One hand washes the other!

Germs and the associated risk of infection are especially risky for the seriously ill, children and the elderly. In hospitals and care facilities, hygienists provide protective measures against viruses and bacteria, but home care also benefits from consistent hygiene and protective measures.

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One hand washes the other!

5 Hygiene measures for home care

Germs and the associated risk of infection are particularly risky for the seriously ill, children and the elderly. In hospitals and care facilities, hygienists provide protective measures against Viruses and bacteria, but home care also benefits from consistent hygiene and protective measures.

"There is nothing we give each other as freely as our hands – but empty," as the German-Austrian philosopher Emanuel Wertheimer already knew. However, our hands are rarely empty: Countless germs lurk on our skin. So far, so normal. However, we should pay attention to hygiene measures when in contact with immunocompromised persons in order not to further harm the sick person. Ines Tlusty, specialist nurse for hygiene at the University Hospital Giessen and Marburg, therefore advises consistent hand hygiene to interrupt the transmission chain. Especially if you as a caring relative administer insulin injections, assist patients with personal hygiene, of course after going to the toilet or if you have worked with raw meat in the kitchen.

Measure 1: Proper hand washing

You should always use liquid soap from soap dispensers to wash your hands, because pathogens can potentially survive and spread on bar soap. Hold their hands under running water and soap them thoroughly. Be sure to clean not only the palms of your hands, but also the fingertips, nail folds, the back of your hands and thumbs, and the spaces between your fingers. Soaping hands should take at least 30 seconds before rinsing hands under running water. Careful drying is also part of complete hand hygiene. For this purpose, use personal towels in the private environment and disposable towels in public toilets.

Measure 2: Disinfectant

Hand sanitizers are not essential to protect against "multi-resistant pathogen" (MRE) infections in the home environment, which has its own germ flora that can be attacked by excessive use of sanitizers. The situation is different if a family member is ill with gastroenteritis and only one toilet is available. In this case, the use of a disinfectant can make sense for the time of the illness in order to contain the spread of viruses.

Measure 3: Clean contact surfaces

Brushes, washcloths, razors and other hygiene and bathroom articles should only be used by individuals – not only when they are contaminated with a germ, but also as a preventive measure. Contact surfaces in the home environment and everyday objects should be cleaned regularly with classic cleaning agents. Clothes, especially those close to the body, bedclothes and towels should be washed at least 60 degrees, preferably separately from other people’s clothes. As a caregiver, you should also refrain from wearing jewelry, because germs collect under rings and wristwatches.

Measure 4: Breathe and move

People who are bedridden and have weakened defenses often breathe more shallowly and favor pneumonia, for example, due to germ proliferation. To stimulate breathing, rubbing with essential oils is recommended. Mobilizing the body is also helpful, especially if patients lie down a lot. Sit the patient upright at intervals and carefully pull the arms apart. Light breathing exercises are also effective: ask the person being cared for to breathe in and out lightly or blow into a balloon.

Measure 5: Minimize the risk of infection

Relatives and visitors affected by a cold should avoid contact with persons in need of care in order to keep the risk of infection as low as possible. If this is not possible, pay attention to protective measures: Sneeze into the crook of your elbow, if you use a handkerchief or sneeze into your hand, wash your hands afterward. Mouth and nose protection is also advisable to prevent the transmission of germs through droplets. This also applies if the person being cared for has contracted a gastrointestinal infection: Vomiting or diarrhea releases aerosols that can be inhaled by family caregivers. Wear additional disposable gloves and, if necessary, protective clothing in consultation with the attending physician.

This applies to all measures suggested here: The attending physician can recommend hygiene and protective measures individually tailored to the illness of your relative, as well as networks and portals for further information.

Additional information, tips and assistance can be found here and elsewhere:


Roma Hering is a freelance writer in Cologne and writes about digital, art& Culture and health& Care. For the German-Turkish renk. magazine she also works as head of the Cologne editorial office.

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