Infection Control

For a person to get a communicable infection, six key conditions must be met. These six key elements are known as the chain of infection. The chain of infection can be broken by taking away just one of the six required elements.

Hand washing

Hand washing is the most important method of preventing the spread of infection. For hand washing to be effective in preventing the spread of infection, it must be performed thoroughly, properly, and consistently.

  1. Remove all jewelry.
  2. Turn on faucet using a paper towel.
  3. Wet your hands and apply liquid soap.
  4. Work soap into a lather and scrub hands for at least two minutes.
  5. Keep your hands at a lower angle than your elbows to prevent the dirty water running back onto your arms.
  6. Interlace your fingers to clean between them
  7. Scrub your fingernails with a nail brush.
  8. Dry your hands with clean paper towels.
  9. Turn off the faucet using a clean paper towel.

Because frequent hand washing can cause the skin to become excessively dry, leading to cracking, applying a lotion or hand cream after washing is recommended. Remember, your own intact skin is important to help protect you from infection too.

At the minimum wash your hands:

  • When you first arrive at your client’s home
  • Before handling clean linen
  • Before handling a client’s meal tray
  • Before you go on a break and before you leave your shift
  • Before and after drinking, eating, or smoking
  • After using the bathroom
  • After coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose
  • After touching anything that may be considered dirty, especially objects contaminated with blood or other body fluids
  • After picking up an object from the floor
  • After removing disposable gloves, including those times when you are replacing a torn glove
  • After touching your hair or applying make-up or lip gloss

Chain of Infection

  1. Pathogen: A microbe capable of causing disease
  • Bacteria
  • Viruses
  • Fungi
  • Parasites
  1. Reservoir: A place where the pathogen can live
  • The human body
  • Food and water
  • Contaminated objects
  1. Portal of Exit: A way for the pathogen to leave the reservoir
  • Through the digestive tract in feces, saliva, or vomit
  • Through the respiratory tract in mucus or sputum
  • Through the urinary or reproductive tract in urine, semen, or vaginal secretions
  • Through the skin in blood, pus, or wound drainage
  1. Method of transmission: A way for the pathogen to get from one person to another
  • By touching an infected person
  • By breathing infected air
  • By eating or drinking contaminated food or fluids
  • By touching contaminated objects
  • By vectors, such as mosquitoes, rodents, and ticks
  1. Portal of Entry: A way for the pathogen to enter the new person’s body
  • Through the digestive tract
  • Through the respiratory tract
  • Through the urinary or reproductive tract
  • Through breaks in the skin
  1. A susceptible host
  • A very young or very old person
  • A person in poor general health
  • A person who is stressed or tired
  • A person with an indwelling medical device

Risk factors for infection:

  • Very young or very old age
  • Poor general health
  • Stress and fatigue
  • Indwelling medical devices