The secret to clean hands? Sing ‘Happy Birthday’ twice!
Sunday 15th October is Global Handwashing Day, which promotes good handwashing techniques to avoid infection and reduce the need for antibiotics.
Recent research from the Royal Pharmaceutical Society showed that a massive 84% of adults in the UK do not wash their hands for long enough – but all it takes is 20 seconds, or the equivalent of singing ‘Happy Birthday’ twice.
It is important to wash hands thoroughly, as it is effective against the bacteria which cause illness such as stomach upsets and pneumonia, and against the viruses which contribute to colds and flu. It is estimated that 30% of diarrhoea cases could be prevented via thorough handwashing, and of course with fewer infections there is less need to prescribe antibiotics. Over-prescription of antibiotics is resulting in antibiotic resistance, the greatest threat to human health.
The Royal Pharmaceutical Society surveyed 2,000 British adults and this is what they found:
• 65% do not always wash their hands before eating
• 50% do not wash their hands after handling pets and other animals
• 32% do not always wash their hands before preparing meals
• 21% do not always wash their hands after visiting the lavatory
At Care UK treatment centres, hygiene is taken very seriously and good thorough hand washing – for all staff, patients and visitors – is facilitated and encouraged.
Patients are screened for infection at their pre-operation assessment, and if they are found to carry infections such as MRSA or C. Difficile they are given antibiotics and only admitted for treatment once the infection has cleared. It is the main reason why patients are advised to avoid scratches, cuts and bites before coming to hospital, because they can result in an operation being postponed until any risk of infection has gone.
Once in for treatment thorough hygiene processes sit at the heart of patient care. Operating theatres are deep-cleaned and cleaning staff carry out a continual round of cleansing all day every day. All staff are trained in advanced hygiene practices and patients and visitors are encouraged to use the hand gel available throughout the hospital.
The latest figures from the Royal Pharmaceutical Society make for stark reading. Regular and thorough hand washing, especially before activities such as preparing food and after things like gardening or playing with the dog, make a huge difference to people’ susceptibility to infection. Indeed, colds and flu are more likely to be spread via hand-to-hand contact than from a sneeze. We would encourage everyone to take hand washing seriously – 20 seconds is not a long time at all!
NHS Choices has a very good video showing how to wash hands effectively.