beyond the video

Home Care—Infection Control

Video summary
This video quickly lists basic techniques for preventing infections and illness when caring for someone at home.

The most important rule is to thoroughly wash your hands:

  • After using the bathroom
  • Before handling food
  • Whenever you have covered your mouth with your hand (coughing or sneezing)
  • After any patient care

Thoroughly washing your hands involves these steps:

  • Run warm water over your hands.
  • Extract antibacterial soap (preferably from a pump bottle) and work up a good lather.
  • Starting with your fingertips, work the soap into your hands right up to your wrists. Pay particular attention to fingernails and the area around rings.
  • After thoroughly rinsing your hands, tear off a paper towel and dry your hands well.
  • Turn off the faucet with the used paper towel before discarding it.

Other infection control tips included these for the kitchen:

  • Disinfect kitchen counters by wiping them with a disinfectant spray (Home-made version is 1/2 cup of bleach to 4-1/2 cups of water).
  • Use a dishwasher to sanitize dishes, or if you wash them by hand, use lots of soapy water.
  • Inspect and wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly.
  • Properly handle and store leftovers, discarding outdated items.

Safety in the bathroom includes:

  • Disinfecting countertops and exposed surfaces
  • Removing clutter
  • Eliminating throw rugs
  • Adding safety rails and perhaps a raised toilet seat

When bathing a patient at home, it's important to:

  • Inspect his skin for red or tender areas, open sores, and rashes. Pay particular attention to elbows, shoulder blades and heels.
  • Dry the patient's skin thoroughly after bathing and end with powder or lotion according to his preference.
  • Consider adding a backrub to stimulate his circulation and relax him.

Mouth care is another important element in infection control. If you notice sore or bleeding gums, loose teeth, bad breath or unusually dry lips and gums, it may be a sign of a problem that needs evaluation.

Proper foot care, particularly for diabetics, is also important. Watch for circulatory problems that may be indicated by lack of warmth or unusual coloring in the feet. Pay particular attention to wounds, blisters and ingrown toenails. If a person spends a lot of time in bed, wearing soft cotton socks in bed can help prevent heel sores.

Applying the video to your own situation

  • If you are caring for someone at home, is there anything you will do differently as a result of seeing this video? If so, what?
  • Did you know that thorough hand washing is the #1 preventive technique against infection? Are you as thorough as the video says we need to be? If not, will you be more thorough now?
  • What safety measures for kitchen and bathroom do you already practice or have in place? What will you consider changing?
  • Most people probably don't think of teeth and feet as key areas for keeping infections at bay. Is there anything you will do differently now?

Adapted from: Coming Home: Basic Information for The Home Caregiver; Home Care Institute of Kansas, Lawrence, KS

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Beyond the Video

The most important rule is to thoroughly wash your hands.