This week is National Handwashing Awareness Week, highlighting the opportunity to stop the transmission of microorganisms to residents and others.
“Hand hygiene is one of the most important ways to prevent the spread of infections,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Those working in long-term care settings should be sure to practice hand hygiene at four key times, according to the agency:
- Before contact with residents,
- After contact with blood, body fluids or contaminated surfaces (even if they are wearing gloves),
- Before invasive procedures; and
- After removing gloves.
For infection control compliance within the skilled nursing environment, four instances require soap-and-water handwashing rather than the use of alcohol-based sanitizers, according to Jocelyn Montgomery, RN, PHN, director of clinical affairs for the California Association of Health Facilities in Sacramento, who spoke at the 2013 American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living annual meeting. The four instances:
- In cases of Clostridium difficile,
- In cases of norovius,
- When handling food, and
- When soiling is visible.
The CDC offers handwashing-related resources for healthcare professionals, as well as resources for residents and their families, on its website.