HomeLONGTERM CareLongterm CareJazzing up the hand hygiene message

Jazzing up the hand hygiene message

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Creative Compliance – St. Joseph’s Health Care London is jazzing up an age-old message to protect everyone from the spread of infection.

By Amanda Jackman

Hospitals across Ontario have been tasked with increasing their hand hygiene compliance rates – that is to ensure clinical staff are cleaning their hands at the right moment. St. Joseph’s Health Care London (St. Joseph’s) has taken the clean hands message to a new level by using creative ideas to increase awareness.

“We have seen hand hygiene police – auditors with lights and sirens – we’ve seen handprint pledges and most recently Elvis was in the building spreading the word,” says Rhodora Laylo, coordinator, Infection Safety. “We have been reenergizing our message to move results –and it’s been working.”

Elvis, Rev. Matthew Martin of Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Lucan, Ontario, arrived at St. Joseph’s during National Infection Prevention Week, working his way through several St. Joseph’s sites. With a dazzling teal jumpsuit, Elvis-esq sideburns and curved lip, Martin serenaded staff, patients and visitors with his impressive vocals only pausing to pump alcohol-based hand rub into people’s hands and to crack the occasional quip. “We’re saving lives, one squirt at time!”

Martin’s Southern drawl echoed in cafeterias, lobbies and patient care areas much to the delight of onlookers who took videos and photos and joked around with the ‘King of Rock and Roll’.

“Clean hands are always the first line of defense in preventing infection,” says Laylo. “This was an opportunity for us to send the same message we always do, but in a creative and eye-catching way.”

Eye-catching indeed. As Martin made his way through the halls, the silver on his suit gleaming, he struck a chord for those who heard him. Elvis and his “entourage” of St. Joseph’s staff members, crashed meetings, participated in impromptu dances and mini-concerts and embarrassed staff in cafeterias and coffee lines as Elvis swooned in with his bottle of hand cleaner.

“It truly was an amazing day,” said Laylo. “People were drawn in by the music and the appeal of Elvis but Matt imparted the hand hygiene message to everyone we encountered. No one got past him without washing their hands!”

The clean hands movement even impacted Martin, the newest member of St. Joseph’s Spiritual Care Advisory Committee. “I really enjoyed meeting so many people and spreading the word. And my hands never been cleaner,” he laughs.

As part of St. Joseph’s refreshed hand hygiene campaign there is also a strong focus on patient and resident involvement.

“We want those we care for to be advocates in their own care,” says St. Joseph’s CEO, Dr. Gillian Kernaghan. “Our clinicians wear buttons that say “Please Remind Me” with our hand hygiene logo. We have added new signage to our sanitizing stations and even wrapped our elevators with larger-than-life images of our care providers and patients – calling out the importance of clean hands. We want patients and family members to know that it is absolutely ok to ask their care provider if they washed their hands,” states Dr. Kernaghan.

As part of St. Joseph’s strategic plan, the relentless pursuit of safety is a key focus for staff and physicians. Because of this commitment, and the creative ideas from across the organization, St. Joseph’s took a giant step forward in their hand hygiene rates for moment one – before initial patient contact. “We set a goal of 95 per cent,” says Laylo. “And we surpassed it!”

“The dedication of our teams is obvious,” says Dr. Kernaghan. “Moving an organization of more than 4,000 people by three per cent, since we began our extra efforts, is no easy task. Our staff and physicians have aspired to do better, to go further, to challenge each other and attain this significant goal.”

St. Joseph’s takes is  its responsibility to protect the vulnerable patients they care for very seriously by ensuring they don’t spread healthcare associated infections; and hand hygiene is the most effective way to prevent the spread of disease.

In order to keep the energy up St. Joseph’s created the Hand Hygiene High Achievers Club, where departments who achieve the goal of 95 per cent or higher are inducted into the club and featured every quarter. They also receive a certificate of recognition.

Now, St. Joseph’s is tasked with keeping the momentum going, continuing the relentless pursuit of safety and always doing as Elvis does – being ‘hound dog’ for hand hygiene.


Amanda Jackman

Communication Consultant

St. Joseph’s Health Care London

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