With awareness regarding hospital-based infection rates on the rise, it is now more important than ever for health-care workers to clean their hands at the right moments. According to HospitalNews.com reporting, Southlake Regional Health Centre's Infection Prevention and Control (IPAC) department recognizes that the threat of hospital-acquired infections has required an increased organizational focus on improving hand hygiene compliance.

As a result, 'champions' have been selected from each unit within the organization to support the hand hygiene initiative through monitoring and feedback. The champions serve as role models within their respective areas and have agreed to submit hand hygiene compliance reports to IPAC, while also providing friendly reminders to their colleagues to encourage them to clean their hands regularly. The reports document the department's hand hygiene rates and identify opportunities for improvement.

The champions are encouraged to create additional methods that support compliance in their areas and then share their success stories with other departments. There are a number of champions from different departments that have developed their own ways of reminding colleagues to clean their hands at the right times.

For example, a champion and registered nurse in the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit (CVICU) has posted an image of a purple elephant next to every hand sanitizer in her department as a friendly and recognizable cue to urge staff members to clean their hands.

And while the purple elephant posters may not be appealing to everyone, they have still been successful, as indicated by a follow-up survey completed by the staff in the CVICU. The purple elephant posters are paired with posters that encourage patients to 'share in their care' by reminding health care providers to clean their hands, and corporate posters that read, “clean hands, clean conscience.”

As staff forgetfulness calls for extra reminders, constant monitoring and feedback – in addition to the posters – works as an effective means to reinforce appropriate hand hygiene. Audits can provide education to those within that department and offer real-time feedback.

In addition to completing multiple audits, current hand hygiene data is posted along with the departmental target; this is completed by a daily chart to identify progress. If there are any issues that need to be addressed, the Department contacts IPAC to help resolve the issues.