Flu Season: Top Tips for Reducing Infection Spread

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Flu Season: Top Tips for Reducing Infection Spread

By Tom Bergin
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Tuesday, February 28, 2017 - 7:50am

With flu season peaking between December and February, now is an opportune time for healthcare facilities to strengthen best practices and implement new measures to combat infection and contamination. Without taking the necessary precautions, the spread of infection can snowball quickly throughout a healthcare facility; according to the Centers for Disease Control and Infection (CDCI), most healthy adults may be able to infect others one day before symptoms develop and up to five to seven days after becoming sick. Most notably for healthcare facilities, young children and people with weakened immune systems may be infectious for even longer. 

Research from SCA indicates that although hospitals should serve as trusted places for patients to preserve their health, they are considered as the second riskiest environment for infection. As such, during flu season there is an even greater need to reduce this fear of facility-borne contamination. 

While the majority of healthcare professionals acknowledge hand washing as the most effective way to decrease the spread of communicable disease and infection, it is important to consistently reinforce practices that mitigate risk. Follow the tips below to keep healthcare professionals, patients, visitors and their families healthy during the flu season:

Understand the patient perception

Knowing how patients perceive the hand washing practices of healthcare facilities is integral to improving it. A study conducted by SCA revealed that while 84 percent of consumers believe they wash their hands sufficiently,76 percent believe others don’t wash their hands as often as they should.

Optimize dispenser locations

Believe it or not, placement of hand hygiene dispensers in healthcare facilities can increase usage, and therefore compliance, by more than 50 percent. Look to resources like SCA’s Inspirational Visuals to determine the optimal dispenser locations across hospital entrances, semi-private and private room and nurses stations.  

Foster peer to peer encouragement 

Ensure proper hand hygiene is an integrated part of your culture, by placing its importance at the forefront of all hospital marketing, HR training and staff materials. Since 48 percent of people believe that the first step to improving hand hygiene is to take a greater sense of person responsibility, leverage all communications channels and the voice of leaders to encourage peer to peer compliance.  

Greater content for greater compliance

It’s a simple tactic, but utilizing hand washing signage plays a surprisingly significant role in how patients and visitors view a healthcare facility’s safety. Respondents to a SCA study shared that hand washing signage makes them feel more confident about both a facility’s cleanliness (84 percent) and the quality of care being given (81 percent). With this in mind, signage should be prominently placed throughout the hospital and refreshed with updated engaging imagery and copy to improve patient perception and experience, which ultimately keep protocols top of mind for staff. 

Turn to tech

With almost half believing technology and innovations within hygiene and health will result in us living healthier lives, facilities should complement traditional signage with today’s evolving technology. From educational apps, electronic bulletin boards and even social media channels, online and mobile advancements make it easy to remind people in real-time of hand hygiene practices. Facilities can also introduce data-driven dispensers like Tork Easy Cube™ that capture and analyze real-time data to understand usage and improve long-term planning.

The flu season requires all healthcare facilities to come together to encourage, reinforce and introduce new measures to protect all staff, professionals and of course the patients who trust us to protect them every day.

Tom Bergin is the marketing director for SCA’s Away from Home Professional Hygiene business in North America.