Frontline ownership having a positive impact on hand hygiene compliance

29 Jun 2016 | Infection Prevention & Control

In September 2015 the Health Quality & Safety Commission held a workshop on frontline ownership featuring Dr Michael Gardam. The workshop introduced frontline ownership for infection prevention and control (IPC) to staff from district health boards (DHBs) and private providers.

Frontline ownership is about engaging and empowering frontline staff to develop and take ownership of their own hand hygiene improvement strategies. For example, frontline staff often have insights into what is working well and not so well. They are best placed to identify local solutions for quality improvements, making them more likely to succeed (frontline ownership).

A focus of the Commission’s Hand Hygiene New Zealand programme is using frontline ownership to engage staff and improve hand hygiene compliance.

Recently Dr Gardam spoke with staff from Waikato, Bay of Plenty and Southern DHBs who were keen to update him on their achievements following the workshop. He was pleased to hear that many of the techniques he taught are now in use in a variety of ways, and showing positive results.

Jo Stodart, charge nurse manager at Southern DHB, said one of their biggest challenges was allowing staff to take ownership of solutions for their local issues.

‘Putting frontline ownership techniques in place has meant staff feel like they have a say and hand hygiene compliance has improved as a result,’ says Jo.

At Waikato DHB, nurse director Suzanne Lawes says it was great to learn about frontline ownership and see that the challenges they faced were normal. 

Using frontline ownership has allowed Waikato DHB staff to support one another to change practice and try different approaches.

‘You gain so much by listening to people, taking their ideas on board and getting them to own it,’ says Suzanne.

At Bay of Plenty DHB, frontline ownership is having a significant impact, as their nurse educators are championing the techniques they have learnt. It is also helping in areas outside of IPC, such as falls. 

Clinical nurse specialist Robyn Boyne says frontline ownership has meant quite a change in thinking for those in leadership and frontline roles. 

‘It has helped us learn that responsibility for hand hygiene doesn’t fall solely on one person. We’ve seen an increase in staff engagement now they are actively asked to contribute to ideas for improvement,’ says Robyn.

‘Frontline ownership is not just an infection prevention solution. While we’ve had success using the techniques to improve hand hygiene compliance, it’s great to see it being put to good effect in other areas.’

Bay of Plenty DHB has also seen an increase in engagement in emergency departments which have traditionally had poor hand hygiene rates.

Other DHBs are also seeing improvements using frontline ownership including Auckland and Northland, who are using it to help their efforts in surgical site infection and hand hygiene. 

For more information about frontline ownership and teaching techniques, see the videos from the workshop with Dr Gardam on the Commission’s website:

Last updated 29/06/2016