AN INNOVATIVE approach to supporting staff keep themselves, and others safe during the COVID-19 pandemic in Newcastle has been shortlisted for a national award.
Kim Williams-Davies who works in the Infection Prevention and Control Team has been named a finalist in the Royal College of Nursing’s ‘Outstanding contribution to infection prevention and control’ category for implementing the national initiative – ‘Hands, Face, Space’ – in a novel and effective way.
Launched in January 2021, Kim’s approach to ‘Hands, Face, Space’ has contributed to a demonstrable reduction in COVID-19 infection rates among staff – nearly 70% – helping the organisation to safely keep as many people at work as possible, during an incredibly challenging time.
Safety a key priority
Executive Chief Nurse Maurya Cushlow said: “Our priority during the pandemic has always been to keep both our patients and staff safe and this initiative has been instrumental in achieving this.
“The ‘Hands, Face, Space’ principles are really simple to follow, and we know they work. Kim has done a fantastic job, engaging with hundreds of staff at all levels of the organisation to remind them of their importance, in a supportive and engaging way.
I’m delighted she’s been shortlisted, and I wish her the very best of luck.Maurya Cushlow, Executive Chief Nurse
The initiative involved specially designed, monthly audits involving staff in both clinical and non-clinical areas. To aid the process, Kim helped develop an electronic audit system to provide feedback on compliance with a wide range of criteria.
Kim also asked each area to nominate a ‘Hands, Face, Space’ champion and to date she has successfully recruited nearly 400 champions in numerous departments across both hospital and community sites.
They each wear a badge so that they are easily identifiable, and their role includes carrying out daily reviews using reference handbooks and wipe-able checklists (one clinical and one non-clinical) designed to act as a visual reminder.
Kim says she experienced quite a lot of resistance at first from physically and mentally exhausted staff. She explains: “Rolling out this initiative late into the pandemic was challenging.
“Many felt it was just more work for them to be trying to fit into their already hectic days, whilst trying to compensate for staff shortages due to the pandemic.
“I took the time to listen to their worries, allowing them to let off a bit of steam then explained the importance of the initiative and how their involvement could make a huge difference.”
Through acts of kindness, Kim found more and more people volunteering to become champions.
Always with a smile, always willing to listen and always willing to help where I could.Kim Williams-Davies
Kim continues: “Many of the staff have reported that the reason they have got involved is because of the way in which I approached them. Always with a smile, always willing to listen and always willing to help where I could.”
Kim joined the Newcastle Hospitals from a small psychiatric hospital where she worked as a domestic. In her new role as Nursing Assistant in the Infection Prevention and Control Team she showed an ability to learn quickly, adapting well to the rapidly changing environment. Kim was tasked with leading the ‘Hand, Face, Space’ initiative.
“I was in total shock when I found out I had even been nominated let alone shortlisted,” says Kim.
“I am honoured – it wouldn’t have been possible without the support of the champions across the Trust, and of course my colleagues. Thank you.”
Matron for Infection Prevention and Control, Gill Lishman says “Kim’s approach throughout the implementation of the initiative has been exemplary.
“Her commitment to supporting staff in the organisation has been key to its success and I am delighted Kim’s hard work has been recognised.”
The winners will be announced at the Royal College of Nursing award ceremony in London on Tuesday 12 October 2021.