By Sofie French, Nurse Consultant at Antimicrobial Resistance & Healthcare Associated Infection (ARHAI) Scotland
Hand hygiene and infection prevention and control go together like pineapple on pizza, a natural fit that cannot be argued. Joking aside, this remains a critically important measure in preventing the onward transmission of infection. Despite marketing and promotional campaigns many people still get it wrong. How many times have you seen someone go for the soap first? Or gel their hands and then proceed to shake them dry? Think about not just how you clean your hands, but why you do it in this particular way.
ARHAI Scotland, part of National Services Scotland are celebrating and supporting the World Health Organization’s ‘World Hand Hygiene Day’ on Friday 5th May, and this year’s theme is ‘Accelerate Action Together’.
The campaign reminds staff, service users and visitors about the importance of clean hands. Working from home has meant we have had to enhance our digital presence, by reaching our stakeholders through email communications and social media. All week we have been tweeting, using materials provided by the World Health Organization to spread key messages in relation to hand hygiene. We’ve also partnered up with NHS Education for Scotland, to signpost staff to their educational resources, on their IPC Zone. This helps break down not only the how but why it is important.
Whilst organisations are gearing to promote and celebrate this day, hand hygiene remains an important focus throughout the year, particularly for the infection prevention and control community. Within Scotland, our National Infection Prevention and Control Manual emphasises the importance of this Standard Infection Control Precaution (SICP) through a series of practice recommendations, co-produced with our stakeholders and formed using an underpinning evidence base through systematic literature reviews.
Considering the COVID-19 pandemic challenges and this modern age, we move forward into an exciting new era for health and care, and with that comes the challenge of ensuring hand hygiene remains a focus, and our messaging is innovative and engaging. Reflecting on past campaigns, we need to embrace this new digital landscape, and perhaps approach things slightly differently in future. Next year we could be coming to you from the metaverse, with an immersive experience revolutionising the way we promote, teach and transform practice! Hand hygiene is definitely not just rinse and repeat, it is a movement, and we invite you to accelerate action together!
Sofie French is a Nurse Consultant, Infection Prevention & Control and Interim Clinical Lead for National Policy, Guidance & Evidence (NPGE) Programme at ARHAI Scotland