How to put on gloves is one thing, but using them is quite another. While technical dossiers and regulated instructions take care of guidelines for donning and doffing gloves in healthcare, you may have found yourself needing to educate your local community about the general aspects of safe glove use. With healthcare institutions closely connected to their local communities, educating the lay visitor and neighbor on infection prevention measures will help keep everyone — including your staff and patients — safer.
During the pandemic, it’s even more important to effectively educate and change civilian behaviors concerning infection prevention. Here are five tips to help you tackle community education and teach responsible infection prevention and glove use:
Keep your language simple
Long complex words and instructions can make healthcare settings intimidating. Keeping the language and instructions simple when engaging your community is far more inviting. It also helps them see themselves as partners in infection prevention, which increases the likelihood of compliance.
This goes for everything from a short impromptu demonstration by a nurse on how to put on gloves, to a more thorough infection prevention orientation when visiting intensive care, and general community outreach.
Ideally, keep instructions and delivery simple enough for a child to understand and steer clear of medical jargon.
Educate your community about pathogens
Never assume that anyone outside of the medical field understands even the basics of infection prevention. While we learn a lot through our parents and communities, there may be some things you take for granted as an infection preventionist that may not be obvious for people without significant healthcare education.
Take pathogens, for instance. When you’re teaching your community members how to use gloves, it’s worth emphasizing that just because micro-organisms are not visible to the naked eye, doesn’t mean they don’t exist! Whenever you’re educating on proper glove use, it’s a good idea to contextualize the need for them. Gloves help protect us from things we can see, and things we can’t.
Related: For more tips on how to educate your staff and community on stopping the spread of pathogens, check out this blog post: 5 Essential infection control practices for your staff and the community.
Use relatable examples
Before opening up a Pandora's box of invisible pathogens (especially when working with children), it may help to start off contextualizing our occasional need for gloves with relatable examples. You could reference common experiences in which using gloves can be helpful. For example, gloves are great protection when:
- -Preventing hair dye from getting on hands
- -Cleaning up vomit on the floor from a dog or child
- -Keeping wood stain or glue off of hands
These everyday examples of how gloves are used can be a springboard to a more technical discussion on how to use gloves for infection prevention.
Remember what gloves are, and what they are not
Laypeople may easily forget that gloves aren’t a cure-all. When doing any educating on how to use gloves in your community, be sure to include when they’re not useful and what their limitations are. This helps turn them into critical contributors to infection prevention — understanding that PPE, and gloves in particular, is only as successful as the behavior that accompanies its use.
For example, it may be worth noting for them that gloves aren’t a second skin (a common misconception). Washing them after use, as they would their hands, is not a good practice. Rather, once they’re soiled they need to be removed and safely discarded to avoid risking contamination.
Emphasize additional infection prevention behaviors
Any amount of education on how to use gloves will be pointless unless you also educate them on sensible infection prevention behaviors. Keeping safe is about more than just knowing how to put on gloves, and while you may be acutely aware of this, laypeople may have misconceptions about how much they can rely on PPE to protect them.
A simple behavior to introduce as a corollary to glove use, is hand-washing. It’s a great example of how a behavior, in conjunction with responsible glove use, can go a long way to protecting against infection. Get tips on how to broach this topic in our blog post:How to Encourage Hand Washing in Your Community.
The global pandemic is a time of high anxiety for everyone. Working together, we can Outsmart Infection® and a large part of succeeding in that quest lies in effective patient and community education. Through our range of disposable gloves, Ventyv® helps provide infection prevention for those on the frontline.
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