Scientists have known for more than 150 years that handwashing helps prevent infection.  Yet, study after study shows that more than half of all healthcare workers fail to wash their hands as often as (or as well as) they should.

The coronavirus has made us all more aware of the importance of handwashing. However, we can’t change the fact that barriers to handwashing exist in many healthcare settings, particularly home care.

Here are a few startling facts.

Recently, we asked thousands of caregivers, “Do you think you are washing your hands enough?”

  • 67% said, “Yes.”
  • 33% said, “No.”

That means a full one-third of caregivers are placing themselves and their clients at risk by not washing their hands often enough.

To follow up, we asked, “What makes it so challenging to follow proper handwashing procedures in clients’ homes?” Here’s what they told us:

  • 43% reported that there is a “Lack of soap.”
  • And 73% said, they lack clean towels and/or paper towels with which to dry their hands.”

These barriers to handwashing exist in the best of times. But it’s crucial to do all you can to eliminate them during this crisis.

Build handwashing kits!

Give your caregivers the tools they need to keep themselves and their clients safe. Build easily portable kits that contain essential handwashing supplies. Include hand soap, paper towels, and hand sanitizer (if you can find it) and gloves.

It won’t be easy!

Walk into any grocery store or pharmacy to look for hand sanitizer or soap and you’re likely to find nothing but empty shelves. But don’t give up there! Here are a few suggestions:

1. Think outside the box!

Check online retailers such as Office Depot. They currently have large refill sized bottles of hand soap available. Use these to refill existing soap containers you already have. Or look for empty pump bottles at Target or Walmart.

2. Look for retail stores that are currently closed.

Check out stores that have had to close their physical locations, such as Bath and Body Works or Bed, Bath & Beyond. Their online stores may still have the hand soap you need.

3. Search Amazon for “Disposable Hand Washing Paper Soap.”

These small sheets of soap are easily portable and come in a convenient plastic carrying case. Each dissolvable sheet gives the user the opportunity to thoroughly wash their hands, even when traditional handsoap is unavailable. You can get 10 to 12 packs (of 50 to 100 sheets) for $10 to $12.

4. DIY it.

You can replicate disposable handwashing paper soap by cutting thin slices of bar soap for single-use purposes. And remember, it doesn’t matter what type of soap is used.  Because we are dealing with a virus, there is no evidence that antibacterial soaps offer an advantage over regular soap.

5. Look for other alternatives.

Household products like dish soap and body wash are suitable alternatives to hand soap. Keep in mind, dish soap is not meant for long term use and can dry or even damage the skin on the hands. If you must go this route, supply a small bottle of hand lotion along with the soap.

Get Your FREE Coronavirus Training

We care about the health of all caregivers and the clients they serve. That’s why we made two important infection control courses (in English and Spanish) available to you COMPLETELY FREE!

If you are a current ITK customer . . .

Log in to your portal HERE. Search your catalog for “Understanding Coronavirus” and assign it to your entire team.

Not an ITK e-learning subscriber?

Click HERE to request the free course.

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