Dirt revealed about hand hygiene at mall displays

mall display
The mall display, with hand washing station at right.
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Tips for washing your hands

Winnipeg Health Region
Published Friday, November 8, 2013

Winnipeggers got the dirt on dirty hands at a pair of mall displays designed to show them how to wash their hands better.

The displays at Grant Park and Kildonan Place mall from Oct. 28 to Nov. 1 attracted 500 participants to the hand washing challenge, says Cheryl Harder, Improvement Education Consultant with the Winnipeg Health Region’s Quality Improvement & Patient Safety Unit.

“People were surprised how many areas of their hands are still dirty after washing,” said Harder, adding the displays were co-hosted with the Manitoba Institute for Patient Safety. “The ultraviolet light shows which areas of your hands had not been totally cleaned.”

Staff within the Region’s Quality & Patient Safety unit along with volunteers challenged mall goers to apply a harmless gel with invisible fake germs to their hands. After washing to remove the “germs”, people held their hands under a black light to see how much was left, with unwashed areas glowing white.

The demonstration underscored an important point: washing your hands is one of the single most important things anyone can do to ward off germs that cause colds, flu and stomach disorders, says Harder. Yet the fact is most people do not wash their hands as well or as frequently as they should. With cold and flu season upon us, hand hygiene should be a priority, she adds.

A pair of mascots attracted children to the hand washing station. The kids took the challenge, along with their parents, says Harder, and usually with the expected results.

The displays also garnered interest from school teachers, looking for materials to teach hand hygiene in school, she says. “We received interest from the community – such as public health nurses and teachers – to use our materials and display at schools.”

The mall displays also handed out medication safety cards; a pocket-size card which can be carried in a wallet. People can write their medications and dosage on the card, to show their health-care provider or pharmacist.

The mall displays won an award in the Canadian Patient Safety Institute, for taking part in the national Patient Safety Week, from Oct. 28 to Nov. 1.

mall display

Holly Mulvihill, the "Hand" mascot and Candice Holden-Piush at the Quality & Patient Safety display at Kildonan Place mall.

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