Minimise the Risk of Cross-infection with Correct Glove Use

A US study has shown that failure to change gloves after providing personal care is common amongst care home workers and may be a significant factor in the spread of potentially harmful bacteria.

The study, carried out at the University of Iowa, reviewed glove use by 74 care staff working within care homes and found inappropriate glove use to be commonplace.

Using the Glove Use Surveillance Tool, the authors found that carers failed to change gloves at 66% of glove change points, meaning that the same gloves were often used for multiple tasks and could potentially contaminate surfaces and transmit bacteria to other residents.

Lead author Deborah Patterson-Burdsall said ‘Glove use behaviour is as important as hand washing when it comes to infection prevention’ and recommended that glove use should be monitored alongside hand hygiene and the findings shared with the staff involved.

Read on to learn more effective glove use the steps you can take to minimise cross-contamination within your service.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is routinely provided within care homes but unless it is used correctly, its effectiveness is severely limited. As well as making PPE available, you must ensure that staff know and follow appropriate guidelines for its use and particular, when to change and how to dispose of gloves.

4 Steps to Ensure Staff Use Gloves Correctly

  1. Change Gloves After Every Contact: Carers must understand that gloves should always be removed and disposed of at the end of a task in order to prevent the transmission of infection. Washing gloved hands is no substitute and some detergents and alcohol gels can actually damage gloves.
  2. Clean Hands Between Uses: Dirty hands can easily contaminate clean gloves if hands are not cleaned between use. Gloves often develop small tears, meaning that hands may come into contact with body fluids during care, so using alcohol gel or washing with soap and water between glove changes will reduce the risk.
  3. Audit Glove Use: You may already carry out hand hygiene audits but auditing glove use is just as important. Observing staff practice whilst personal care is being provided will provide useful information about glove use that can improve your infection control practice.
  4. Share Your Findings: Ensure that the results of your audits are shared with you team so that findings can be embedded into practice. Ingrained habits can be challenged and good practice shared to help all of your team work to the same high standard.

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