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15.1b Demonstrate effective hand hygiene

Hand hygiene is an important part of infection prevention as unclean hands often have lots of harmful pathogens on them. Hands can be cleaned or decontaminated by washing them with water and soap to remove dirt and germs or using alcohol hand rubs and gels which kill most bacteria. The World Health Organisation has identified 5 moments when health and social care workers should clean their hands. These moments are:

  • Before touching the individual you are supporting.
  • Immediately before carrying out a ‘clean’ procedure.
  • After exposure to body fluids and after removing gloves.
  • After touching the individual you are supporting.
  • After touching the area or objects surrounding the individual you are supporting.

When washing your hands, it is important that you do so correctly. These 6 steps will show you how to ensure your hands are washed properly:

  1. First, wet your hands and wrists thoroughly using warm running water.
  2. Apply liquid or foam soap.
  3. Produce a good lather by rubbing your palms together, then interlock your fingers and rub together again.
  4. Rub the palm of your hand ensuring that fingertips and fingernails are cleaned. Ensure that the backs of your hands are lathered and cleaned.
  5. Rub with fingers locked, maintaining a good lather. Ensure that your wrists are cleaned.
  6. Rinse hands thoroughly using running water.

You should always clean your hands after the moments above and properly following the steps above to prevent harmful pathogens from spreading.