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mental health & dementia
News - July 2017
Hygienic by design
According to the Department of Health, the number of laboratory reports of norovirus in the winter months to 5 January this year was 8% higher than the average for the five previous winters, and a startling 66% higher than the same period in the 2015/16 winter months.
Unfortunately, this is just one of many highly-contagious infections that put major strain on our health services.
The World Health Organization says better hygiene and infection prevention measures are essential to limit the development and spread of antimicrobial-resistant infections and multidrug-resistant bacteria.
And it considers hand hygiene as a cornerstone of clinical practice, and essential for the prevention of healthcare-associated infections and the spread of superbugs.
The recommendations are clear. They demand that:
- An adequate number of appropriately-positioned hand hygiene facilities should be readily available at the point of care
- Hand hygiene products (for example alcohol-based hand rubs) should be easily accessible and positioned as close as possible - within arm’s reach - of where patient care or treatment is taking place
At your fingertips
Given the importance of good hand hygiene in the fight against infections, the correct choice and positioning of hand washing and sanitising solutions around a building should be high on the to-do list of all healthcare facilities managers.
Mike Sullivan of GOJO Industries-Europe explains: “To be truly successful, they need to combine good aesthetics, accessibility and ease of use, while being equipped with pleasant and effective hygienically-advanced formulations.
“Innovative technology also helps, and that’s why touch-free dispensers are proving increasingly popular.
“Intuitively sensing the presence of hands; they dispense just the right amount of product every time, and the fact that they are touch-free also increases their hygiene rating.”
Factory-sealed refills for soaps and sanitisers can also help in the fight against infection as the product inside is sealed at the point of manufacture, preventing cross contamination from the air or other sources.
The best of the best
The efficacy of soap and sanitiser formulations is, of course, another crucial issue.
Sullivan said: “Suppliers should be able to prove the effectiveness of their products against germs through independent scientific testing.
“Formulations that have been tested and passed in accordance with key hospital norms EN 1500, EN 14476 and EN 12791 provide assurance that they are safe for use in healthcare locations.
“But hospital-grade product efficacy is only part of the solution in helping to improve patient outcomes.
“The high frequency with which many healthcare workers have to use hygienic hand rubs means it is imperative that formulations are accessible throughout a facility, as well as being gentle on the skin.”
Unfortunately, while more than 80% of illnesses can be transmitted by the hands, research shows that 25% of people don’t wash their hands after using the washroom, while a further 46% don’t wash for long enough to be effective.
These startling facts highlight a need for education and awareness on why and when visitors and patients should be cleaning their hands.
Notices and posters at key germ hotspots, such as the washroom and waiting areas, are a good start when it comes to improving behaviours.
But measuring hand hygiene compliance accurately can be difficult in healthcare environments.
In many cases reported hand hygiene rates are much higher than the actual rate of compliance, due to the inaccurate methods of gathering data.
But there is a solution - electronic monitoring.
Making a difference
Paul Jakeway, marketing director at Deb, said: “This cost-effective method is considerably more reliable than direct monitoring and can capture 100% of hand hygiene events, providing operators with precise, quantitative data on actual hand hygiene compliance.
“State-of-the-art electronic numeration can be incorporated into the dispensers, meaning that a wireless signal will activate any time the dispenser is used and be sent to a tracking server.
“It is then possible to monitor what is happening more accurately and determine whether it falls in line with compliance standards.
“Through having the available numerical data, it means that staff are able to collaborate on compliance improvement plans, set goals, and ensure that as a team they are doing everything in their power to improve hand hygiene, and thus patient safety.”