Giving nurses and CNAs a helping hand
Writers rely on pen and paper. Carpenters count on a hammer. Ask a healthcare worker what their most valuable tool of the trade is and they'll tell you – it's all about their hands. Hands can comfort. They provide physical support. Our hands have the ability to impact lives every day. And when you look at today's rapidly changing workforce and day-to-day demands, hands shouldn't be taken for granted.
With an estimated 1.5 billion pairs of gloves used by healthcare professionals in the U.S. every year, gloves are like a second skin for clinicians. Combined with constant hand-washing and sanitizing, the donning of gloves can lead to dry, itchy skin, which can result in less hand washing and sanitizing because of irritated skin. In fact, a recent healthcare study revealed that 88% of healthcare professionals felt they had developed an onset of skin problems by practicing hand hygiene protocols.
Medline recently conducted an informal clinician poll to learn if skin problems get in the way of compliance. While results indicate the top description for hands during a regular shift as dry and itchy (44%), the survey revealed an alarming sentiment, and one that deeply saddens me: 14% of respondents thought about leaving the healthcare field due to irritated or damaged hands. Knowing that some of my colleagues are so desperately needed, yet feeling the pull between being at the bedside and experiencing frustration with their hands, is a harsh reality and one that should not be overlooked.
According to those closely monitoring the growing nursing shortage, figures indicate the average annual need for new nurses will come to about 113,000 per year over a 10-year projection timeframe. Stats aside, the healthcare landscape is very different today. We face a rapidly growing aging population. Our healthcare system is absorbing millions of newly insured Americans. Medical problems continue to become more and more complex. And, because nurses spend more time in direct contact with patients than physicians do, nurses and CNAs battle emotional and professional demands greater than most of us can imagine.
Recognizing skin care as a critical yet overlooked step in a healthcare system's hand hygiene routine, Medline has introduced a simple and innovative solution to help relieve the hands that help others called Restore™. Made with colloidal oatmeal, this soothing agent temporarily protects and helps relieve minor skin irritation and itching from rashes or eczema. The gloves also help maintain the skin's moisture barrier to prevent and protect dry skin.
We all know that clinicians are resourceful. When it comes to skin care, many often turn to their own remedies to mitigate dryness, itchiness and irritation. But solutions often come and go, leaving nurses to test out anything that will soothe and soften their hands. Over time as a nurse, my skin was always irritated; often itchy, dry, cracked or worse, I'd break out in rashes. I tried everything to soothe my hands and I wished I had something like the Restore glove to protect my skin from the beginning.
I use the analogy that “the silver tsunami of retirements is coming to nursing.” Simply put, people will leave the profession and we will lose valuable knowledge and expertise at the bedside. And when you think about the very real concern some have surrounding hand hygiene compliance and the effect it could have on hardworking hands, it adds another layer of complexity.
As hospitals look for new ways to meet infection prevention initiatives and improve the well-being of their staff, Restore is a simple first step. As much as it is absolutely critical for clinicians to recognize the gem in front of them and to always take time to put patients and their families first, today's pressures should give us all pause to consider how we can care for the caregivers.
Martie Moore, RN, MAOM, CPHQ, is the chief nursing officer for Medline Industries. If you'd like to learn more about Restore and how it soothes irritated and dry skin, please visitwww.medline.com/restore-gloves.