Hand hygiene - tackling infection rates

30th of November 2018
Hand hygiene - tackling infection rates

For anyone working in healthcare environments, hand hygiene must be a priority - 80 per cent of infections are transmitted by the hands after all. Brian Waligora, ceo at Surfaceskins, offers advice on boosting hygiene.

For anyone working to provide cleaning services within a healthcare environment, it goes without saying hand hygiene should be top of mind.

The truth is up to 80 per cent of infections are transmitted by hands; as soon as you touch a door, you risk becoming contaminated from the people who have used the door recently. Breaking this cycle is pivotal in terms of developing an infection control strategy, as washing your hands only provides you with a certain amount of protection if you then touch a contaminated door. This being said, starting with good hand washing practice is a great first step.

It’s vital to ensure there are plenty of gel dispensers in and outside toilet areas and in places where food is served or prepared such as canteens and kitchens. Patients and staff should be reminded to use gel dispensers at key times, such as before and after meals, and after sharing hand-held items.

It’s also important to make sure these dispensers are situated at the entrance to your healthcare facility so that visitors clean their hands before entering – you don’t want germs from the outside world to ruin all your hygiene efforts. Touchless dispensers are an even more effective option as they help reduce the chances of people inadvertently spreading germs when they dispense the hand sanitiser.

Available soap

It goes without saying that good quality soap needs to be available at all sinks and it’s pivotal you facilitate an easy way to dry hands, such as disposable towels or a hand dryer. Communal towels simply aren’t hygienic and could deter some people from even washing their hands. Another powerful tool is to put up clear and bold posters around your healthcare facility constantly reminding patients, staff and visitors of the dangers of poor hand hygiene.

Research shows only one in three people clean their hands after they sneeze or cough into them. By providing cleaning staff with tissues, and having them placed within easy access in the healthcare facility, there’s more chance people will use these to catch germs instead of their hands.

Holding workshops or seminars for your cleaning staff on the benefits of optimising hand hygiene will work wonders as the reality is, shaming people into compliance is a powerful tool. No one will want to admit to being in the group of people (according to some studies, 95 per cent) who don’t wash their hands after going to the toilet.  Then you can sit back and watch compliance improve as people do all they can to avoid falling into the wrong group.

Adding to this, it’s worth providing staff with annual training courses to ensure they’re staying on the pulse of current trends and best practices. New staff should also be required to take part in intensive training to learn your healthcare facility’s hand hygiene protocol inside out, before they start their role.


Measuring compliance is a powerful incentive for staff as they will understand the link to improved hand hygiene, so inform your cleaning staff members that you’re monitoring soap consumption and/or gel usage. Indeed, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), monitoring hand hygiene compliance is of crucial importance to help give you feedback regarding defective practices and even provide data for any outbreaks. Some innovative electronic systems exist which provide the automatic monitoring of hand hygiene compliance and collect data very effectively.

Better awareness

Boosting awareness of hand hygiene, promoting hand washing and the use of hand gels in a healthcare environment are all powerful factors in improving compliance. But it could be time to look at introducing other more high tech measures to compliment these practices.

Disruptive and game-changing products are being manufactured that could provide a key weapon in the battle against the spread of infection; whether it’s flu or other healthcare microbes such as MRSA. There are special push pad products available, which replace aluminium door plates - these secrete a tiny amount of anti-bacterial gel when touched to go through the door.

The anti-bacterial gel kills any bacteria that may have been deposited on the door and kills them in seconds, ensuring the user touches a disinfected surface not a contaminated one. Door handle covers containing the same gel also provide an effective self-disinfecting solution for door pull handles.

It’s important to note that even the most advanced technology is by no means a replacement for hand washing. Rather, the latest tech can help provide an extra line of defence by helping hands remain clean after being washed thoroughly with soap, or using hand gel.

So by boosting hand washing practices and introducing technical hygiene-focused measures to your healthcare facility, you’ll be going a long way towards boosting overall hand hygiene and cutting infection rates dramatically.



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