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ExploringHandHygiene
When I started this blog, and thinking about how to discuss “my” area of research, I wanted to have an image that I could use to symbolise my work – perhaps a form of icon really – so that any related social media/dissemination outlets could follow the same theme.  Therefore both my Twitter feed, and all my presentations/posters have included the image (above), along with the phrase “exploringhandhygiene“.

Because that’s what I have been doing during my PhD really, exploring the concept of hand hygiene.

Whilst, due to the academic nature, I have had to be specific as to which areas I am particularly addressing (i.e. measurement, through researching auditing, technology, human behaviour), I have naturally been open to many other themes within the area during my research.  And that’s the point of today’s post.

One of the key additional themes that has come up time and time again, although not central to my current project, is the role of gloves within hand hygiene.   This was first pointed out to me during the interview phase of my Study 1, when participants were discussing their perceptions of barriers to hand hygiene.  Once it had been explained to me I was much more aware of it during my participatory observation sessions.  Further reading, and some excellent presentations at conferences, has shown me that this is a huge area of concern and research in the field of hand hygiene.  and aside from the clear implications for Patient Safety, it has left me more than a little uncomfortable about my originally chosen logo…..

Look at it again.

Indeed.  Why is the medical professional wearing gloves to touch the baby?  The infant has intact skin.  There appears to be no imminent bodily fluid risk.  It’s not a clinical setting where one would expect PPE to be required due to the infant being identified as being contaminated by some particular pathogen – indeed, the other hand we see holding them is not gloved….   So, barring the scenario that the medical professional is about to whip out a needle (possible) or other such ‘clutching-at-straws’ explanation, I have to say, I think this picture may be one for the archive now.

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I may keep it until submission day, and launch a new picture for the next phase of my research life though.  That feels appropriate.  It’s been a comforting image through some pretty big events, like my first international conference, and my foray into social media, and so I’m not quite ready to dump it unceremoniously.   And to mark its passing with some style, I’m using it to launch my LinkedIn page.

Let it have one last hurrah out there in cyberspace!  And if it causes discussion about glove use, then perhaps that is a good thing.  We really should be thinking about the appropriateness of their use more…

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Since coming back from #IP2013 I’ve been continuing to put the final touches to my thesis on the measurement of hand hygiene.

Final touches take a long time…that much I can definitely state with confidence!  But I’m happy that with each reading the chapters appear to take on more clarity, and confirm the over-arching links which I believe emerge from the work.

The thesis is bursting with ideas for future work....

The thesis is bursting with ideas for future work….

In parallel with finalising the thesis,  this month sees me developing further my plans for the research post-submission.  Indications from the findings are that they provide significant scope for development. Happily this is not just my opinion, and feedback from dissemination activities and discussions have encouraged my development plans.   My main focus will be in moving forward with work on hand hygiene measurement, ensuring that data generated from future systems provides meaning to those receiving it, to enable them to make improvements to Patient safety.  This proposed work will include exploring both technology and human behaviour, continuing and extending that already undertaken in my PhD, and looking to collaborate with experts within the field: both within healthcare and industry.

I’m very excited by the opportunity to combine both my academic and industrial experience, whilst remaining within a healthcare setting, the field I have come to feel so passionate and interested in over the past 5 years.  I am, as I have noted before, incredibly lucky to have been inspired by some wonderful people within this sector – with timely reference to the award-winning team who have hosted my research…you may also have heard about their success here…!

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So this is 2013.  The year I will submit my PhD.

7 words that are rather easy to write. It’s the other 70,000 that make up the dissertation that pose the tricky bit….   Over Christmas and New Year, in between the standard giving, receiving, eating and being merry, and not-so-standard but absolute top quality use of NHS services, I had the big old think about what to do next as discussed previously – and came down hard on the side of carrying the research forward.  Always the decision in my heart, it was just the head that needed the additional encouragement, knowing how hard it can be to get research funding and positions, however well-intentioned, planned and necessary future research may be.  Yet despite all this, I decided that I want to try. I have to try. I need to try.  I have had so much interest and encouragement in this topic, from both those working in the field, and those who experience Healthcare from the ‘other side’, that it seems a waste not to try to take it forwards, to see just what we could do next.

So I emailed (a very, very long email….) my champion Claire (Kilpatrick) – Infection Prevention and Hand Hygiene Legend – on Christmas Eve, as you do, and received the most wonderful and encouraging email back within days, which has swept me through the first dark week of January, and literally dragged me out of bed and back to the computer. I have so many future plans, but need the discipline to write-up this work before I can go any further, and that is where the encouragement of others comes in. And it’s brilliant!  Hopefully I will be able to meet up with Claire soon and chat over some ideas, but before that I have promised (to myself) that I will commit another few thousand words to draft, and produce the article abstract which has been haunting me for about a month now. PLAN!

I also had a great email of encouragement from NursingTimes, after contacting them re: writing an article for them about the work we’ve been doing at my Case Study Site. I think it would be great to share this with the Nursing Community, and they’ve been really supportive, and also added that Hand Hygiene will be a topic they want to look at a lot this year – which is great for everyone. Another nod of encouragement!  I must also add a note to a great IPC Healthcare Professional@Mimsiebel at this point who always gives me lots of motivation for my work via Twitter, and has added her voice to the encouragement for an NT article – thank you!

Finally I also have a meeting with the Chief Nurse at the Case Study site later this month to update him on my research, and explore potential areas for future work. As a fellow academic as well as clinical expert I am very much looking forward to gaining insight from both ‘sides’ of his expertise, and am really excited to hear his views on ideas for ways in which we could translate this research into practical, measurable, and Patient Safety conscious practice.

The plan, therefore, is now to write this week – and then start the practical aspect of Study 3 on-site next week – which I will blog about once it is up and running. Got an email through about IFIC applications at the back-end of last week too, and that has given me a massive boost of encouragement….definitely, definitely want to be presenting my work in Buenos Aires in October!

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