As a support worker, you play an important role in providing care and assistance to those who need it most. Your daily responsibilities involve close contact with individuals who may have compromised immune systems or various health conditions.
While it might seem like common knowledge, the importance of proper hand hygiene cannot be underestimated, especially in a support worker’s daily routine.
Why Handwashing Matters
Preventing the Spread of Infections
Support workers often work in close proximity to individuals who may have compromised immune systems or underlying health conditions.
Proper handwashing is the first line of defence against the spread of infections. Washing your hands regularly and thoroughly reduces the risk of transmitting harmful bacteria and viruses from one client to another.
Duty of Care
You are entrusted with a significant duty of care for their clients. Handwashing is a fundamental aspect of this responsibility. It demonstrates your dedication to your clients but also sets a positive example for others on your team, creating a culture of hygiene and infection control.
Proper Handwashing Techniques
1. Wet, Lather, Scrub, Rinse, and Dry
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends the following steps for proper handwashing:
a. Wet your hands with clean, running water.
b. Apply soap and lather your hands, ensuring you cover all surfaces.
c. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds, paying special attention to areas between your fingers and under your nails.
d. Rinse your hands thoroughly under running water.
e. Dry your hands using a clean towel or an air dryer.
2. Use Hand Sanitiser When Necessary
In situations where access to soap and water is limited, you should carry alcohol-based hand sanitizers. Hand sanitisers with at least 60% alcohol content can effectively kill many types of germs.
However, it’s essential to remember that hand sanitiser is not a substitute for handwashing, especially when hands are visibly dirty.
3. Handwashing in Critical Moments
You should be especially diligent in handwashing during the following critical moments:
a. Before and after direct contact with a client.
b. Before handling food or assisting a client with eating.
c. After using the restroom.
d. After touching surfaces or objects in the client’s environment.
e. After coughing, sneezing, or touching one’s face.
As support workers in Australia, your commitment to the well-being of your clients is unwavering. Handwashing is a simple yet powerful tool in your arsenal to protect the vulnerable individuals under your care and maintain a safe and healthy working environment.
Remember, clean hands can lead to healthier lives for both you and those you support.