6 Innovative Ways to Improve Hand Hygiene in Australian Hospitals

person wash hand

Your hand hygiene compliance numbers keep flatlining? No good.

A number of clinical studies show adherence to hand hygiene practices directly leads to a drop in hospital infection rates.

While the risk of hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) affects over 180,000 Australian patients a year.

The outcame? It’s often deadly. The HAIs are a grand scale issue contributing to 80,000 deaths yearly in the USA and 5,000 in the UK.

Just enough to get us thinking.

However, seeing your compliance rates pick up is far from coming along easy. You need to dedicate resources and assemble a committed project team.

There are only a few worse scenarios than seeing your investments go down the toilet. And handling an issue having to do with sustaining human lives only makes matters more pressing.

So, you want to make sure your compliance strategies stand a chance of success. And if you take a multimodal approach, you can’t go wrong.

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Lean On the World Health Organisation’s Multimodal Hand Hygiene Compliance Approach

Take a Fresh Look at Hand Hygiene Improvement in the Hospital Setting

Lean On the World Health Organisation’s Multimodal Hand Hygiene Compliance Approach

Multiple studies have confirmed the effectiveness of the World Health Organisation’s multimodal approach in increasing compliance rates and reducing HAIs.

According to WHO key elements of a successful hand hygiene compliance strategy are:

  • Introduce infrastructural changes such as improvements in hand care product accessibility
  • Educate and train your staff on proper hand washing techniques
  • Monitor their compliance and provide active performance feedback
  • Put up and distribute hand washing reminders throughout the hospital
  • Create an organisational culture that prioritises good hand washing practices
  • Set individual and group level compliance improvement goals
  • Introduce reward incentives to encourage positive behaviour
  • Create a hospital climate that emphasises individual and unit level accountability

The above list will give you a sense of what to base your strategy on.

But hospitals are launching some very interesting initiatives nowadays to tackle non-compliance issues. There’s a growing current of creative, fresh approaches to the topic.

And we did the research for you. You’d be surprised how deft some hospitals were in coming up with their solutions.

So, let’s jump right in.

Take a Fresh Look at Hand Washing Improvement in the Hospital Setting

1. Use Alcohol-Based Hand Rubs as the First Line of Defence

Using alcohol-based hand rubs (ABHRs) is the recommended method of cleaning hands in healthcare. Practice shows this hand sanitising method lends itself to clinical use.

Alcohol hand rinses are shown to increase adherence to recommended hand washing practices. Hand Hygiene Australia’s initiative has upped Australian compliance numbers from 50% to 75.7% in three years time. The core reason of this upswing was introducing ABHR as the preferred method.

So what it’s all about?

Extensive research suggests the use of ABHRs over soap and water because of the following advantages they bring. They:

  • Allow for hand cleaning that is less time-consuming
  • Can be installed at any point of care for added convenience
  • Help reduce the instances of hand irritation
  • Require fewer resources and are the most cost effective alternative
bacterial reduction chart

Image from slideplayer.com

Or think about it this way. Soap and water are indispensable for medical staff when their hands are visibly unclean. They’re not recommended in just about any clinical situation.

Traditional hand washing will take 20 seconds for rubbing and 20 seconds for rinsing. Plus at least 10 for drying. That’s almost double the time of sanitising hands with a hand rub.

So a hand rub is a time-saving tool when many hand washing events are required.

Now to put this into perspective. Let’s look at the average frequency of medical staff contact with patients. A 2012 research found the hourly patient room entries ranged between 0 to 28 per patient. While 45% of those visits were made by nursing staff.

Fresh & Clean is a reliable supplier of automatic hand sanitiser dispensers. They meet even the stringent healthcare industry requirements. But let’s get right down to the benefits:

  • The no-touch design reduces the chances of transmission of infectious diseases
  • The units automatically dispense the right amounts of solution required for thorough sanitising
  • The moisturiser included in the formula prevents hand dryness and irritation

2. Boost Compliance Rates By Using Visual Reminders

Healthcare staff can easily lose track of the last time they sanitised their hands when immersed in patient care.

Besides, humans tend to neglect the thoroughness of a task when it becomes habitual. So, a visual reminder here and there about proper hand washing procedures is also critical.

A 2016 clinical study showed that displaying visual signage encourages hand hygiene compliance in healthcare workers.

Want to initiate some action?

Place the signage in areas where healthcare workers are required to wash their hands. Use the following visuals to prompt and remind your healthcare workers to practice good hand hygiene:

  • Educational posters. Display those in point-of-care and hand wash station areas.
  • Informational brochures. Hand them out to your staff and distribute them at nurses stations.
  • Printed out fact sheets and infographics. Put them up on your hospital corridors.
  • Visual in-house notices with motivational tidbits. Use hospital unit boards to put up latest information about how the staff scores at washing hands. Alternatively. challenge your staff by listing results from different hospital wards.
  • Show your staff images of bacterial cultures. Get them to pair the images to bacterial cultures sampled from their hands. This method had a marked effect in a Detroit hospital trial study.

Now, Fresh & Clean offers instructive and catchy hand washing posters for Australian healthcare organisations. Download them now. And distribute them throughout your hospital for better compliance rates.

