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Washing Hands Plays Key Role in Nursing Home Health

February 23
14:43 2018

Image result for washing hands in nursing home

When I was in college, I worked as the night orderly on the intensive care of a reputable and clean nursing home. I saw a number of older people in various stages of their last days or in a condition where they were no longer able to care for themselves.

There are several residents that I have not and never will forget, even though this was over 40-years ago. Compared to most nursing homes in the area, the one I worked at had a lower than average death rate and lower than average of required hospitalizations. Some of the others in the area were dirtier, poorer staffed and required more patient to hospital transfer and more deaths, when compared to the number of residents.

I often think it was because of the staff at the one I worked at cared for the residents and treated them with respect as if they were members of our own family, even they were so out of it that they had no idea who we were or where they were.

I look back on it now and realize that cleanliness played a major factor in our good reputation. The floors and rooms were kept very clean and we were constantly reminded to wash our hands every time we left one resident to care for another. Gloves were only worn for the really messy cases, but as a rule, we didn’t wear gloves (this was before all of the safety issues we see today).

Our parents tell us to wash our hands all the time and with the flu season upon us, we are reminded about keeping our hands washed everywhere we turn.

But does hand washing really make that much of a difference when caring for others, like in a nursing home environment?

Check this out:

“Infection prevention practices centered on hand hygiene (HH) protocols can save lives across all healthcare facilities, not just hospital settings. This includes nursing homes, according to a new study published in the February issue of the American Journal of Infection Control (AJIC), the journal of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC).”

“Researchers reviewed the impact of implementing a multicomponent HH program among nursing homes (NH). They found that incorporating consistent measures that prompt staff, residents, and visitors to wash hands can lower mortality and antibiotic prescription rates, and increase overall hand cleaner use. This study is among the first to assess HH practices outside of the hospital setting through a randomized controlled trial.”

The researches listed their results:

  • The intervention group that incorporated HH measures reported lower mortality (2.10 in the intervention group vs. 2.65 in the control group, per 100 residents per month) and antibiotic prescription rates (5.0 vs. 5.8 daily doses per 100 resident days). Notably, researchers recorded a 30 percent lower mortality rate in the intervention group in January-March 2015,
  • To note, while the study resulted in a lower mortality rate among the intervention NHs, the study leads flagged that the impact was not sustained after the HH intervention ended (2.53 deaths per 100 residents in the last three months of the study, as compared to 2.87 deaths per 100 residents in the three months after the study concluded).

Additionally, they reported that the number of antibiotic prescriptions in the intervention group were lower than the control group indicating that regular hand washing helped prevent the spread of illnesses and infections.

If you have any loved ones in a nursing home, share this with them and insist that follow strict hand washing protocols. It can and will make a difference in how long your loved one OR YOU, will live.

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HLA Staff

HLA Staff

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