Hand Hygiene

What is Hand Hygiene?

Hand hygiene refers to washing your hands with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand rub to clean your hands. Practicing good hand hygiene is a simple yet effective way to prevent infections.

Western Health is committed to improving hand hygiene compliance at all sites in the region and has developed a thorough action plan with key objectives to improve hand hygiene rates at all sites.

How can you help?

When you're in one of our facilities or homes, watch us and tell us how we're doing. If you don't see us clean our hands before treating you or your loved one, ask us to clean our hands. Even if we've cleaned them, we'll do it again where you can see.

When you come into our facilities or long term care homes, clean your hands at the front door using hand sanitizer. When you're going from one room to another or one part of a hospital or long term care home to another, clean your hands again. Use soap and water or hand sanitizer.



Did you know?

  • Good hand hygiene is the easiest and most effective way to prevent healthcare associated infections and the transmission of organisms and disease.
  • Germs live on your hands or on objects. You can spread germs and infections when you have not washed your hands.
  • Washing hands helps to physically remove the germs by friction, and then rinse them down the drain.
  • Alcohol-based hand rubs (ABHRs) kill 99.99 per cent of most common germs that may cause illness.

When should you wash your hands?

  • When hands are visibly dirty;
  • Before you eat;
  • Before you prepare food items;
  • After touching raw meats like chicken or beef;
  • After contact with any body fluids like blood, urine or vomit;
  • After changing infant or adult diapers;
  • After touching animals and pets;
  • After using the washroom;
  • After blowing your nose; and
  • After coughing/sneezing into your hands.

Hand Hygiene is especially important in a Health Care Setting where people are already sick, and the risk of spreading infections is high. In healthcare, you should wash your hands:

  • Before and after initial contact with a patient/client or their environment;
  • Before performing aseptic procedures, for example, inserting an I.V. or changing a dressing;
  • After exposure risk to bodily fluids;
  • When entering and leaving a room;
  • Before touching surfaces or providing care;
  • When providing care to more than one patient/client; and
  • After removing gloves

(see Hand Hygiene Handout)

It is ok to ask health care workers if they have washed their hands!