Excellent hand hygiene is a non-negotiable for healthcare facilities. It’s vital to keep patients, staff, and visitors safe. But sustaining a high level of compliance is easier said than done.
Even with audits and “secret shoppers” (certified hand hygiene managers that track compliance) in place, instilling a culture of hand hygiene at your hospital is challenging. You need a commitment from all of your leaders and a collective effort from all of your departments.
To help you build that culture, here are six creative ways you can improve hand hygiene compliance at your hospital.
Healthy competition is an excellent way to get everybody engaged in something. People want to win, and the people that want to win the most become motivated to hold others on their team accountable.
Quarterly competitions between departments are a fun and effective way to improve hand hygiene compliance at your hospital. You can do this by collecting the audits from your certified hand hygiene managers, who observe and record how well teams are adhering to the proper hand hygiene practices. At the end of each month, you can report who’s leading the competition based on compliance percentage and then announce a winner at the end of each quarter. Make sure you give the winners a popular reward that keeps teams motivated.
You’ll find that teams find ways to hold themselves accountable, and the entire attitude around hand hygiene at your hospital will become fun and urgent.
Electronic Message Boards (EMBs)
Using digital screen displays (known as electronic message boards) across your facility can be an effective way to relay any vital information to all staff in your hospital.
At HHS, all our hospital environmental services teams get an EMB to display daily safety reminders, important company updates, and other news and information. We also regularly include reminders about the importance of hand hygiene.
You can also track and display your interdepartmental competition results for an extra kick of motivation.
EMBs will never replace signage. You can only put an EMB in so many places, but you can put up flyers and posters virtually anywhere. Plus, they can have a significant impact.
Some great places to post signage include bathrooms, nurses’ stations, hand sanitizing stations, or anywhere someone is entering or exiting a room or department.
Suppose your hand hygiene compliance is low, or you’re trying to reduce the number of HAIs at your hospital, and you don’t have any signage up encouraging hand hygiene. In that case, putting up some flyers or posters is a quick and simple first step that can make an immediate difference.
If you need some posters to hang, check out this resource from Becker’s Hospital Review that lists 10 hand hygiene posters you can use in your facility.
You can also download this handwashing 101 poster we've created for you (completely for free). This is great to hang up in public places as well.
Make it a part of your rounding
Whenever you’re rounding your hospital, make a habit of reminding all your team members to practice good hand hygiene. This is a small change, but encouraging habit-forming behavior will help instill proper hand hygiene practices into your hospital’s culture.
Mention it in every single huddle and meeting
Any time you’re having a huddle or meeting with team members or department leaders, make a point to mention hand hygiene. If you’re having a competition, it’s a great time to acknowledge monthly and quarterly winners. You can present them with a coveted trophy or reward to bring in that competitive spirit and get more people engaged.
Include checking sanitizer expiration dates on your
Environment of Care rounds checklists
Though this doesn’t directly impact hand hygiene compliance, it’s crucial for reducing healthcare associated infections (HAIs). What good is practicing hand hygiene if your sanitizer is expired and less effective?
Expiration often happens in low traffic areas, and by including sanitizer checks in your Environment of Care (EOC) rounds, you can ensure every station is in compliance. To make it a little easier, you can print the expiration date on a label that you can place on the outside of the bag or dispenser. That way, it’s easy to see and makes it more likely that team members will notice when it’s expired.
Improving your hand hygiene compliance requires a cultural shift that results in behavior modification. These tips are some great ways to get started, but it’s important to remember it takes a committed effort across your organization to start seeing significant results.