For healthcare workers, it’s super important to protect yourself and your patients
People in the field of nursing and healthcare are everyday heroes who are committed to helping others. In helping sick people day in and day out, one of the risks they face is being exposed to germs. Every day they see patients who may have viruses or bacteria that can cause illness.
If you are working in this field, you know the importance of protecting yourself, your patients, and your family members. What are some steps you can take at home and at work to keep your immune system strong, especially during cold season? Here are some useful suggestions to follow.
Follow handwashing guidelines while at work
The most important key to avoiding the spread of infection is to follow hand washing protocol. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers guidelines, and your employer may have a specific protocol as well. Be sure to follow these at all times while you are at work.
Handwashing at home
By the time you get home from work, you are probably tired of washing your hands, but it’s still important to maintain good hand hygiene at home. Here are some important times to wash your hands:
- After using the rest room
- When you come in from outside
- After being on public transportation or in public buildings
- After gardening
- After taking out the trash
- After shaking hands
- Before making meals
- After housework
- After feeding your pets
- After helping a sick family member
Try not to touch your face
One of the ways that germs can get into your system is through your mucous membranes, such as those in your nose, mouth, and eyes. During cold season (and throughout the year), try not to touch your face. Try to break habits like rubbing your eyes, licking your finger to turn a page, biting your nails, or itching your nose. The less you touch your face, the less likely you are to let germs in.
Flu shots for you and your family
For nurses and healthcare workers, your employer usually requires you to have a flu shot. In addition to yourself, it’s important to ask your family members to get flu shots too. Influenza is a serious disease that spreads easily, so the more people who are immunized, the better chance of preventing the flu from taking hold in your community.
Keep your own germs away from others
Even if you’re not sick, it’s a good idea to get in the habit of keeping your germs away from others. For example, when you sneeze, try to sneeze into a tissue or into the crook of your arm. Always dispose of tissues right away, and wash your hands after sneezing or blowing your nose.
Keep your belongings clean
Consider your belongs and how they might be contaminated with germs. Some ways to prevent the further spread of germs are:
- Take off your work shoes when you enter your house.
- Change out of your work scrubs right away and put them in the hamper.
- Don’t store your handbag on the floor or on your kitchen counter—always hang it somewhere.
- Don’t put grocery bags from the trunk directly on your kitchen counters—unload them from the floor instead.
Get restful sleep
Nursing professionals and healthcare workers often work different shifts, which can make it hard to get in a regular sleep pattern. Sleep is important for your immune system, so do your best to establish good sleep habits to the greatest extent possible.
Eat a healthy diet
Your body needs good fuel to stay healthy. A diet of junk food purchased from the vending machine at work probably isn’t the best way to stay healthy. Be sure to take the time to eat a healthy diet, focusing on getting your fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains. Also stay hydrated. This can be hard during a busy day on the job, but it’s worth it to take short breaks to rehydrate!
Lower your stress
Stress is a factor in so many health-related issues, and it can affect your immune system as well. If you are under too much stress, your body has trouble fighting off infections. Try these stress-relief tips to help you get your stress level under control.
Exercise and fitness are important to your body’s health. Sometimes it’s hard to want to exercise during the cold, dark, winter months, but if you find a way to keep up your fitness routine, you will be glad you did. Consider joining a gym or simply bundling up for a long walk every evening. You will feel better if you do!
We hope these infection prevention tips contribute to a happier and healthier season for you! There’s nothing more important than your health!
The Salter School of Nursing and Allied Health in Manchester, New Hampshire provides training for people interested in the nursing profession. Visit us online for more details!