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Olympic-inspired torch relay spreads important hygiene message

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Nursing academics from Devon are among those who have attempted to encapsulate the Olympic spirit by taking part in a torch relay to demonstrate how “clean hands save lives”.

The Infection Prevention Society is currently holding the largest hand hygiene campaign to “spread the message, not the bugs” in the form of a torch tour around the UK and Ireland.

“Hand hygiene can be so simple, yet so vitally important”

Maria Bennallick

The event began on 5 May in Scotland, England, Ireland, Northern Ireland and Wales to coincide with a global “call to action” on hand hygiene from the World Health Organization.

The Hand Hygiene Torch Tour is planned to finish on 26 September at the first day of this year’s annual IPS conference in Harrogate, Yorkshire.

Health professionals and IPS members have taken an “Olympic torch” around their area to raise awareness of the importance of clean hands among the general public.

The message that no one should be harmed by a preventable infection resulting from poor hand hygiene is promoted by the IPS every year to highlight the annual WHO Clean Your Hands – Call to Action for healthcare workers.

This year the society said it adopted the torch relay idea to coincide with last month’s international sporting spectacular in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

“We hope that this IPS relay helps to further hammer the message home”

Andy Nichols

The torch passed through the South West in July, when lecturers in Plymouth University’s school of nursing and midwifery took it to many local landmarks – including the Mayflower Steps, the Eden Project and the Minack Theatre.

Maria Bennallick, lecturer in health studies, said the university was taking the message very seriously and promoting the importance of handwashing at all levels of nursing care and health education.

She said: “Hand hygiene can be so simple, yet so vitally important, and it is something that we always emphasise to all our students.

“It’s great that the IPS is using the idea of an Olympic torch this year to reach as many people as possible too,” said Ms Bennallick.

As part of the tour, the university team used ultraviolet light to demonstrate how effectively – or in some cases, ineffectively – people cleaned their hands.

Dr Andy Nichols, lecturer in nursing studies, said: “People are really surprised by what can remain on their hands they’ve ‘washed’ them.”

He added: “Most healthcare settings recognise the importance of handwashing and prioritise it now. Having handwashing facilities, hand gel and corresponding handwashing instructions in obvious view helps, and we hope that this IPS relay helps to further hammer the message home.”

Each of the 14 IPS branches will host activities to promote hand hygiene while moving the torch around the five countries:

Scotland - 5th – 15th MaySouth West - 18th – 26th July

North East 16th – 25th May

Wessex - 27th July – 7th August

North West 26th May – 5th June

London South - 8th – 15th August

Northern Ireland - 6th – 14th June

London North - 16th – 24th August

Ireland - 15th – 26th June

East of England - 25th Aug – 4th September

Wales 27th June – 5th July

Trent - 5th – 14th September

West Midlands - 6th – 17th July

Yorkshire - 15th to 26th September

 

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