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Don't spread it, campaign | Running a Care Home

Don’t spread it, stop it – infection prevention for your care home this winter

With the winter months ahead, it is crucial that robust infection prevention plans and hand hygiene amenities are in place in your care facility.

Staff absences can have a detrimental impact on wellbeing, reduce your capacity and increase costs. With this in mind, preventing the spread of infection among your residents and staff is paramount when it comes to their care.

Healthcare workers are at a higher risk of infection when compared to healthy adults working in non-healthcare settings, so care homes need to have an effective infection prevention programme, says SC Johnson Professional.

Hand hygiene is a critical part of a facility’s infection prevention programme; hands are one of the primary modes of infection transmission. This is why essential hand hygiene products must be supplied at the right place and time so they are available for staff and facility visitors when needed.

The right time and place

The World Health Organisation’s (WHO) ‘5 Moments for Hand Hygiene’ give guidance on when to consider hand hygiene:

  • Before patient contact
  • Before a clean/antiseptic procedure
  • After body fluid exposure risk­
  • After patient contact
  • After contact with patient surroundings

These actions are designed to help protect carers, the patient and the others in the healthcare environment against potentially harmful germs carried on the hands. Whether to wash or sanitise the hands depends on the level of soiling; as a rule, you should wash your hands with soap and water when hands are visibly dirty or visibly soiled. Read more about when to wash and when to sanitise here.

The right technique

A good skin care programme is vital as well as hand hygiene; we must raise awareness of the correct hand hygiene techniques and routines to ensure staff are sanitising or washing at the right moment, as well as ensuring that their skin is moisturised.

It is also important to encourage staff to use moisturising creams during breaks and at the end of the day.

SC Johnson Professional’s research reveals how many healthcare professionals use their own personal tubes of moisturising cream. However, healthcare settings demand more targeted skin care benefits, particularly due to the impact of high frequency hand washing on skin health, for which many consumer creams are not designed to deal with. As such, it is recommended that healthcare workers use professional creams formulated specifically for healthcare settings.

Hand hygiene needs a united front

If good hand hygiene is to play an effective role in a facility’s infection prevention programme, all visitors, patients and staff members in your facility must play their part and be aware of best practice. According to the WHO, if healthcare professionals do not feel supported to perform hand hygiene at the right times, with the right products, they can feel that their organisation or facility does not value their own or their patients’ safety.

As we enter the winter months, infections may rise and your staff and visitors may become more vulnerable. You can contact SC Johnson Professional to find out more about our free awareness-raising resources and discover more about our Healthcare Programme, tailored to your care home.

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