of hand hygiene and infection control. Supply360 has quality, affordably-priced hand sanitizers, soaps, dispensers and PPE for all your needs. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you protect your staff and those you serve. Stay up-to-date with our latest discounts and special offers by following us on Facebook.

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