Katrina Ames walks-the-talk when
it comes to hand hygiene and sets
clear expectations for staff.

Charge Nurse, Ward 71
Auckland District Health Board
Runner up Hand Hygiene New Zealand Clean Hands
Champion Awards 2013

KATRINA AMES has been integral to establishing a culture of hand hygiene excellence on Ward 71 – a specialist ward focusing on liver and renal transplant medicine.

Not only is her own hand hygiene practice top notch, but her understanding of infection control issues and her enthusiasm to embrace hand hygiene as a key patient safety priority on her ward, has made her an outstanding champion.

“Katrina is one of those hand hygiene champions who leads her staff by role modelling outstanding hand hygiene practice herself – she walks the talk,” says Louise Dawson, Hand Hygiene Coordinator at Auckland DHB.

“She sets clear expectations for all medical, nursing and allied health staff, and supports them to follow best practice,” adds Louise.

Katrina’s proactive behaviour ensures visitors and new staff members are aware of the ward’s hand hygiene requirements, ensuring that the culture of the ward always places the patient’s health and safety first.

“Katrina will put patient safety above the ego of sometimes challenging behaviour of medical staff and always ask staff to perform hand hygiene when and where they should,” says Louise.

“She maintains a high expectation that the 5 moments for hand hygiene approach is followed and any observed lapses are dealt with in a polite but swift manner,” adds Louise.

Katrina has established a network of hand hygiene observers who undertake informal audits of the five moments to maintain good practice in between national audits.

She also provides regular reminders about hand hygiene during staff meetings and has overseen the placement of posters that display a hand hygiene commitment from nurses on the ward. Placement of alcohol hand rub has also been a priority for Katrina.

“Bottles of hand rub are often removed from the patient bed for various reasons and this has been an obstacle for the ward to overcome,” says Camilla McGuinness, Nurse Specialist, Infection Prevention and Control Service at Auckland DHB.

“Katrina initiated on her ward that at 07:30am every morning the healthcare assistant will check all the beds for alcohol-based hand rub. If it is missing or running out, the healthcare assistant will replace it so that staff can complete hand hygiene at the point of care,” says Camilla.

Katrina keeps in regular contact with Auckland DHB’s infection control team, discussing new ideas for improving hand hygiene compliance on Ward 71, as well as seeking feedback on ways to further involve patients and staff in reducing healthcare acquired rates.

Ward 71 now has a culture of excellent hand hygiene firmly embedded in their ward and they are getting consistently high compliance rates during the national audit.

Katrina’s efforts to embed a best practice approach to hand hygiene culture was vital in containing a VRE outbreak, quickly reducing its impact.

“We wish that all charge nurses had this sort of commitment to hand hygiene and patient safety and the drive for improvement,” adds Camilla.


“I strive for the hand hygiene culture in ward 71 to be the best it can be for the benefit of patients,” says Katrina.

  • Be alert to any non-compliance of hand hygiene or inappropriate glove use
  • Engage with the staff member concerned at the time and explain the action required to comply with 5 moments for hand hygiene
  • Coach your team members, visiting team members, and patients to comply with the 5 moments on a regular basis.
  • Keep driving hand hygiene… keep your foot on the gas!