Don’t Let Hand Hygiene Standards Dip When COVID-19 Ebbs

May 8, 2020
Deborah Chung

Most healthcare staff understand the importance of hand washing, but visual cues for staff and patients are essential in the ongoing education of hand hygiene best practices and are especially helpful for nurses working long shifts. 

As communities move into the next phase of COVID-19, healthcare organizations must keep hand hygiene top of mind in all environments to ensure patient and employee safety, and to ultimately reduce the risk of cross-contamination and HAIs.

Keeping healthcare staff informed of the latest protocols and essential hygiene measures will have a profound impact on the post-pandemic world, but driving behavioural change can be extremely challenging. To achieve hand hygiene compliance, healthcare facilities should focus on three areas:

·       Hygiene training 

·       Hygiene tools and dispenser placement 

·       Signage 

With 40% of surveyed healthcare workers saying they would like better training in hand hygiene, healthcare facilities can combine technology with hand hygiene training to help staff easily adapt to the demands of their environment. 

Implementing a technology-first approach to training is an engaging and interactive way to reinforce hand-hygiene and sanitization protocols within a facility. According to educational technology pioneer Edgar Dale, learning by doing (direct, purposeful experience) is essential to keeping learners actively engaged as opposed to being passive observers. In fact, the University of Oklahoma created a similar learning hierarchy that emphasizes the usefulness of virtual reality in the learning process today. Virtual reality apps are a readily available and effective means to reinforce the World Health Organization’s “5 Moments of Hand Hygiene.” These apps can serve as an innovative alternative to hand hygiene training. 

It is equally important to consider the critical factors of hygiene access in a facility, such as location of hygiene tools and hand-washing stations. Dispenser placement is key to promoting hand hygiene compliance within a healthcare environment. 

It is imperative that dispensers are placed throughout walking routes and corridors to ensure accessibility for nurses and other staff on-the-go. Increasing the accessibility and visibility of hand hygiene stations throughout a facility can have a significant impact on hand hygiene practices without adding an extra burden to your environmental services staff (EVS). 

Most healthcare staff understand the importance of hand washing, but visual cues for staff and patients are essential in the ongoing education of hand hygiene best practices and are especially helpful for nurses working long shifts. 

Hand hygiene focused signage is an effective way to further hygiene and sanitization communication with staff, on an everyday basis. In addition to improving health standards, hand hygiene posters can also have a positive effect on a facility’s image. In fact, more than 8 in 10 patients indicate that the presence of hand hygiene signage makes them feel more confident about a facility’s cleanliness and its quality of care. 

These simple steps can have a far-reaching impact on the success of hygiene compliance within a healthcare facility and takes hand hygiene from an afterthought to a long-lasting habit and routine-as it should be.

Deborah Chung is the regional marketing manager for Essity Professional Hygiene, North America. For more information, visit TorkUSA.com/SafeAtWork.

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