St. Cloud, Minnesota, named appropriately after a 6th century French monk known for his healing (St. Clodoald), was the site of a meeting of nursing home culinary directors. We were armed for teaching but we learned even more.
Nursing home administrators were introduced to new technology to take handwash monitoring well beyond the limitations of observation. It all happened as part of the INHAA agenda in Springfield, Illinois. Handwashing For Life demonstrated a system called SmartLink™ by GOJO Industries as part of their presentation on practices to lower nursing home acquired infection rates.
Hand sanitizers are often selected by label kill-claims and alcohol level. Those numbers conceal compelling, decision-making scientific facts, verified by some of our leading universities.
First, there is the common misstatement claiming that alcohol hand sanitizers are ineffective on norovirus, one of the leading causes of outbreaks and deaths in nursing homes. A properly formulated rub shows at least a 99% kill, hardly considered ineffective. Using other test methods and synergized formulations, a 70% alcohol level tests as high as 99.999%.
Our current work on electronic handwash monitoring is accentuating the path of caregiver learning from awareness on to forming new unconscious behaviors. Too often, training is seen as the singular factor in changing handwash behaviors. We train, stop and expect results. There are 7 steps and we stop after step 2 or 3.
Knowledge doesn’t change behaviors. Conviction and repeated practice are the key missing links.
The often mind numbing rush of caregivers in hospitals and long-term care has eclipsed common sense when using hand sanitizers. Caregivers have adapted to the pressures to use so often by using too little too fast.
Advances in UV technology are paving the path to everyday use in acute care facilities. It is being integrated with healthcare’s more traditional surface cleaning tools. Trained users remove from a patient room those fragile items that might sustain physical damage. Visible surface soils are cleaned with spray cleaners and wipes. Remaining furnishings and equipment are positioned to minimize “shadows”, those surfaces escaping the direct light-lines. The “robot” is then released for a fast and effective germ deactivation on both hard and soft surfaces.
First to Earn Handwashing For Life's 5 Star Hand Hygiene Award
Chef Peter Fulgenzi assessed his operation’s risk for hospital acquired infections as step one of his study. He then set safe levels on both handwashing quality and frequency. His 15 handsink stations were optimized and he completed rigorous staff training along with a tightening of hiring policies. One gap persisted in his HandsOn process control system - compliance monitoring remained compromised by observation only.
How Hand Hygiene Monitoring Gets You in the Game
Well implemented technology-assisted monitoring of hand hygiene behaviors is a potential game changer in patient and resident safety but it does share one major weakness with its historic standard, secret shopper protocols. Neither is a stand-alone fix. They merely provide an assessment of current behaviors and evidence of the current patient-care culture.