You can also use fact sheets to clear up any misconceptions around infection prevention guidelines.

Healthcare Providers Factsheet

Image from www.cdc.gov

3. Implement Video Surveillance Systems

Let us guess. You consider this a little bit too much? Well, the Long Island North Shore University Hospital wouldn’t quite agree. With HAIs costing $30 billion and taking 100,000 American lives a year, they consider this a worthwhile effort.

This hospital took advantage of modern sensor technology to track any entrance into the intensive care unit. Each such event triggers the activation of cameras that record  whether the staff are washing their hands.

Next, this data is being sent as far as India where outsource workers are keeping track of compliance rates.

And as it turns out, even science is starting to back this method up.

A University of Miami study examined the efficacy of visual cues in hand hygiene improvement. And they released some very interesting results.

They’ve found that the visual cue indicating a staff member is being surveilled had the most powerful effect on healthcare workers’ hand washing behaviour.

4. Appoint a Number of Inhouse Hand Washing Coaches

In contrast, other hospitals would rather pin their hopes on human monitoring. They engage trained hand-washing coaches who monitor, reward and penalise hand washing behaviour.

Hospitals that are members of the Greater New York Hospital Association are one such example. They track infection control procedures and hand hygiene compliance.

Appointed staff members hand out red cards and gold stars to their peers based on their hand washing performance.

Similarly, the Alamance Regional Medical Center in Burlington USA appreciates the benefits of observer-based training. It’s a coaching method correcting healthcare staff’s hand washing behaviour in real-time.

This direct communication allows them to work out better ways to address the reasons of poor hand hygiene compliance.

Sounds like a good fit for your hospital? Choose staff members fit to be initiated into being observers and train them for the job. Consider:

  • Volunteer workers
  • Licensed coaches
  • Persons of influence among their professional peers
  • Unlicensed observers

5. Launch Creative Hand Hygiene Campaigns

If you’ve tried everything and nothing seems to work, you may have to spur innovation. Sometimes what you need to get the change going is to elicit response from your staff.  Challenge and provoke them.

Hospitals are starting to tap into their creative capacities to come up with true behaviour-changing programs.

We’ll disclose only a few brave pioneering attempts.

  • Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s clean hands initiative turned out to be a great success. The hospital delivered additional hand sanitisers at the entrance and exit points of each patient room. Then they took this further to accomodate the needs of their nursing staff. They supplied some adjacent lotion dispensers and hand sanitisers enriched with a hand-moisturising formula.
  • Connolly Hospital in Dublin has come up with a way to generate a little extra motivation to their staffers to wash their hands. They issue parking permits only to those employees who underwent their mandatory hand hygiene training.
  • University of Chicago Medicine set up a one-of-a-kind Big Wash initiative. This 24-hour event used a high-tech activity monitoring system to track hand washing in staff, visitors and patients. The initiative resulted in 97,000 hand-hygiene events and doubled compliance rates. It included handing out educational charts, stickers, cookies and prizes for units that earned the highest scores.
  • Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre went beyond in their efforts. Hoping to get more serious results, they introduced an integrated system that displays hospital staff hand hygiene compliance rates. Everyone can see the screen readings which are placed at the food court, at all entrances and near staff badge-in kiosks.

6. Use High-Tech Hand Washing Scanners

Think there’s no getting to greater lengths than this? Wrong.

Hospitals across Europe and the U.S. are starting to implement the latest technology solutions to lower the rates of HAIs.

Latest technology scanners and other innovative electronic systems have extensive use in the hospital setting. They can be used for:

  • Automated monitoring of hand hygiene compliance
  • Educational purposes

One of such automated systems is the Semmelweis Hand Hygiene Scanner that gives objective evaluation of the thoroughness of the hand washing procedure.

This latest technology device detects residual germs on hands. And can be used simultaneously for surveillance and educational purposes. The immediate feedback the scanner gives out helps healthcare staff perfect their hand washing technique.

Add ABHRs with an added moisturising balm you have an incentive you can pair up with a digital system like this.

Rise to the HAI Challenge

When it comes to managing hospital acquired infections now is the worst time to rest. The massive rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in Australian hospitals creates the urgency that requires you to pitch into the issue.

Now, gaining a sort of aerial perspective on innovations in this field, you can take a shot yourself. Add some fine-tuning to build a model that suits your unique healthcare organisation climate.

Go for it! It’ll be fun, culture-changing and it’ll pay off. Fresh & Clean steps forward to help you prove your commitment to safety and exceed expectations.

Hire a hygiene service that will help you ensure the highest hygiene standards for your healthcare facility.

Our highly versatile offer of washroom supplies will be all that you’ll ever need. Whatever it is – soap dispensers, hand and toilet seat sanitisers, air fresheners. It’s on Fresh & Clean now.

But wait – there’s more.

Our rental services include products beyond hygiene. Our selection of professional medical workwear, first aid kits and clinical waste disposal units will help you stay EPA and WH&S compliant.

Get in touch with us today and we’ll help you keep your organisation as safe and secure as possible.

Photo courtesy of freepik by @shayne_ch13