Neonatal team members at Tairawhiti DHB are not afraid to ask
staff and family to clean their hands.

Gisborne Hospital, Tairawhiti District Health Board
Hand hygiene ward of the quarter, May 2012

The neonatal unit at Gisborne Hospital is only small, but the team approach to hand hygiene is anything but.

Over the past few years the neonatal team has consistently worked hard to achieve fantastic hand hygiene performance results so that their special but vulnerable patients are protected from harmful bacteria, ensuring they receive the best start to life.

According to Ray Pickles, Hand Hygiene Coordinator at Tairawhiti DHB, the neonatal team members are always keen to improve their hand hygiene performance and have taken real ownership of the hand hygiene programme within their unit.

“The area they work in is small with just one island in the middle of the room. This is where all the babies are taken to be checked, or to have procedures performed, such as having bloods taken. The neonatal team really understands the importance of good hand hygiene in such a confined space,” says Ray.

“The ownership they have taken in terms of promoting and practicing good hand hygiene within the unit has been outstanding. They have received a very positive response from consultants and pediatricians as well, who fully support the hand hygiene project and are practicing good hand hygiene themselves.

“The team is certainly not afraid to pull people up on it if they see hand hygiene not being performed appropriately,” says Ray.

“They even encourage family members to practice good hand hygiene”.

Hand hygiene performance in the ward has been above 80 per cent for the last three years.

“Working with the infection control link nurse for the unit has helped to iron out any problems that could act as a barrier to improving performance. This included making sure that hand rub is available at the point of care at all times, so there is never an excuse for not performing hand hygiene,” says Ray.

Neonatal Unit Clinical Nurse Manager, Barbara Reid, said the team all considered good hand hygiene a top priority for the Neonatal Unit.

“It’s a place with especially vulnerable patients and also a place that can get a lots of hands coming in and going out on a daily basis... therefore all the more reason to be vigilant!

“We reinforce hand hygiene as part of all our staff meetings and we discuss results of hand hygiene audits at those times. “It’s a case of repetition but it’s working!” says Barbara.