October 16-20 is National Infection Control Week! Good hand hygiene is essential in preventing infection, as well as for keeping yourself healthy. Hand hygiene is the responsibility of everyone involved in health care. To recognize the importance of good hand hygiene, the Northern Health (NH) Hand Hygiene Program was launched in 2011 in hospitals across the North.
The initial success of the program and NH leadership’s willingness to collaborate with the NH Infection Prevention department allowed the program to expand into long-term care homes in 2013. The program continued to grow, with the introduction in 2021 of a self-audit tool for primary and community care. More recently, the NH Hand Hygiene Program has made a focused investment in implementing an easy-to-use hand hygiene auditing application to supplement, and eventually replace, paper auditing processes.
Sharing their success
In the 12 years of the program, hand hygiene compliance for Northern hospitals (the percentage of staff members correctly washing or sanitizing their hands) has increased from 61% to 92%. And in the last 10 years, long-term care homes have increased their compliance from 73% to 88%. Finally, for the last four years (2019-2023), NH hospitals have surpassed the NH hand hygiene goal of 85%.
The aim is always for 100% hand hygiene compliance and Northern Health continues to support its physicians and staff members to work towards this.
NH staff and physicians have worked diligently to improve hand hygiene compliance to keep those we care for safe and healthy. We commend their continuous effort towards safe patient care and quality improvement.