This week is Infection Prevention Week, so we are shining a light on prioritising infection prevention. It’s a time to remind everyone of the simple steps we can all take to help stop the spread of infection.
Covid-19 continues to show us that infection prevention plays a crucial role in keeping us safe and well, but it doesn’t stop there – our efforts continue to protect us from surges and outbreaks across so many other types of infection, every day.
Vaccines are key to protect us from infection, but it’s also the everyday things we can promote and do to help prevent the spread of infections.
Find out more about how we can all Prioritise Prevention this Infection Prevention Week and beyond…
We all have a role to play in keeping ourselves and others safe from infection and this is particularly true in the winter months. Our award-winning Infection Prevention and Control Team share advice for everyone to follow this winter to Prioritise Prevention.
Self-care advice is for everyone. This winter, stay warm, drink plenty of fluids and warm drinks, eat a varied diet including one hot meal and plenty of fruit and vegetables. Try and be active and get outside, remembering to factor in rest and relaxation time and getting plenty of sleep. Connect with others by socialising; this includes caring and looking out for others, too – check in on elderly relatives or neighbours to ensure they’re warm and have their essential groceries and prescriptions. Keep your distance and stay at home if you are unwell, to protect others. If you need urgent care, visit 111.nhs.uk or call 111.
This winter it is expected that respiratory infections including Covid-19 and flu may be circulating at high levels, putting those who are vulnerable at increased risk and increasing pressure on hospitals and other health care services.
Flu and Covid-19 booster vaccinations are safe and effective ways to help protect you, your family and those around you from getting seriously ill and help prevent the spread of these viruses. By having your Flu and Covid-19 booster vaccinations this autumn you are helping to protect yourself, your family, and those you care for.
Even if you have had your vaccinations, you are advised to take a Covid-19 test if you have Covid-19 symptoms and stay at home and avoid contact with others.
Find out more on the NHS website: www.nhs.uk.
Antibiotic resistance remains one of the biggest threats facing us today. Without effective antibiotics many routine operations and treatments will become dangerous. So, what can we do to prioritise prevention?
Advice for practitioners:
- Only prescribe antibiotics when clinically indicated, following Pan Mersey guidelines
- Collect specimens when appropriate and reassess treatment when culture results are available
- Talk to patients and service users about how to take antibiotics correctly, antibiotic resistance and the dangers of misuse
- To prevent infections, practice good Infection prevention and control measures including regular hand washing
Advice for the public:
- Remember that antibiotics do not work for viral infections such as colds and flu, and most coughs and sore throats
- Take your doctor’s advice on whether you need antibiotics or not – taking antibiotics when you do not need them can mean they will not work for you in the future (NHS.UK)
- Prevent antibiotics from getting into the environment. Always take any unused antibiotics to your pharmacy for safe disposal
- If you are prescribed antibiotics, take them exactly as prescribed and never share them with others
Make your pledge to become an antibiotic guardian today https://antibioticguardian.com/
Basic infection prevention
Prevention is better than cure, so prioritise prevention this winter by following these key points:
- Hand hygiene. Wash your hands more frequently and for at least 20 seconds. Thoroughly sanitise or wash your hands when you get home, before you eat, before and after using a face covering and after coughing or sneezing. Remember to always wash your hands after using the toilet, using soap and water – alcohol hand sanitisers do not kill Norovirus!
- Keep your environment clean. Whether that is a clinic space or reception area, workspace or home, even your car and possessions, regular cleaning and disinfecting helps to stop the spread of infection. Remember – bacteria and viruses can live on surfaces long after that first sneeze, cough or touch.
- Catch it, bin it, kill it. Use tissues to catch your cough or sneeze, then dispose of your tissue and clean your hands as soon as possible.
- Good ventilation. Keep a good airflow through your home, office spaces, clinical areas etc. Ventilation removes air that contains virus particles and prevents the spread of Covid-19 and other respiratory infections such as flu. Good ventilation has also been linked to health benefits such as better sleep and concentration (Gov.UK).
- Follow PPE guidelines
- Use and dispose of sharps safely
- Handle and dispose of waste safely
- Patient placement – assess patients/residents infection risk and isolate accordingly (if safe to do so)
- Follow the new IPC manual: https://www.england.nhs.uk/national-infection-prevention-and-control-manual-nipcm-for-england/
By following these steps you’ll be doing your bit to Prioritise Prevention and reduce the spread of viruses this winter. For more information on Infection Prevention and Control (IPC), visit our website www.wchc.nhs.uk.