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Celebrating Hand Hygiene Excellence

Whanganui and Capital and Coast District Health Board (DHBs) came up trumps at Hand Hygiene New Zealand’s (HHNZ) Quality Improvement Workshop on 12 and 13 June, each walking away with an award to recognise outstanding hand hygiene improvement efforts.

“Whanganui and Capital and Coast DHBs have been consistently successful in improving hand hygiene performance during the past three years,” says Dr Joshua Freeman, Clinical Lead, HHNZ.

“What’s more, it is clear that the positive changes these DHBs have achieved are becoming consolidated and more deeply embedded as the social norm, guiding them towards a culture of hand hygiene excellence,” he adds.

Whanganui DHB was awarded the Hand Hygiene Quality Improvement Award for a DHB with fewer than 300 acute inpatient beds. The HHNZ team was particularly impressed with Whanganui’s improvement over the past three years; their strong plan for sustaining improvements into the future, and their innovative approach to engage patients and empower them to be partners in care.

“They have been persistently working away under the radar and as a result good practice is becoming part of their everyday culture. Hand hygiene is very much a key patient safety priority in Whanganui DHB,” says Dr Freeman.

Capital and Coast DHB was awarded the Hand Hygiene Quality Improvement Award for a DHB with more than 300 acute inpatient beds. They have made great strides forward in their hand hygiene performance. Of particular note, and very highly commended, is their consistently high performance with the ‘before contact’ moments. This is unusual, as generally performance is noticeably higher with the ‘after contact’ moments.

“This demonstrates the effectiveness of their hand hygiene programme and suggests that messages about the importance of the ‘before’ moments are starting to embed,” says Dr Freeman.

“They have worked hard to keep awareness high; to engage with patients, to produce promotional materials, and build champions – a number of who are on our champion’s wall. All of this has helped them succeed in keeping the message fresh and alive.

“Capital and Coast has a future focused on frontline ownership driven through its comprehensive network of hand hygiene champions,” adds Dr Freeman.

“Hand hygiene improvement is more than just reaching a certain performance rate. It is about sustaining an effective programme over the long term, through ongoing leadership support as well as through ownership by front line clinical staff,” says Dr Freeman.

“What has been so encouraging is the extent to which all DHBs have improved since the HHNZ programme was reinvigorated in 2011.

“DHBs have reached a stage where they are moving away from the technicalities of implementing the national hand hygiene programme, to now working towards embedding hand hygiene excellence as part of the clinical culture through the principles of front line ownership.

“I would like to congratulate all DHBs on their journey so far, it is fantastic to see how far they have all come,” he adds.

Hand Hygiene New Zealand is a quality improvement programme delivered by Auckland DHB on behalf of the Health Quality & Safety Commission. The programme supports DHBs to reduce rates of healthcare associated infections through improved hand hygiene performance.

Whanganui and Capital and Coast DHBs receive their award certificates from the HHNZ team.

Capital and Coast DHB

Whanganui DHB