Supercharge your hand-hygiene education: Are you a Tough Scrubber?

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By Emily Holton

Fun, fast, challenging, hilarious. Is this how your staff would describe their hand-hygiene education? Try Tough Scrubber and they just might.

In the St. Michael’s Heart and Vascular Program, our traditional hand hygiene interventions were feeling a bit stale. Engagement was low – and honestly, it showed in our compliance rates.

We needed more than a poster. We needed a sensation! Enter Tough Scrubber, the brainchild of our program’s Quality and Safety Leaders Group. A play on the Tough Mudder concept, front-line staff go through a fast-paced, over-the-top simulation that’s tailored for their clinical area. There’s a quick quiz before they start and a quick debrief after they finish… and that’s it. The whole process takes 10 minutes or less. We’re happy to report, it was a huge hit!

We’ve put together a five-minute video and toolkit (available at www.stmichaelshospital.com/toughscrubber) to help hand-hygiene champions implement Tough Scrubber in their own hospitals and health-care organizations.

For our staff, Tough Scrubber opened the door to a new way of thinking about hand hygiene. It’s OK to ask questions and to give your colleagues feedback – we’re all learning. Doing hand hygiene correctly can be tough, but it’s much easier when we help each other out.

To date, 43 Heart and Vascular staff have completed Tough Scrubber, and our hope is that you will too. All it takes is our toolkit, 4-5 hand-hygiene leaders (to run the activity and pose as patients), an empty patient room with two beds, and the everyday equipment described in the scenarios (e.g. a wheelchair, a basin).

In our Heart and Vascular Units, we’ve improved our compliance rate for Moment 1 by 27 per cent in three years. This is certainly the result of a combination of years of education, hard work and many different kinds of interventions. However our Tough Scrubber sessions truly felt like the tipping point.

Emily Holton works is on the communications team at St. Michael’s Hospital.