Two standards are required for handwashing, one for the quality and a second for the likely frequency to maintain hands CareReady®. An assessment of current practices is a good place to involve management and caregiver representatives from nursing, culinary and housekeeping.
Surfaces harbor pathogens. High-touch surface cleanliness is a critical patient-centered wellness factor. These surfaces must be identified and matched up with effective but user-friendly protocols. They must be cleaned often by everybody, not just housekeeping.
Working together propels team success. Members are selected for their specific strength in achieving the team goal. When reducing HAIs is the goal, it make sense to align the best players with the best components in a winning game plan, a winning cross-functional process.
Handwashing For Life Healthcare remains reeling as it looks closer at the CDC summaries of the annual fatalities caused by infections acquired in healthcare facilities. When answers are identified, there will likely be investment required. Early adopters of best practice solutions may reap benefits by strengthening their brand values.
Illinois, at about 4% of the US population, is expecting to close out the year with traffic deaths around a heartbreaking 975. Now, add the 99,000 acute care annual HAI fatalities with the 380,000 in long-term care, both CDC numbers, and multiply by 4%. That is 19,160 estimated HAI deaths in Illinois hospitals and nursing homes this year. In recent research we conducted with healthcare nursing, they estimated that “80% of HAI fatalities could be prevented with a timely hand wash.”
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.