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Hand hygiene

When looking after your health, a simple thing like washing your hands can be so important.

At Benenden Hospital we are dedicated to increasing awareness and understanding the importance of washing our hands with soap. Maintaining hand hygiene is an effective way to prevent the spread of diseases and save lives.

Our track record on hand hygiene

When it comes to washing your hands properly and regularly, our surgical and support teams are real evangelists. It’s no accident that we have one of the best records amongst UK hospitals for avoiding healthcare-associated infections (HCAIs), together with an impeccable record of zero incidences of MRSA bacteraemia and no cases of C. Difficile infection since 2002.

How do we enforce good hand hygiene?

We complete monthly Hand Hygiene Audits in all our clinical areas and use assessments and training (such as a U.V. light box and torch) in our non-clinical departments. This ensures that our high standards are maintained across the organisation.

Our guide to washing your hands

A proper handwashing technique can help you to avoid catching and spreading illnesses from COVID-19 to flu, norovirus and even food poisoning. Our step by step guide below can help:

1. Use warm, not hot, water to wet your hands and apply enough mild, fragrance-free liquid soap to cover your hands. This will ensure that your skin isn’t stripped of its natural oils and don’t become dry and cracked, an entry point for infection.

If you don’t have access to liquid soap, you could also use a bar of soap (but be sure to wash any ‘sludge’ off it first).

If you don’t have any soap at all, you can use washing up liquid or shower gel. Even just washing with warm water is better than not washing your hands at all, though you might want to wash them for longer than usual.

2. Rub your hands together, palm-to palm. Use one hand to rub the back of the other hand and clean between your fingers. Do the same with the other hand. Rub your hands together and clean between your fingers again.

3. Link your fingers together, facing each other, into clasped hands. Rub the back of your fingers against your palms and repeat with the other hand.

4. Make a fist around one of your thumbs and rub as you rotate it, then swap hands and repeat.

5. Rub the tips of your fingers on the palm of your other hand. Make sure to do this on both sides.

6. Rinse your hands thoroughly with warm running water. If your taps aren’t automatic, you can use a paper towel to turn them off.

7. Dry your hands completely. Paper towels are the most hygienic way to dry your hands but am automatic hand dryer can also be a good option. Where possible, don’t use a reusable towel to dry your hands as they can harbour germs.

8. Good handwashing should take 20 seconds. The NHS recommends singing Happy Birthday twice to help you to keep track of the time, but you can use any 20 second song.

I don’t have access to soap and water – what can I use instead?

You could also use alcohol-based hand sanitiser. You should choose one with over 60% alcohol content to make it more effective.

When should I wash my hands?

  • After using the toilet or changing a nappy
  • After returning from a public place e.g. the supermarket
  • Before and after handling raw foods like meat and vegetables
  • Before eating or handling food
  • After blowing your nose, sneezing or coughing
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound
  • After touching animals, including pets, their food and after cleaning their cages

Why hand hygiene is important to us

At Benenden Hospital we believe that patients deserve to come into, and be treated in, an environment in which the chances of them picking up infections are reduced to the bare minimum.

Our staff dedicate a lot of time and effort to the issue of infection prevention and control by constantly reviewing and auditing our practices. We’re committed to the promotion of infection prevention measures such as pre-operative patient screening and the placing and use of hand sanitiser across the hospital site.