1. Universal Precautions

Follow safety techniques and good hygiene habits to stop the spread of germs and infections.

General Guidelines

  • Do not touch a person’s body fluids.
  • Maintain a safe and clean work environment.
  • Put waste in the right place.
  • Use standard precautions and protective equipment to prevent spreading blood-borne pathogens (Germs spread from blood are called blood-borne pathogens).
  • Wash hands frequently and correctly.
  • Wear gloves, apron or mask as needed.

Hand Washing

Frequent hand washing is an easy way to avoid getting sick and spreading illness. Know when to wash your hands and how to wash the person. While you can never keep your hands germ free, you can limit the transfer of bacteria, viruses and other germs.

Wash your hands before:

  • Eating
  • Preparing food
  • Providing personal care

Wash your hands after:

  • Blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing into your hands
  • Cleaning and disinfecting surfaces
  • Contact with any bodily fluid (changing incontinent pads, using the bathroom)
  • Direct contact with person for personal care
  • Handling garbage or contaminated clothing
  • Preparing food
  • Removing gloves and other personal protective equipment

Use alcohol-based hand rubs if hand washing is not possible. Be aware that hand rubs are not effective against all germs so wash hands with soap and water as soon as possible.

Protective Equipment

The agency should provide all necessary protective equipment.

Use protective equipment when you are in a setting that may expose you to blood-borne pathogens. Protective equipment includes:

  • Gloves.
  • Containers for “sharps” which are items such as needles and razor blades. If there are no sharps containers in the home, find a safe place to discard them where there is no risk of needle sticks. The agency should tell you what to do and who to contact if you are stuck by a needle.
  • Double-bags for waste. May use plastic laundry bags. Tape bags shut.
  • Masks

Blood-borne Pathogens

A pathogen is something that causes disease. Blood borne pathogens are infectious diseases carried in the bloodstream.  Blood borne pathogen infection may be caused by being stuck with a used needle or if bodily fluids touch a sore, broken skin or mucous membranes like the eyes, nose or mouth.   The most common blood borne pathogens are hepatitis and HIV.  If you believe you have been exposed, contact your supervisor immediately.

Appropriate use of gloves

Use gloves if you are likely to touch contaminated items. Some situations include when you:

  • Change bandages or dressings
  • Clean areas where body fluids have spilled
  • Touch urine or stool
  • Touch dirty items used in personal care
  • Toileting
  • Contaminated laundry
  • Tissues with mucus, saliva

Application and Removal of Gloves

  • Wash hands.
  • Apply clean gloves, do not reuse gloves. If gloves are not available in the home, contact your agency immediately.

To remove gloves after caring for the client:

  • With right hand, grab opening of glove on left hand and pull glove over fist, removing the glove inside out. Discard glove.
  • With left ungloved hand, grab glove on right hand near the opening and pull the glove over fist, removing the glove inside out. Discard glove.
  • Always throw gloves away in a plastic garbage bag. An ungloved hand should never touch the outside of the contaminated glove.
  • Wash your hands.