National applause for doctors, nurses, carers, and other frontline workers may seem like a distant memory, but this remains one of the most memorable ways we have shown appreciation for healthcare services over the past 12 months.

Almost a year on, with a global vaccination rollout well underway, it's easy to forget that our healthcare services are still stretched. So, how can we continue to protect those working hard to keep us safe?

Ahead of International Nurses Day on the 12th of May, we’re sharing 5 practical steps that can be taken to protect our healthcare workers.

 

1) Free up nursing time

A study in the Journal Occupational & Environmental Medicine suggested that healthcare workers are seven times more likely to develop severe cases of COVID-19 than people with “nonessential” roles.

Despite rigorous infection prevention controls, health care workers in care homes and acute hospital settings are at increased risk.

Minimising direct contact time between infectious patients and caregivers during day-to-day personal hygiene tasks is key to reducing the risk of transmission and freeing up much-needed nursing time.

Oasis 'water-free' bed bathing solutions deliver a more efficient bathing process when compared to traditional methods. The solution is proven to save up to 21 hours of care time per week, minimizing contact time to protect healthcare workers against the risk of transmission.

 

2) Prevent skin damage

The widespread use of increased personal protective equipment (PPE) during the Covid-19 pandemic for the protection of health has become a familiar sight, but this can take its toll on skin health. In fact, it is suggested that irritant contact dermatitis is extremely common among nurses, ranging in prevalence surveys from 25% to 55%.

The NHS recommends the use of barrier skin wipes/skin protectants when using PPE for extended periods, to protect from increased moisture build-up beneath a mask.  

Conti Barrier Cloth is specifically designed to deliver intelligent skincare. The all-in-one, wipe provides cleansing and barrier protection, without the need for additional moisturizers or creams.

 

3) Reduce touchpoints

Studies show that the infection viability of COVID-19 on contaminated surfaces can last between 4 and 72 hours, depending on the contact material.

In environments with a concentrated number of COVID-19 patients, the risk of infection via fomites is therefore greatly increased. This not only places further emphasis on the importance of cleanliness but also the necessity to minimise physical contact where possible between those at risk and the materials in question.

Vernacare’s ‘Compact Plus’ offers a completely touchless maceration system for disposable medical pulp and wipes. This helps protect healthcare workers from the direct risk of contaminated surfaces. The macerator also uses a dynamic inflating seal to prevent aerosolisation, further reducing cross-infection risks through surface contamination.

 

4) Adopt single-use

Pathogens such as SARS-Cov-2 are able to survive when aerosolised and remain on some surfaces for up to 9 days, putting both patients and healthcare professionals at risk.  It is therefore no surprise that the use of disposables has been advocated by the World Health Organization (WHO), stating that “equipment should be either single-use or disposable” to minimise the transmission risk of COVID-19.

The revolutionary Vernacare single-use disposable system for managing human excreta provides enhanced protection for patients, staff, and caregivers. With a range of more than 20 different disposable products, the risk of healthcare professionals and patients come into contact with either urine or faeces is minimised, helping to stop the spread of the virus.

 

5) Make sharps bins readily accessible

The Royal College of Nursing are conducting a survey in the workplace to help identify any new or emerging issues in relation to sharps injuries. Sharps injuries are a serious occupational hazard that is affecting nursing staff and at times of stress and exhaustion, such injuries are more likely to occur.

In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and staff fatigue levels, there are more sharps in circulation as the flu and COVID-19 vaccines are rolled out on a mass scale. It is therefore more important than ever to ensure that sharps containers are readily available and accessible to help prevent sharps-related injuries.

Sharpsafe® is ensuring healthcare workers have readily available and accessible sharps containers by supplying Sharpsafe® containers for vaccination centres across the UK, as part of the national COVID-19 vaccination rollout. Sharpsafe® offers a comprehensive portfolio of containers for the safe disposal of clinical sharps, which have evolved in line with healthcare and legislative infection control requirements.

 

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