Training Requirement: Hand Hygiene

Last Updated: 14 September 2023

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This article is part of our Training Requirement Series where we provide comprehensive guides to meet the actual training requirements that are often needed/requested of learning and development departments within Australia's healthcare organisations. This series includes both general requirements, such as hand hygiene, but also focuses on the specific requirements stemming from the NDIS, Aged Care and NSQHS Quality Standards.

What is Hand Hygiene?

Hand hygiene refers to the proper cleaning of one's hands to remove pathogens, dirt, and contaminants. In healthcare settings, this is typically achieved using either soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitiser. The process aims to minimise the transmission of harmful bacteria and viruses, contributing to patient safety and quality care.

What is the Hand Hygiene Training Requirement?

Relevant Standard

Action 3.10 - Hand Hygiene

National Safety and Quality Health Service (NSQHS) Standards

According to the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care, hand hygiene training is a mandatory part of healthcare workers' education. Compliance with the "Five Moments for Hand Hygiene" is required. These moments are:

  • Before touching a patient
  • Before a procedure
  • After a procedure or bodily fluid exposure
  • After touching a patient
  • After touching a patient's surroundings

How to Assess Staff Competency in Hand Hygiene

Staff Competency assessment on hand hygiene groups

Regular assessments are necessary to ensure that healthcare staff are competent in hand hygiene protocols. Techniques for assessment include:

  1. Direct observation: Managers or infection control personnel observe staff during real-world conditions.
  2. Self-assessment surveys: These should include questions about when and how to perform hand hygiene.
  3. Competency checks: Practical demonstrations allow staff to show their handwashing or sanitising technique.

What Skills Do Staff Need to Learn Hand Hygiene Skills?

Skill Key Elements
Technical Skills:
  • Proper Handwashing Technique: Staff must know the right steps for washing hands with soap and water, including rubbing palms, backs of hands, between fingers, and under nails.
  • Using Hand Sanitiser: Knowing how and when to use alcohol-based hand sanitiser effectively is crucial.
Cognitive Skills:
  • Awareness of 'Five Moments': Healthcare workers should know the “Five Moments for Hand Hygiene” identified by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care to ensure timely and effective hand hygiene.
  • Risk Assessment: Ability to identify situations where hand hygiene is particularly crucial, such as before invasive procedures or after handling waste.
Emotional Skills:
  • Accountability and Responsibility: Staff should feel a personal and professional obligation to practice effective hand hygiene.
  • Empathy: An understanding of the impact of poor hand hygiene on patients, especially the most vulnerable, is key to consistent practice.
Communication Skills
  • Reporting: Staff should know how to report potential hand hygiene risks and violations.
  • Peer-to-Peer Encouragement: Healthcare workers should foster a culture of hygiene by reminding each other about the importance of hand hygiene.
Adaptive Skills
  • Willingness to Learn: As guidelines evolve, healthcare workers should be willing to update their practices.
  • Ability to Use Feedback for Improvement: If audits or peer reviews indicate a lack of compliance or effectiveness, workers should be willing to adjust their practices accordingly.

By supporting staff in developing these skills, they will be better equipped to engage and learn and apply best-practice hand hygiene within your organisation.

Strategies to Support Employees Improve Hand Hygiene Skills

Building competency in diversity and high-risk group care is a multi-faceted approach. Below are some strategies to help support employees in this area:

  • Mentoring Programs - A mentor-mentee relationship can be extremely beneficial for transferring knowledge and skills. Seasoned staff can guide newer team members through real-world scenarios, imparting invaluable experience.
  • Regular Feedback Sessions - Constructive feedback serves as a real-time learning tool. Frequent and scheduled feedback sessions can help in quickly identifying and addressing gaps in understanding or skill sets.
  • Cultural Sensitivity Workshops - Workshops can provide a safe space for employees to discuss and understand cultural nuances, thereby increasing their sensitivity and effectiveness in handling culturally diverse cases.
  • Resource Availability - Providing easily accessible educational materials, such as e-modules or guides, can serve as a quick reference in time-sensitive situations.
  • Interdisciplinary Training - Training sessions that include staff from various departments encourage a holistic understanding of diversity and high-risk group care, thereby improving overall patient outcomes.

Sample Training Plan for the Hand Hygiene Requirement

A sample training plan might include modules on cultural sensitivity, legal obligations, and healthcare practices for high-risk groups. Staff could also undergo simulation training to apply theoretical knowledge in a controlled environment.

Staff Competency assessment on hand hygiene groups

Using the above image as an example - The results that require immediate attention are "technical skills". Based on this, we can develop a training plan to develop staff's technical skills on hand hygiene.

Quarter Topics Resources
Q1 Technical Skills

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Competency Assessment in Hand Hygiene - Example

Surveys are a quick tool to collect data on staff confidence in a respective field. Below is an example survey to assess how staff competence in hand hygiene.

Staff Survey - Hand Hygiene Competency

  1. How confident are you in providing care to individuals from diverse backgrounds?

    [Write your response here]

  2. How long should you rub your hands together when using alcohol-based hand sanitiser?

    [Write your response here]

  3. How long should you rub your hands together when using alcohol-based hand sanitiser?

    [Write your response here]

  4. How long should you rub your hands together when using alcohol-based hand sanitiser?

    [Write your response here]

  5. What is the correct order of steps for washing hands with soap and water?

    [Write your response here]

  6. What are two indicators of poor hand hygiene practice that should be reported?

    [Write your response here]

  7. How frequently should hand hygiene audits be conducted within the healthcare facility?

    [Write your response here]


Ensuring stringent hand hygiene practices is vital for safeguarding both patients and healthcare providers from preventable infections. As Learning and Development Coordinators, your role in imparting these skills is invaluable for upholding the standards of care in healthcare institutions.


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