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The 5 Moments of Hand Hygiene

The 5 Moments of Hand Hygiene

In pandemic times, to tell people to wash their hands more is insufficient. Even the message of how to wash is lacking enough detail, although the video of the black shoe polish on gloves doing the rounds on social media is an excellent illustration of our potential hand hygiene deficiencies.

As this pandemic takes hold and responses are adapted daily, our interactions with each other become less and less. Aged Care visit restrictions are a key example of this. There is no longer anywhere to hide in these situations- the onus for keeping the vulnerable well and unexposed to Covid-19 lies with the people the workers providing daily care, more than ever before. And the message isn't just for nurses, PCAs and Allied Health- at this time, all workers, volunteers, and consumers are each important in the Corona clash.

More and how are excellent messages, but specifically when to perform hand hygiene, is the missive often forgotten in times of stress, anxiety, and overwork. The experience of those undertaking hand hygiene audits in healthcare environments is that many workers know how to wash their hands, but failure comes because they are not being cleaned at the right time, every time. Moments of hand hygiene are essential to successful infection control in unexceptional circumstances but are critical in times where COVID-19 infection in our vulnerable could lead, without exaggeration, to death.

The critical messages for COVID_19 do not waiver from ordinary hygiene advice that microorganisms can exist on the living and the nonliving, including

  • Medical equipment
  • Food and food handling equipment
  • Dirty linen
  • Door handles
  • Handrails
  • Telephones
  • Used tissues

Thus, transfer can occur from one person to another person and from the environment and health care equipment, even when the hands and equipment look clean.

5 Moments of Hand Hygiene is an evidence-based program developed by the World Health Organisation, and adapted by Hand Hygiene Australia, detailing when Hand Hygiene should be performed in the health care setting.

The 5 Moments are:

  1. Before touching a consumer
  2. Before a procedure
  3. After a procedure or body fluid exposure risk
  4. After touching a consumer
  5. After touching a consumer's surroundings

The consumer should see you perform hand hygiene as you approach them -they will know that your hands are clean, and an expectation is set up for all to perform hand hygiene to the same standard.

Hand hygiene should also be performed before:

  • Starting/leaving work
  • Eating/handling of food/drinks
  • Using shared equipment (e.g., computers and phones)
  • Hands become visibly soiled
  • Removing gloves
  • Handling laundry/equipment/waste
  • Blowing/wiping/touching nose and mouth
  • Going to the toilet


Remember that it isn't necessarily about who or what you touched last, but who or what you could touch next.

For more detailed information about hand hygiene and how to ensure your team is updated with accurate information, please go to or free call 1300 952 433.

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