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I worked in a large district hospital in the south for 7 years on the wards in a non medical capacity full time, as a non NHS staff member I was still required to conform to the ward rules whatever they happened to be at the time. Generally regarding hand gel, it was that it had to be used between patients, meaning once you have seen or had contact with one patient you need to use the gel.
The gel that we used was Spirigel, and that was the standard gel throughout the hospital, in plastic holders outside each bay and through the halls, we also had one in our office.
Not everyone used the gel, In 7 years full time I only saw 1 doctor who was a new student use it, and rarely saw nurses use it. Most of it got used by visitors and some patients who wandered about.
I brought this up with infection control and asked staff themselves and was given a warning for not using it myself. I was advised by my boss to stop asking questions and keep using the gel.
Before I worked there, I spent 15 years in and out of hospital mostly in emergency's,as I got better I tried to volunteer at that hospital to talk to patients in the same situation, but there was no facility to do that. So I got a job there where I could talk to people who had no visitors or who were in the same situation I was.
USING THE GEL
I feel I can write about using this as I actually used it all day every day. It smells like it should of alcohol, or ethanol, and if you put a lot on it can be quite strong. It stings slightly if you put lot on and if you use it all day. The main problem with it is that after using it for a while your hands get dry and sore, so you need to use gloves as well / instead or hand cream.
These time consuming factors may be why nhs staff where I worked did not use it ( 95 % didn't ) or it may be the NHS culture that things just become a habit where people arrive with good intentions then have to copy everyone else as they do not want to rock the boat, as I found out when I I got reported and taken in to the sisters office to be told I wasn't using the gel enough ! Just after I asked a nurse about gel use...
It does work - if you use it - but not for airborne viruses - it would help stop major outbreaks and having half the hospital in isolation for months as the hospital I worked in was if everyone used it, but the truth is nobody except the patients does.
I was on the side of the patients and told the truth, becuase I still felt like a patient, that didn't win me many friends in the NHS and they have a lot of pull.
You can buy the 500ml bottle for about £15 online I'm sure the NHS pay a lot more than that unfortunatley so you could say it was a bargain.
My mum is severely asthmatic, often ending up hospitalised after contracting nothing more impressive than a common cold. It was during a fairly recent spell in hospital that I first came across Spirigel Alcohol Hand Gel, simply because that was the one available for use at the entrance and exit of the ward - I'm a hand gel fan anyway so didn't give it another thought until my mum presented me with a 500ml bottle which had been given to her by our elderly (and very sweet) GP during yet another flu pandemic scare. It's quite funny really, I buy hand gels and use them regularly in a bid to keep my families germs away from mum - while she snubs and shuns the whole idea of sanitising gels as pointless and counter-productive, swearing that the next generation are doomed to die of minor infections that our over-sanitised bodies won't be able to fight off soon! She could have a point, but now isn't the time to get into the whole 'should I?' issue - the truth is that I like to use hand gel to help ward off the nasty bugs my children bring home from nursery/school/college, if I can alao prevent my mum being killed by a rogue flu germ then all the better!
The Spirigel is much like any other hand gel; it contains alcohol so seems to tingle a little when rubbed into the hands, the alcohol also has an unfortunate drying effect on the skin between my fingers - this got so bad with regular use that I had to stop using this particular hand gel myself, although it hasn't caused any problems for my two eldest daughters who have now taken the bottle up to their bathroom at the top of the house while I bought a more gentle product for the rest of us to use.
The gel rubs into the skin pretty much instantly providing you haven't used too much in the first place, a couple of short presses on the pump action nozzle is plenty for an adult sized pair of hands while a single short burst is more than enough for small children (such as my own six year old, her two year old brother would rather have the germs than the gel). It's important to catch all of your skin when rubbing this, or any other, hand gel in - this should mean your application covers the palms, backs and sides of your hands as well as between the fingers and around the nail area. In my opinion it's prudent to also rub the gel up your arms slightly, at least to just past the wrist to ensure none of your 'hand germs' have decided to simply move along a little in order to avoid the encroaching hand gel.
The smell of the Spirigel is quite pungent, in a hollow kind of way. I can smell the alcohol content but it's a watered down alcohol, strong enough to be reassuring but not so heavy that other people can smell your hand gel as you go about your business. As I mentioned above I don't actually use this myself at the moment due to the tendency to dry the skin, but can tell when Charlotte or Alice have applied it as the smell follows them downstairs and lingers for a few minutes - not in a bad way, and in all honesty if I wasn't 'looking' (nasally, of course) I doubt I'd have picked it out.
The active ingredient in this hand gel is ethanol (hence the big 'danger, flammable' logo on the front of the bottle) and it will work after a 30 second contact period, which is roughly the time it takes to rub it into all of the skin on your hands. It promises to protect against bugs and 'enveloped viruses', including the H1N1 Swine Flu germs - which at the time was the biggie for me as both myself and my sixteen year old were concerned about this thanks to scare-mongering in the press. None of us contracted swine flu (thank goodness), although what part the hand gel played in that minor health victory is obviously debatable - shame these gels can't have something added that will make the repelled germs glow neon pink, as visual evidence that it's working!
Personally I find the 500ml bottle a little cumbersome and don't like the appearance of it on the bathroom shelf, this isn't an issue now it's in the top bathroom as I rarely have to look at it - but it's certainly towards the 'ugly' end of the scale when it comes to the design, especially in relation to the other hand gel bottles which are designed for home use rather than in hospitals. The pump nozzle also drips sometimes after use, which we've decided is probably when it hasn't been depressed all the way although this is by no means a scientific analysis and possibly isn't even right - maybe it's just 'drippy'. At £11 a bottle I doubt I'll buy it again, although this is probably a moot point as the huge bottle is lasting forever despite Charlotte and Alice using it pretty regularly - I suspect it will be binned long before the 'use by' date when the girls' find another gel they want to try, this size might be ideal for a hospital ward but not so much for a small bathroom where it takes up too much room on the shelf.
Already established as the hand disinfectant of choice in many hospitals Spirigel Alcohol Hand Gel is designed to offer effective hand decontamination wherever it is needed.