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Clean hands protect against infection Essay

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In health and social care settings there is a specific handwashing technique that employees are obliged to do, this technique is a step by step process that ensures that all areas of the hands have been covered. The process starts with turning on the tap and rinsing your hands then adding the soap. Following this is the process of washing the palms of your hands, the back of your hands, between the fingers, your nails, thumbs, the center of your palms and then finishing off with your wrists.

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After, rinse your hands with your fingers facing up, so the water runs down towards your elbows. This is important because it helps to prevent the recontamination of your hands from the other bacteria, further up your arm, that was not washed properly. Most health and social care settings will have tapes that have long handled on, It is advised to turn off the tap using your elbows this ensures that your hands do not get contaminated again.

Use of Alcohol Gels and Antiseptics
In health and social care settings, it is important to know the different situations in which you can either use antiseptics (soap and water) or gel. It is appropriate to use antiseptics for almost all situations such as before and after eating, visiting patients and medical visits. However, alcohol gels can only be used for visiting patients and medical visits. According to livescience.com (2017) states that “While antibacterial gels can quickly reduce the number of germs on your hands, they do not eliminate all types of germs.”

Hand Drying
It is important that an individual in the health and social care setting to always dry their hands thoroughly with a one-use paper towel. At the end of the hand washing technique, there is a certain way of drying the wet hands. To dry your hands properly it is advised to pat the disposable paper towel along all the wet areas on your hands e.g. palms, between fingers and under and around the nails. This drying technique ensures that there is no moister left for bacteria to thrive.

Skin Care
Skin care is extremely vital for employees working in health and social care settings. The continuous procedure of the washing of hands can cause an individual’s skin to dry, which then leads to irritation and breaks in the surface of the skin which can be gateways for bacteria. Michie et al (2008) advises that “using emollient hand cream which softens and soothes the skin and protects it from drying” he also states that, “hand creams should not be shared because there is a risk of cross-contamination”

Facilities Required
There should be separate facilities for the procedures of washing and drying hands

Use of appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE)
There are many different types of PPE’s that are used for different duties depending on their levels of risks, (Classroom Notes, 2017). The use of PPE’ s such as gloves and aprons are ways to help protect against infections among employees and service users. Wearing well-fitted gloves on placement is important as they potentially help to reduce the amount of skin contact that body fluid may reach. Michie et al (2008) state that, “washing gloves are not safe and hands must always be washed before putting gloves on.” This helps to guarantee that the spread of infection is reduced. Aprons are also useful types of PPE, they’re used to shield away things like bodily fluids i.e. blood, from clothing and some parts of the skin. Aprons used are usually single use this means that once used it needs to be thrown away this aids to the reduction of the transfers of microorganisms. Full-Body-Fluid-Repellent Gowns are used “for procedures where there is a risk of extensive splashing of bodily fluids or waste onto a worker’s skin or clothing.” (Michie et al, 2008)
General cleanliness

Personal Cleanliness
An individual on placement in a health and social care should consider how clean they are, as well as knowing what they need to do with their hair, nails, body, and jewelry. Service providers should ensure that their hair is tied back, nails are short and clean, body is washed regularly, and jewellery is placed away. Employees can help service users to maintain their personal hygiene by asking them how they would like to be helped with that situation. For example, if you are caring for a service user who doesn’t like bathing as much try to encourage them by asking them questions such as “what would you like in the bath/ shower with you?”, “do you want bubbles in the bath?”
These questions may help to influence them to bathe more regularly because they have chosen how they would like it to be. According to NHS.uk (2017), “To maintain daily personal hygiene, you should make sure: your hands are washed after you\’ve used the toilet, your genitals and anal area are washed every day, your face is washed daily, you\’re fully bathed or showered at least twice a week, your teeth are brushed twice a day.”

Individuals can help to maintain cleanliness in their working environments, to reduce the spread of infection, by monitoring the areas that they are working in the reporting and sorting out the levels of cleanliness that they have noticed. All materials and equipment used by service providers should always be sterilized before and after use. The sterilization of the equipment’s and materials used will drastically reduce the potential risks of infection as well as increasing the levels of cleanliness of the setting.

Principles of Isolation Nursing
Isolation nursing is the procedure of separating and treating an individual or a group of service users, who are infected with the same infection, away from others who have not contracted that infection. This allows a controlled setting for the nurses to treat people without the risk of spreading what they may have contracted to others around them. Staff working with the role of an isolation nurse must wear the correct PPE, such as plastic aprons, disposable gloves, and masks. This helps to protect the staff from getting the infectious disease, which then helps to protect their families and the people who they may encounter as well. “An assessment must be made of who may visit. For, pregnant women should be asked to stay if the patient has chickenpox or shingles. Babies, elderly people and visitors who are sick themselves should not visit as they are susceptible hosts.” (Classroom Notes, 2017)

Prevention of sharps injury

Examples of sharp instruments are, needles and blades these can cause injuries which are classed as a ‘sharps injuries’, there are procedures put in place for the use of the instruments and for when a sharps injury occurs. Ways to prevent a sharps injury for an employee is to always follow the right steps given for the use of a sharps instrument. As for the employers they need to ensure that they provide the correct training for the use of a sharps instrument. “Since the late 1990s, at least 17 healthcare workers have contracted hepatitis C and there have been five documented cases of HIV transmission.” (nice.org.uk, 2017). This was due to sharps injuries contaminating their blood with other bodily fluids.

Ways to prevent sharps injuries is to know and follow safe practice procedures at all times and to know what to do in the event of a sharps injury. All individuals should know to stop what they are doing, then go to wash and rinse the affected area. They should know that they should never suck the wound as that could spread the infection to more places inside of your body, which may be harder to treat. After drying the wound and apply a plaster or dressing to help prevent contamination. Seek urgent medical advice then report your injury to your employer. Another way that supports the prevention of sharps injuries is to store all sharp instruments away in an organized, secured cupboard. This helps to prevent others e.g. service users and children, from being at risk of harm or injury. Individuals are also advised to not dismantle any sharps by hand, as doing so could lead to injury. When disposing of sharps it is important that you place them in the yellow tubed bin one by one, if someone tried forcing more of it is more likely that a sharps injury could occur. (Classroom Notes, 2017).
If you see somebody not following the correct procedures you are allowed

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