Save Lives - Clean Your Hands

Save Lives - Clean Your Hands

Our latest guest blogger is Allison Sykes, Senior Infection Prevention & Control Nurse at the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, who explains why hand hygiene is so important in preventing infection:

On 5th May we will be supporting the World Health Organization’s SAVE LIVES: Clean Your Hands global annual campaign, when we raise awareness of the importance of hand hygiene in the prevention of infections. Hand hygiene continues to be the simplest and single most effective way to prevent transmission of microorganisms (bugs) between people, and from the environments in which we live to ourselves.

There are many occasions throughout our day when it is important that we all clean our hands to keep ourselves and others healthy. This includes when they are visibly dirty, after visiting the toilet and before eating. There are also many respiratory infections circulating, meaning it is important to apply the Catch it, Bin it, Kill it principles to prevent their spread, which includes washing your hands after discarding your tissues, something that many people forget to do. These things are important for everyone, from children to the elderly, regardless of our age or profession.

I work in healthcare, and hand hygiene is even more important here, because I am responsible for providing safe and effective care to my patients. In healthcare we must also adhere to the 5 Moments for Hand Hygiene which are the key moments when we must decontaminate our hands while with our patients or clients.

When undertaking hand hygiene, we must use the right technique, the right product, at the right time, every time, to prevent harmful infections. The correct procedure for handwashing is shown below and there is also a correct procedure for using alcohol hand gel. If hands are not visibly dirty or greasy, have not been exposed to body fluids and we have not had contact with someone with diarrhoea then alcohol hand gel is a very effective and quick way to decontaminate our hands. However if we have been caring for someone with diarrhoea then we must wash our hands with soap and water to remove the spores that bacteria such as Clostridium difficile can produce, which cannot be removed with alcohol sanitising gel.

Our IPC team recently developed a fun way to help the rest of our staff at Newcastle Hospitals to improve their infection prevention and control knowledge, including learning all about the importance of hand hygiene. The Poopology Game teaches staff how to correctly manage patients with diarrhoea, including when and how to wash their hands and what PPE to wear when caring for these patients. It is now available to people working in all care settings through Focus Games.

This game is suitable for teams working in hospital, residential/ nursing and domiciliary care, and is a fun, interactive and memorable way to train staff about this important issue.

If your team need some support to recognise when patients have diarrhoea, know when they should send a sample or when and how to isolate people who have diarrhoea, then this is the game for you! But hurry, the introductory offer ends soon.

This week is also the RCN Glove Awareness Week which highlights the need for appropriate use of gloves, as their overuse can lead to poor hand hygiene and increase the risk of infection. Rose Gallagher, RCN Professional Lead for Infection Prevention and Control, said:

“All those who work in health care have a responsibility for caring for our patients but we also have a responsibility for looking after ourselves and that can start with being glove aware…..using gloves should not be seen as a replacement for good hand hygiene. With proper hand washing and moisturising along with appropriate use of gloves we can look after our hands as well preventing the spread of infections.”

The Poopology Game is available at an introductory price of £40 until 31st May 2019. Usual price £60.

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