In healthcare, where patient well-being is paramount, preventing hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) is a critical challenge. One of the simplest yet most effective ways to combat this issue is by improving hand hygiene compliance among healthcare professionals. In this blog post, we will explore the importance of management support, and safety culture in enhancing hand hygiene compliance within hospitals.
Management support: Why is it so important?
Management support entails more than just active involvement and endorsement from hospital administrators and leaders. It encompasses a clear prioritization of hand hygiene by management, ensuring that everyone understands that hand hygiene compliance is a key metric. It is vital for management to emphasize the importance of hand hygiene not only for staff and patient safety but also for the hospital’s reputation. In addition to providing necessary resources such as adequate hand hygiene products and access to training and education, management should establish policies and procedures that underscore the significance of hand hygiene
Management support is essential for several reasons:
Management and leaders can foster enhanced hand hygiene compliance through a variety of approaches, including:
The key role of local hygiene mentors
In addition to senior management support, the presence of local “hand hygiene champions” or “hygiene mentors” within hospitals is crucial for driving and sustaining hand hygiene compliance. These champions are healthcare professionals who are deeply committed to improving hand hygiene practices, serving as role models for their colleagues. They take an active role in promoting hand hygiene, raising awareness, providing education and training, and encouraging their peers to prioritize this essential practice. Their dedication and enthusiasm are instrumental in creating a positive and sustainable impact on hand hygiene compliance within the hospital setting.
Management support and role modelling are essential for creating a safety culture within healthcare organizations. When leaders actively demonstrate their commitment to patient safety and hand hygiene compliance, they set a clear example for others to follow.
Establishing a safety culture: key elements and challenges
Creating a safety culture within hospitals is of paramount importance in ensuring patient and healthcare worker safety. A safety culture involves establishing an organizational environment that prioritizes high compliance with hand hygiene protocols. This includes:
- Allocating resources for hand hygiene programs
- Providing clear messages of support from institutional leaders
- Setting benchmarks or targets
- Designating hand hygiene champions
It also focuses on individual-level engagement, ensuring that healthcare workers recognize hand hygiene as a priority that reflects their commitment to patient safety.
The World Health Organization’s (WHO) multimodal strategy for hand hygiene improvement emphasizes the significance of safety culture as a key element. However, of the five hand hygiene enhancement modules, establishing a safe environment for hand hygiene had the lowest rating among the studied organizations. The low safety climate score was mostly caused by the absence of hand hygiene mentors and a lack of patient participation (1).
Source: Global report on infection prevention and control. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2022
While safety culture is a critical element, the WHO strategy also includes four other crucial components for sustainable behavior change and improvement in hand hygiene compliance. Multimodal improvement strategies are the gold standard IPC solutions for hand hygiene, according to strong evidence and the WHO’s own studies (2,3,4).
Sani Nudge meets all five elements of the WHO’s multimodal strategy. Therefore, it is considered the optimal investment for streamlining infection control practices and achieving long-term improvements in hand hygiene compliance.
1. De Kraker MEA, Tartari E, Tomczyk S, Twyman A, Francioli L, Cassini A, et al. Global report on infection prevention and control Implementation of hand hygiene in health-care facilities: results from the WHO Hand Hygiene Self-Assessment Framework global survey 2019. Lancet Infect Dis. S1473- 3099(21)00618-6 (https://doi.org/10.1016/S1473-3099(21)00618-6, accessed 11 July 2022).
2. Stemming the Superbug Tide: Just A Few Dollars More. Paris: Organisation for Economic Development; 2018 (https://doi.org/10.1787/9789264307599-en, accessed 3 July 2022)
3. Lotfinejad N, Peters A, Tartari E, Fankhauser-Rodriguez C, Pires D, Pittet D. Hand hygiene in health care: 20 years of ongoing advances and perspectives. Lancet Infect Dis. 2021;21(8):e209-e2
4. Allegranzi B, Gayet-Ageron A, Damani N, Bengaly L, McLaws M-L, Moro M-L, et al. Global implementation of WHO’s multimodal strategy for improvement of hand hygiene: a quasi- experimental study. Lancet Infect Dis. 2013;13(10):843-51.