Now that flu season has started, staff members are asked to step up hand-hygiene practices
PETERBOROUGH, Ont. – With the arrival of flu season, Riverview Manor’s environmental services department has been asking staff members to increase their hand-washing and step up infection-control practices.
Last week, the Peterborough long-term care home hosted five days of events focused on infection prevention and control in an effort to heighten the focus on keeping hands clean and residents and staff members free of illness. The events coincided with National Infection Control Week.
While close attention to hand hygiene is always important in a long-term care home, it’s especially crucial from October through the winter months, when viruses that cause colds and the flu are most abundant.
So, how often should people wash their hands when they’re inside a long-term care home? Environmental services manager Crystal Post says people should be stopping at hand-sanitizing stations as often as they can.
“Sometimes I’ll walk down a hallway and wash my hands two or three times,” she says. “Whether or not I need to, I just want to make sure that my hands are always clean.”
Hand-washing is the No. 1 infection prevention method, Post notes.
“Any staff member can get sick, but if you wash your hands to protect yourself from contracting anything, then you know you’re not going to be calling in sick for your shift, the residents are going to get cared for, the home will have the right amount of staff that they need, and you’re not going to feel rundown because you’re sick,” she says.
Post organized several events throughout the week to keep hand-hygiene top of mind.
Monday: Staff members were asked to sign paper cut-outs shaped like hands as a “hand-washing pledge.” The hands were tacked onto a paper tree that “grew” throughout the week as staff members made the pledge.
Tuesday: Post put up a poster with pictures of residents and staff members along with pictures of their hands. Staff members were asked to match the hands with the faces to win a prize.
Wednesday: Infection control huddles hosted by Post, who dressed up as a “quiz master” to test everyone’s knowledge of infection control practices.
Friday: Staff flu-vaccination day. Friday also had “donning and doffing races” where teams of staff members raced to see who could put on personal protective equipment in the shortest amount of time while keeping their hands clean.
Oct. 17-21 was National Infection Control Week. Acknowledged every October throughout Canada the U.S. since 1988, National Infection Control Week aims to promote infection control education to staff members in long-term care homes and hospitals.
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