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Infection control: How to educate and motivate

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For most health care workers, infection control is a topic that doesn’t generate much excitement. And for many healthcare workers, infection control training consists of a mere one-day module and an annual refresher. Add to this the fact that people are time-pressured in their jobs and often feel over-messaged about infection control topics such as hand hygiene, how can we educate and remind health care workers about the importance of infection control without these messages getting lost in the ocean of information people already receive?

Let’s Go Viral!

The Provincial Infection Control Network of BC (PICNet) decided two years ago that they needed to overhaul the way this material is presented, as sessions where staff were simply given information about infection control were resulting in bored audiences and little uptake. The PICNet team set out to create an infection control educational game that would be fun, memorable, and involve hands-on activities to would encourage team-building and learning by doing. “Let’s Go Viral!”, a Family-Feud style game, was created based on specific teaching goals such as hand hygiene, personal protective equipment (PPE), risk assessment, vaccination, and modes of transmission. Questions that PICNet had been asked during  previous education sessions also helped build the content. The game features a variety of types of questions to keep the participants on their toes: buzzer questions, donning/doffing PPE, a Cover Your Cough contest, and Germ CSI, to name a few.


Packaging it up

Feedback from the participants was overwhelmingly positive. “It was everything an in-service should be: it was simple, it was fun, and it was easy to remember.” “I literally could not walk down the hallway for people stopping to tell me how great the workshop was.” Given the success of the game, PICNet’s next challenge was to reach more people. PICNet has a provincial mandate to provide infection control resources and education to the whole of BC, but travel restrictions meant they could only visit facilities in the Vancouver area. So how could they make this available to the whole province? The team decided to package up the game and make it available as a kit that could be purchased or downloaded so that Infection Control Practitioners, managers, or Directors of Care could run the workshop themselves. And so game production began: PICNet produced or sourced all the game components (game cards, answer buzzers, instruction booklets) and even created an instructional video using a “train the trainer” model. The kit was a great success, with orders received from across Canada. a

PICnet 2

Evaluate and Adapt

Based on feedback from people who used the game, and from more of PICNet’s in-services, the game was changed slightly for the 2014 edition, with a greater focus on risk assessment. PICNet found that relying on people to memorize, for example, which PPE are used for which types of infection, does not promote long-term retention of knowledge. Instead, getting healthcare workers to think about why they do certain infection control practices will result in them approaching their work day with a fuller understanding of what practices are needed in which situations.


Hit us with your best shot!

Educating staff is one thing; motivating is another. In early 2014 PICNet, as part of the Communications sub-committees of BC’s Health Quality Networks and the Provincial Hand Hygiene Working Group combined their efforts to come up with a provincial activity for World Hand Hygiene Day.  Hand cleaning compliance rates have steadily been increasing in BC, so the team decided they wanted to host an activity that would celebrate hand hygiene efforts and help build enthusiasm, rather than simply reminding healthcare staff to clean their hands. The group decided to run a hand hygiene photo contest for all healthcare workers in BC.  A web page was created where staff could submit their photos, and the contest was run for five weeks. There was a grand prize for the funniest/most creative photo, a trophy for the BC Health Authority that submitted the most photos, and weekly drawings for gift cards.


The contest won a contest

The “Clean Shots” photo contest received more than 1,000 entries, and the creativity of the photos far surpassed the judges’ expectations. The contest proved that point-of-care staff have plenty of enthusiasm, creativity, team spirit, and great ideas! Having staff showcase their efforts was a great alternative to previous “top-down” efforts for hand hygiene promotion, and it was a fun way to celebrate everyone’s efforts.

In addition, the Clean Shots contest won first place in the Canadian Patient Safety Institute’s “What’s Your Hand In It?” Dragon’s Den-style competition to promote hand hygiene improvement.

A survey was conducted after the contest to find out what participants thought and whether they’d like to see this again next year. There was also an increase in hand hygiene rates during that period: BC surpassed its provincial target of 80% for the first time since provincial hand hygiene auditing began. The main lesson the organizing committee learned was that healthcare staff have lots of fantastic ideas; it just takes a good idea to harness this.

For more information

Infection control education and motivation can be made fun and accessible; it just takes some out-of-the box thinking. And if you don’t have time for that, PICNet has already boxed it up for you! For more information on the Let’s Go Viral! kit, visit the PICNet website at http://picnet.ca/letsgoviral.

You can also view the Clean Shots finalists https://picnet.ca/cleanshots/finalists/.

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