Saving lives in nursing homes with improved hand hygiene
Unfortunately, infections are more likely to spread from person to person in elderly care facilities. The elderly often have a weakened immune system, chronic medical conditions, and are more prone to complications during the recovery. In nursing homes, people live close together and spend a lot of time in common areas. Moreover, many points of contact occur between them, caregivers and visitors. Therefore, infections frequently occur in these facilities and pose a significant threat – being the primary cause of morbidity and mortality among the elderly.
Especially during the era of Covid-19, nursing homes are under tremendous pressure to protect their citizens and reduce the risk of infections. To ensure a safer environment, it is crucial to identify the situations in which the risk for cross-infection is the highest. Identifying these situations is necessary to implement the most suitable and practical strategies to save lives.
Since hands transmit around 80% of all infections (1), good hand hygiene is the most critical measure for infection prevention in nursing homes. WHO’s set of recommendations provides a valuable resource on the vital moments for hand hygiene applied to nursing homes. (2)
Significantly, the precautions implemented in nursing facilities often depend on the staff’s knowledge and individual initiatives. In that way, an effective hand hygiene program that creates continuous reinforcement and guides users to proper hand hygiene can substantially reduce germs.
Using data-driven performance feedback, over five months sani nudge helped a 150-apartment European nursing home improve the hand hygiene compliance of caregiving staff.
There were 61,257 sanitizations total during this period and hand hygiene compliance increased by 23-33% among the nurses and hourly employees. The improvement in hand hygiene seen here reduces the risk of infections of both residents and healthcare workers and reduces sick leave. As we all know, hand hygiene is the most critical patient/resident safety marker.
Another study from France reviewed the impact of the hand-hygiene program in 26 nursing homes. This study was one of the first randomized controlled trials to assess hand-hygiene regimens outside the hospital setting. Over one year, half of these facilities introduced a program that included easier and better access to hand sanitizing products, a campaign to promote hand hygiene, and forming local workgroups to train and educate the staff and caregivers. (3)
In this period, the nursing homes in the intervention group registered a 21% drop in mortality rates and a downward trend in antibiotic prescriptions. Interestingly, these improvements, which took a few months to build up, stopped right after the intervention program ended. This suggests two vital points: proper hand hygiene is not built overnight and requires sustained, continued attention to keep the infections at bay.
Based on the promising results, implementing the sani nudge system can also help increase the safety of nursing homes. Reach out to us if you want to ensure the best conditions for your patients and colleagues.
- BC Centre for Disease Control. (2022). Hand Hygiene. Available at: <http://www.bccdc.ca/health-info/prevention-public-health/hand-hygiene#:~:text=Eighty%20percent%20of%20common%20infections,of%20infectious%20diseases%20to%20others>.
- Community Infection Prevention and Control. (2021). Your five moments for hand hygiene for Care Homes Poster. Available at: https://www.infectionpreventioncontrol.co.uk/resources/your-5-moments-for-hand-hygiene-care-homes-poster/
- Temime, L., Cohen, N., Ait-Bouziad, K., Denormandie, P., Dab, W., & Hocine, M. N. (2018). Impact of a multicomponent hand hygiene-related intervention on the infectious risk in nursing homes: A cluster randomized trial. American journal of infection control, 46(2), 173–179. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ajic.2017.08.03