Vigilance on hand hygiene rewarded

5 May 2021

Bridgid Lovemore

Left to Right: Gurvinder Janday, Kaitlin Taylor and Bridgid Lovemore, Griffith Base Hospital

Hand hygiene now has rock star status in our COVID-19 world but it has long been fundamental in keeping patients safe from infection in healthcare settings. Like all good practices, maintaining standards relies on constant effort.

Bridgid Lovemore is one of thousands of Hand Hygiene auditors working in the NSW Health facilities as part of the National Hand Hygiene Initiative.

A Registered Nurse, Bridgid is the Acting Infection Prevention and Control Professional at Griffith Base Hospital having transferred recently from Wagga Wagga Base Hospital.

Bridgid attributes her interest and commitment to hand hygiene to much of her career spent as a manager in aged care facilities. "Hand hygiene is the single most effective and efficient means to prevent infections and it's not just for aseptic and sterile techniques, everybody needs to be maintaining standards including ward staff and even administration staff".

Hand hygiene compliance is audited throughout each year over three reporting periods. Rather than conducting audits all in one day in any one reporting period, audit tasks at Griffith are spread over each month to provide a realistic picture of routine practices.

According to Bridgid, "We always liaise with unit managers, this work is not meant to be covert, but it is meant to capture the routine everyday clinical practices. We make it discrete as possible and we try to keep our auditors anonymous".

Feedback is given immediately on missed hand hygiene moments. Results of the audits are analysed to provide a snapshot of Hand Hygiene compliance. Below an 80% rate of hand hygiene compliance triggers the hospital to develop an Action Plan to improve practices.

The Initiative, however, is about more than auditing compliance. At Griffith Base Hospital, auditors also coach health workers to address missed hand hygiene moments immediately. Bridgid encourages auditors to also outcoach her if she misses any hand hygiene moments. "We need to be looking out for one another, it's definitely a team approach with hand hygiene, and patient safety it's definitely a level playing field".

At Griffith Base, there is a local support group that has been created for the hand hygiene auditors to learn from each other. The CEC has collaborated on a new statewide training pathway for hand hygiene auditor training.

Bridgid is also keen to share results, encourage some competition and ensure actions are followed up to improve patient safety. For World Hand Hygiene day, each department at Griffith Base Hospital is encouraged to submit a poster. The General Manager will judge the best poster making, this event a whole of hospital engagement and recognition of hand hygiene.

So, how is Griffith Base Hospital doing in the Hand Hygiene reporting? The trend is up. For the two years 2015-2017, hand hygiene compliance at Griffith Base Hospital was sitting either side of 80%. Come 2017, the Hospital has maintained a compliance rate of 80% or greater. Since the end of 2018, Griffith Base Hospital has been recording above 85% compliance for each audit period up until the end of Audit Period 1 2021.

In addition to NSW Health facilities, this year, the CEC is supporting consumer engagement with the Initiative and the WHO World Hand Hygiene Day 2021 through its Quarantine Program. Quarantine Hotels have been invited to participate in World Hand Hygiene Day 2021 through creating local posters and running promotional activities.

More information:

HETI Hand Hygiene training

CEC Infection Prevention and Control

National Hand Hygiene Initiative (NHHI)

WHO 2021 Hand Hygiene Day

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