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Infection control and hand hygiene

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Hand washing

Babies in the neonatal unit are a vulnerable group. They have immature immune systems and often have extra health needs. This means they can be at risk of developing serious and life-threatening infections.

It is very important that we follow strict hand hygiene policies to help prevent and reduce the possibility of infections in our babies. Good hand hygiene is the most important step to preventing infections. Good hand washing removes bacteria and reduces the risk of passing them on to your baby, which can sometimes be harmful to them. Staff will show you how to wash your hands using a six step technique. Posters with instructions are located above the sinks. Please help us to protect your baby by following the advice below.

On arrival at the Neonatal Unit:

  • Gel hands at the door before entering the unit
  • Remove outdoor jackets and store on the hooks provided (do not leave any valuables in the pockets)
  • Roll up your sleeves to above the elbow. Remove all jewellery from your hands and wrists (only plain wedding bands are allowed).
  • We recommend that you do not have long nails, or wear artificial or nail extensions.

On arrival at your baby’s room:

  • Gel your hands again prior to entering your baby’s room.
  • On entering your baby’s room, go straight to the sink. Wash your hands thoroughly right up to your elbows with soap and water according to the six steps, rinse off all the soap and dry your hands well. Then use the alcohol gel again and allow it to dry.
  • You should gel or wash your hands again after handling your baby. If your hands have been soiled e.g. during a nappy change, you need to wash them.
  • You should gel your hands after touching any of the surfaces in your baby’s bed space, including the incubator, drawers and locker.

On leaving the neonatal unit:

  • You should gel or wash your hands again.

See the video below for demonstration of six step washing technique:

You can also download the following app which will not only teach you the six step recommended hand washing technique but will also check you are doing it correctly:

SureWash APP - Learn the WHO hand hygiene technique.

Mobile phones

Limited use of mobile phones at the cotside is allowed so that parents can take photos or videos of their baby as part of their neonatal journey. However, mobile phones are a source of infection and it is very important to gel your hands after using it.

If you need to make a phone call, you are asked to leave the cotside to do so.

Infective symptoms

If you (or other visitors) have any cold/ flu symptoms, sore throat, high temperate or vomiting and diarrhoea we would ask that you do not visit the Unit until symptom free.

Vomiting and diarrhoea must be gone for 48h prior to returning.

If you have symptoms of COVID-19, you are asked to self isolate at home, pending PCR results. Lateral flow tests are encouraged prior to visiting the neonatal unit when asymptomatic.

Please seek advice from the Neonatal Staff if you need any more information. We can discuss a plan to support you and your baby whilst you are unwell.

Infection Control Team

We work closely with the Hospital Infection Control team to monitor for any issues that may pose a risk of infection to our babies. They undertake regular assessments of our Unit environment and staff hand hygiene measures.