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Infection control information for visitors

Nurse washing hands with handrub

What visitors can do to help us fight infection

  • We know that hand washing/cleaning is the single most important measure we can all take to prevent the spread of infection in hospitals. Therefore, when you are visiting, please:
    • clean your hands when you enter the ward using the disinfectant hand rub where provided
    • clean your hands when you leave using the same hand rub
    • always wash your hands with soap, and dry thoroughly if you use a visitor's toilet
  • Visiting will be restricted to two people at a time at patient's bedside
  • Children under 12 are discouraged from visiting, unless you have permission from the ward manager
  • Visiting times will be displayed outside the ward and are at the discretion of the nurse in charge. Please respect the times in the day needed for patients to rest and to receive treatment
  • Please do not:
    • sit on or put your feet on hospital beds
    • visit your relative or friend if you have a cold, diarrhoea or vomiting, or if you feel unwell yourself
    • use the patients' toilets while visiting. There are separate toilets for visitors
  • Please help keep our hospitals clean and tidy by disposing of waste (e.g. used tissues or sweet wrappers), in the waste bins provided
  • If you are taking your relative's/friend's washing home, please do so on a regular basis so there is no build up of used or infected laundry in their locker
  • We do not support food being brought in from home, but recognise that this does happen. However, we cannot reheat any foods not prepared on site

Video: a visitor's guide to hand hygiene

See how you can help us in the fight against hospital-acquired infections like MRSA and Clostridium difficile when visitng our hospitals.

Video transcript: a visitor's guide to hand hygiene

On of our top priorities at University Hospital Birmingham is to reduce and prevent the spread of infection. Our staff take this very seriously.

Our aim is to reduce MRSA, Clostridium-difficile and other infections and we need our patients and visitors to help us.

Everyone has a part to play in preventing the spread of infection not just nurses and doctors but patient's, relatives and visitors.

Visitors can play a huge part in reducing the spread of infection and make a huge difference by following a few simple steps.

Remember, good hand hygiene is the most effective method of reducing the spread of infection.

When visiting any ward or department, you will be asked to clean your hands on entering and leaving the area. You will also be asked to clean your hands before and after touching patients. This will involve either the use of soap and water or an alcohol gel. But don't worry the staff will remind you about the most appropriate way to carry this out.

All hospitals have hand gel to clean your hands with but these gels, whilst they're effective against bacteria such as MRSA, don't work again C-difficile. Therefore it's important before and after every patient contact to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.

Washing your hands is a seven stage procedure and here's how to do it. I'm going to show you the correct way to wash your hands.

You need to turn the taps on first so you've got running water. Wet your hands thoroughly and then apply some soap. A good lather. Hands palm to palm first and then palm washing the back of the opposite hand.

Interlace your fingers to make sure that the fingers are clean inbetween and then using the backs of your fingers wash the palms of your hands. Then include the thumbs with some rotational rubbing. Then the wrists. Try to do five movements of each and then rinse off the soap under running water. Turn off the taps without touching them with your hands and a good dry with paper towels.

We have these hand gels in all clinical areas such as wards and treatment rooms. The gels are available either outside the areas or within the areas themselves. It's important to remember that these gels are active against bacteria such as MRSA but don't kill C-difficile. So it's important before and after every patient contact to wash your hands with soap and water.

The way to use the gel is a seven stage procedure and here's how to do it. The alcohol gel is freely available around the hospital.

The technique for applying is the same as with hand washing so make sure that you've covered all areas of your hands. In between your fingers, thumbs, and wrists exactly the same as with the handwashing.

No need to dry separately, once it's rubbed into your skin that's it. It's really important because we all see lots patients every day and we're definitely a vector for infection and the more patients we see the greater the risk of infection and so we have to wash our hands between every patient, and that's essential really.

It's very important to clean your hands so that we don't pass on our germs to patients, we don't receive their germs and to stop cross infection. This should be done before entering a ward and when leaving a ward.

Well, hand hygeine is very important, it helps to stop infections and the germs and especially when going on to the wards you should always wash your hands before going on to the ward and when leaving the ward.

As a cancer specialist I'm very aware that my patients have often got low white blood cell counts as a result of either their chemotherapy or radiotherapy and are therefore particularly vulnerable to infections.

Any patient that we have in the ward is often very sick and again that makes them vulnerable as well. So clearly hospitals are full of potentially very resistant organisms and spreading them from one patient to another clearly represents a big hazard to the patients and not transferring them on your hands clearly improves the safety of the patients.

Well, everyone in a hospital environment should be aware of good hand hygiene. Visitors to a ward, anyone that is entering or leaving a ward should wash their hands or use the hand gel. This is especially important if we come into contact with patients it's very very important and it could also save a life.

Last reviewed: 08 February 2024