Hand Washing Dilemma

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Hello everyone. I am a recent CNA grad, and long time lurker. I need advice about hand washing.

In school, hand washing between residents was drilled into our brains as if it were the first commandment.

I got a job right away at a LTCF. At our facility there are no paper towels in the residents rooms, so, if I wash my hands after caring for them, I only have their personal towel to dry with. I can't do it, god only knows what this towel has been through.

I have seen a resident wipe his bottom with his hand towel and then hang it back on the rack. (I replaced the towel of course). So using their towel is out of the question.

While in training, the only time I saw the CNA who was training me wash her hands was right before her and I ate lunch.

It's not possible to go to the employee bathroom between each resident, and I do wear gloves, so what do I do? Just not wash my hands?

rn/writer, RN

17 Articles; 4,168 Posts

It's not the best solution, but if there aren't hand sanitizer dispensers at convenient locations, carry your own around with you. It dries quickly (without towels) and isn't as hard on your skin as constant washing with soap and water. Research has shown that hand sanitizers are more effective in many cases than soap and water.

Thank you for being concerned with hygiene. Such a simple and powerful thing and yet it really is the first line of defense for staff and patients.

CoffeemateCNA

903 Posts

So WHY are there no paper towels in the residents' bathrooms? Are there just no dispensers installed, or are they empty and need to be refilled?

Whenever my residents' rooms are out of paper towels, I will just break into the housekeeping closet (don't ask), take a box/roll of paper towels and then leave them on the hall. Before I go into the residents' rooms for cares, I take a few with me so that I will have something to dry my hands with when washing them.

Since we're all being 100% honest here (at least I hope), I don't wash my hands as often as I should (GASP!! :eek::eek::eek: THAT'S RIGHT!! :eek::eek::eek:). If I have an easier assignment where I'm not so strapped for time, I am more compliant with handwashing. If it's a really heavy assignment and I'm extremely behind, it's a lot harder to wash them often enough. Usually in those cases I'm only able to wash between residents who required me to wipe poop or residents with a communicable disease such as shingles. Otherwise, who knows when I wash them. I know it's a terrible habit, but I don't have time to do everything by the book when I have 20-30 people on my hall! It's an area I'm working on improving, though (slowly but surely).

ctmed

316 Posts

Specializes in PACU, LTC, Med-Surg, Telemetry, Psych. Has 4 years experience.
Hello everyone. I am a recent CNA grad, and long time lurker. I need advice about hand washing.

In school, hand washing between residents was drilled into our brains as if it were the first commandment.

I got a job right away at a LTCF. At our facility there are no paper towels in the residents rooms, so, if I wash my hands after caring for them, I only have their personal towel to dry with. I can't do it, god only knows what this towel has been through.

I have seen a resident wipe his bottom with his hand towel and then hang it back on the rack. (I replaced the towel of course). So using their towel is out of the question.

While in training, the only time I saw the CNA who was training me wash her hands was right before her and I ate lunch.

It's not possible to go to the employee bathroom between each resident, and I do wear gloves, so what do I do? Just not wash my hands?

Welcome to the 'real' CNA world. Many of these nursing homes are investments owned by individuals with a private management company in charge. Bonuses for the management is out of is based on profit after operating cost. ie: supplies. Combine that with hospitality (hotel/restaurant) philosophy that certain things like gloves in rooms/ wipes/ etc are not 'home-like' to sell potential families. You get what is going on.

Lord knows if C. Diff ever gets in your place! It's a nasty little bug that speads in poo and can travel from CNA to patient.

Do not worry about what the other 'trainer' CNA does and wash your hands. A LOT. If not to protect the resident but yourself, too.

Bring this up to a DON.

If you still do not see changes - or get shrugged off (RNs and Admins do NOT like hearing how to run things from CNAs), start looking for a place (like better NH, Hospital, etc) that appreciates proper infection control better.

Good Luck.

SeeLisa

2 Posts

Thanks for the responses. I can't believe I didn't think about carrying hand sanitizer around, I will do that.

There are no dispensers for paper towels anywhere in or around the residents rooms, and we only have hand sanitizer at the nurses station. Nothing close enough to use when going from room to room. We barely have enough time to do what we do in the first place.

yousoldtheworld

1,196 Posts

Has 5 years experience.

Yep, a little bottle of hand sanitizer in your pocket will be your best friend, believe me!