Who knew that “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” had such power? Besides being a tune that just about anyone of any age knows by heart, it’s also the perfect amount of time that’s recommended to properly wash your hands, a task that the staff at Above and Beyond Home Health Care is always happy to encourage – and maybe they’ll even sing it themselves if requested!
Hand-washing with soap and hot water is one of the easiest and most effective methods Manchester area residents can utilize to remove germs and reduce the risk of infection. Because everyone’s hands come into contact with so much stuff through the day, both good and bad, plus they already have plenty of bacteria already living on them, it’s almost too easy to spread these germs further and infect ourselves or others.
Bar soap is good, as is foaming soap. Or, if you can’t get to water, alcohol-based hand sanitizer can also help remove germs.
The Mayo Clinic recommends washing your hands prior to tasks like working with food or eating, working with wounds or someone who is injured or sick, or when inserting or removing contact lenses.
You are also encouraged to scrub up after using a bathroom, preparing food, touching garbage or chemicals, touching an animal, working with someone sick or injured, sneezing or coughing or touching another person, such as a handshake. Or simply “when your hands look dirty,” although smaller and potentially harmful germs may still be lurking there.
Cleaner hands around the world
This month is a perfect opportunity to learn more about the value and usefulness of hand washing.
Oct. 15 is considered Global Handwashing Day, an international celebration of good health and good hygiene, where communities everywhere are encouraged to learn or re-learn the basics of washing and ways to resist infection. Schools, health care providers, restaurants, and pretty much anyone else where hygiene should be stressed can benefit from the event.
The day’s theme for this year is “Our Hands, Our Future” and encourages individuals and institutions to take larger steps to achieve better handwashing efforts, since poor health, especially related to infection, can contribute to missed school for students, missed work for adults, and possible health complications for seniors.
The Global Handwashing Partnership even equates access to hygiene with being a tool to reduce inequality in the world, especially in developing nations. The affordable approach can improve sanitation, health, education and more.
Plus, the day also naturally fits into International Infection Prevention Week, which runs Oct. 15-21, and also encourages health providers, educators and patients to all focus on ways to stay healthy.
The focus of this year’s week is antibiotic resistance, which is becoming more of a concern as more types of antibiotics evolve and can’t be stopped, creating potentially life-threatening conditions for patients.
While thinking globally is always a good thing, there are some practical things Manchester area residents can do along with hand washing to prevent infection. At the same time, home health providers like Above and Beyond Home Health Care are happy to help educate clients on proper procedures to better resist infections.
Besides handwashing, other tips include:
- Read any handouts or other materials provided by a doctor, hospital or home health care service. Sometimes these can be overlooked especially if someone receives a huge stack of paperwork when they’re discharged. But there is often useful information about ways to prevent or reduce infection and keep conditions sanitary.
- Ask for help. If you’re not sure where to start, ask a home health care nurse or other professional to clarify any questions or concerns. Infection control is usually a required and early class for any nursing program, and many professionals have also taken a variety of refresher/continuing courses in the topic to make sure they’re up to speed on newer procedures and policies. They can also look at your home for possible areas of improvement. Some agencies may provide a manual or walk people through a procedure.
- Educate family members/caregivers. Although a nurse or other home health professionals may be the primary personnel to provide more advanced health procedures, family members still should be given an overview of some of the new processes of hygiene they can be aware of, including cleaning and disinfecting any medical equipment. There may even be some basic care or sanitation items they can help with such as adjusting dialysis catheters or central lines. They also can help spot signs of possible infection and alert nurses or a primary care provider.
- Give attention to keeping home surfaces beyond counters clean. Infections are likely to grow in areas that are touched often but sometimes neglected, such as light switches, refrigerator handles, and the area in or around sinks. Pet dander, rotting food or poor air quality can also contribute to infection risk. Disinfecting wipes can help as can calling in a cleaning service. A Home health/Hospice Aide can also help with light housekeeping.
- Limit visitors. Though there may be a variety of well-wishers, someone under home health conditions is usually at a higher risk for infection. So they may have to ask someone to come back who is sick.
Overall, the staff at Above and Beyond Home Health Care is happy to provide advice and expertise in reducing the risk of infection.