Muscle memory describes the learning of motor skills. It is known as the ability to reproduce a particular movement without conscious thought, as a result of frequent repetition of that movement. Muscle memory is involved in many of our daily tasks such as tying our shoelaces or driving a car. As a result of hand hygiene being a psychomotor skill, muscle memory is also involved to help remember and build a habit in the World Health Organization (WHO) technique. To help you better understand how this plays a part in hand hygiene training, this blog will talk you through the basics of muscle memory, how it works, and also how it benefits hand hygiene compliance.
It’s just like riding a bike
“It’s just like riding a bike” is a saying that we have all heard. When we first learn a new skill, the process is slow as we are not comfortable nor confident in what we are doing. Therefore, the new skill is not being performed in the most efficient or accurate way. Skills that are difficult at the beginning, become second nature over time once they are continuously practiced. This is because we are building muscle memory in that skill so that it becomes a habit. We therefore no longer have to consciously think about what we are doing. Hence the term, practice makes perfect. Building muscle memory for hand hygiene can have a critical impact on patient and staff safety. This is because it needs to be performed correctly, every time, at the correct moments. To achieve this, the correct training method needs to be implemented.
Are your staff finding it difficult to memorise how to clean their hands correctly?
Too often, hand hygiene is taught through knowledge-based training. However, hand hygiene is a psychomotor skill, like riding a bike. Consequently, it has to be taught in a specific way to help us efficiently learn the skill. You can’t learn to ride a bike in a classroom or by watching a video. Therefore, how are healthcare workers or student nurses expected to learn how to clean their hands correctly in this way? We ‘learn by doing’, so it is important that you repeatedly practice hand hygiene the same way every time, with continuous feedback to build the habit. A study with Yale Medical school examined how long it actually takes to memorise the WHO hand hygiene technique. It found that a total of 23 minutes of training time or 32 hand hygiene exercises, distributed over 5 days, was needed to demonstrate proficiency.
Building muscle memory in hand hygiene technique
It is no secret the healthcare settings struggle to find the time to gather staff together for training. Therefore, how are facilities expected to deliver repeated training, while giving feedback, that is followed by an assessment? The answer is SureWash. We bring training on-site which means staff don’t have to ever leave the ward/unit to complete their hand hygiene training. As healthcare is 24/7, SureWash training is available day or night to meet the needs of healthcare workers. Every member of staff is trained and assessed to the same quality, removing any bias. By adopting SureWash, facilities can train large numbers of staff quickly and efficiently, while having access to all training records at the touch of a button.
It is critical that facilities deliver quality training to avoid staff building bad habits. SureWash ensures that an organisation can be confident that all staff have been trained to the highest standard. Be prepared and confident for internal and external inspections by letting us support your training needs.
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