New care home guidance urges visitors to “wash their hands for 20 seconds”

Portable hand wash units for care homes visitors and residents

Reminder that soap and water washing is the preferred cleaning method to sanitisers

Fresh government guidance has been issue for care homes in England, which applies to facilities that cater for “working age and older adults”.

It sets out advice to support safe visiting.

One of the key activities that should take place the moment a visitor enters the building, states the guidance, is diligent hand washing. To be most effective facilities for this should be made available at the entrance to the facility as well as at key areas within it.

“Visitors should be reminded and provided facilities to wash their hands for 20 seconds …”

Why soap and water is more effective than sanitisers

Hand sanitisers are also mentioned in the guidance – but overwhelming medical advice points to soap and water washing as being by far and away the preferred hand hygiene activity.

Perhaps one of the most compelling reasons why soap and water washing is hugely preferable is that rubs are, to any significant extent, of very limited value when hands are anything other than clean. Public Health England’s Novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) infection prevention and control guidance advises

“Use soap and water to wash hands or an alcohol hand rub if hands are visibly clean.”

A former chief medical officer at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Dr. Robert Amler was recently quoted as saying

“…hand sanitizer will do in a pinch, especially if it has a relatively high alcohol content, but washing is far superior because the physical scrubbing action helps to remove germs.”

Guidance on care home visiting »

Mobile hand washing units for care homes and home care »

The units can provide back-up support for existing hand washing facilities, can be used in rest areas for residents, or in reception hallways for visitors and staff. 

They are easy to use and as they can be placed at point of need are ideal for residents, who may have restricted mobility, allowing them to have access to warm water in their own rooms.

How to choose the correct mobile sink »