COVID, Assisted Living, Health
Oct 15, 2021

6 Ways to Get Involved on Global Handwashing Day

Picture of Rachel Baumiester
by Rachel Baumiester

Washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds is one of the best ways to protect yourself and others from getting sick. This may seem obvious, especially during the pandemic when the importance of handwashing has been emphasized in efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Despite the common knowledge, this simple practice often gets disregarded. In fact, studies show that healthcare providers practice hand hygiene less than half of the times they should. Healthcare providers may need to clean their hands as many as 100 times within a 12-hour shift, depending on the intensity of care. As we celebrate Global Handwashing Day, it’s important to reflect on our handwashing habits, share the importance of clean hands with others, implement proper handwashing techniques in your community, and encourage others to get involved.

What is Global Handwashing Day?

Global Handwashing Day was founded by the Global Handwashing Partnership to help spread the importance of hand hygiene and encourage proper handwashing techniques with soap and water. The first Global Handwashing Day was celebrated in 2008 where over 120 million children washed their hands with soap and water in over 70 countries. This year the theme of Global Handwashing Day is “Our Future is at Hand – Let’s Move Forward Together”. The theme encourages cumulative action as we work towards universal hand hygiene.

The Importance of Handwashing

When working in an environment, such as an assisted living or long-term care facility, where many people have compromised health, proper hand hygiene is extremely important. According to the CDC, many diseases and conditions are spread by not washing hands with soap and running water. Studies also show that handwashing can prevent about 20% of respiratory infections. This simple act can have a large impact on your health, the health of your residents, your staff, and even your family, especially now as we are still in the midst of a global pandemic.

How You Can Help:

1. Wash your Hands

First and foremost, you should be washing your hands with soap and running water for at least 20 seconds. Thoroughly drying your hands afterwards will prevent further germs from spreading, as they are more easily spread through wet hands. If a hand washing station is inaccessible, hand sanitizer can be used. Simply apply the gel to your hands and rub it in the surface of your hands and fingers for 20 seconds or until dry. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol are most effective in killing germs.

2. Know When to Wash Your Hands

Washing your hands often, especially during times where you are likely to receive or spread germs, will help keep you and everyone around you healthy. Make sure to always wash your hands or use hand sanitizer during these events where germs are likely to be present:

  • Before, during, and after preparing food
  • Before and after eating food
  • Before and after touching a resident
  • Before and after handling invasive medical equipment
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound
  • After using the bathroom
  • After cleaning someone who’s incontinent
  • After cleaning any soiled items
  • After contact with blood, bodily fluids or contaminated surfaces
  • Before moving from work on a soiled body site to a clean body site on the same resident
  • Immediately after glove removal
  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
  • After handling pet food or treats
  • After touching garbage
  • After touching your nose, eyes, or mouth
  • After touching your mask
  • When entering and leaving a public place
  • After touching a commonly touched surface (doorknobs, tables, med carts, computers, cabinets, etc.)

3. Spread the Word

Even though it may seem obvious, it’s important to remind those in your community of this simple, yet crucial act. In your next staff meeting, remind staff of how and when they should be practicing healthy hand hygiene. Incorporate a handwashing demonstration into an activity with your residents. Have fun with it and provide different varieties of soap or maybe even make your own soap. Hang posters throughout your building that show the steps to proper handwashing and remind everyone how important hand hygiene is. The CDC’s Life is Better with Clean Hands campaign includes many printable resources.

4. Stay Fully Stocked

In order for everyone to wash their hands and practice clean hand hygiene, proper materials need to be readily available. Make sure all sinks and hand washing stations are properly stocked with soap and hand towels. Have hand sanitizer available in all common areas and entryways. Double check each residents’ bedrooms and bathrooms to ensure they have everything they need as well. Regularly check your inventory and reorder any necessary supplies when running low.

5. Get Social

Let friends and families know how you are keeping their loved ones safe and healthy by posting your hand hygiene techniques online. Share fun pictures and videos on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, or your preferred platform. Make sure to include hashtags such as #GlobalHandwashingDay, #OurFutureAtHand, or #KeepHandsClean to keep up with other handwashing conversations around the world.

6. Host or Join an Event

Spread awareness of Global Handwashing Day by incorporating an event on your calendar. You can plan one on your own that focuses on adding more handwashing stations to your building, bringing attention to the state of handwashing in different countries, or educating others on the importance of proper handwashing. The Global Handwashing Partnership has provided many resources to help in planning your own event. If hosting an event of your own isn’t possible, The Global Handwashing Partnership has teamed up with the Hand Hygiene for All Initiative to host a virtual event to launch the first ever State of the World’s Hygiene Report.

Clean hands can help save lives. That is why it is so important, now more than ever, to help spread awareness of proper hand hygiene. Especially in a healthcare environment when you are in direct contact with people of vulnerable health. Whether you are reflecting on your own handwashing techniques, sharing tips with your community, implementing new policies and procedures in your building, or educating yourself and others on the importance of keeping hands clean, there are so many ways to celebrate and get involved on Global Handwashing Day. Even the smallest action helps keep our communities safe and healthy as we work towards universal hand hygiene.

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