Monitoring for the near misses
Restaurants, particularly multi-unit operators, could reduce their corporate risk of an outbreak by increasing their ability to simply talk more about the #1 risk, poor handwashing. This Circles of Success assessment is an instrument to make that happen, to merge the science of Quality Assurance with the priorities of Operations into the context of risk.
The needed conversation, questions and assessments should be a regular component of weekly meetings, strategic planning sessions and operational budgets down to the unit level. “How are we doing in managing the risk of inadequate handwashing?” “Handwashing is trending …”
Without measured standards there is a void in the lexicon of this risk. Without standards, keeping the salt shakers filled overtakes handwashing as an operational priority.
The Circles of Success is a working risk assessment tool to help internal teams establish numerics by identifying and agreeing an operation’s Handwashing Risk Credit Score. You earn points as you build hand hygiene into a controllable process. The path to improvement is dotted with team discussions, executive questions and answers from Operations.
Poor hand hygiene is the leading contributing factor in outbreak studies, according to the CDC. The management of the #1 risk, in the spirit of HACCP, warrants specific assessment, agreed standards and a periodic reporting mechanism. Of particular interest is the monitoring of trends to catch the “near misses” rather than wait for the devastating crash of an outbreak.
Your “FICO” Handwashing Score
The above target-looking graphic summarizes a scoring system modeled after the financial community’s way of assessing the risk in lending money. Neither our program nor the FICO index represents true science. Both are qualitative interpretations based on history. In spite of their approximative nature, both yield actionable numbers.
The overall circle graphic is comprised of five segments seen here as pie slices. Each piece represents a stage of the process known as the HandsOn System, designed to analyze and implement needed enhancements to the hand hygiene process. This sequence produces sustainable risk-based solutions.
Drilling down on the first section, I. Assessing Risk, you now see six bands of risk levels from Very Safe at the core to an outer ring of OUTBREAK Waiting to Happen. In accompanying templates each band frames a title summarizing an operational reality, serving as an “attitude” benchmark – something we might commonly see in restaurants that exposes their acceptance of the status quo.
There is also an indicative quote referencing something one might hear at this level of operating effectiveness.
A small team of experienced assessors, preferably starting at headquarters and including Operations, Quality Assurance and Risk Management, rate their operation in each of the five “slices”, representing the five steps to gain process control of handwashing. Attached is a poster size file which should to printed to help focus the ensuing collaboration.
Each expert steps up to the chart and places a dot in the most appropriate ring – as they see it – based on their departamental view of risk. 5 minutes is the maximum discussion time to arrive at a representative number for each of the five sections.
The section-scores are then added up and divided by 5 to assign the Handwashing Risk Credit Score, handwashing’s “Fico” score.
The Process Control Driver
Until operation measures and monitors handwashing, the likelihood of consistently meeting the safe Circle of Success is low. It is estimated that many good restaurants have a risk score of 620-679, carrying a label of “Safety Is Threatened.” Successfully implemented monitoring is the gateway to the core Circle of Success.
Good restaurants know their handwashing rates are low, likely less than half of what they consider safe. Handwashing For Life, over its 15 years, has only identified one operation able to get their Handwashing Risk Credit Score up to 700 points and maintain the gains. This is Chef Peter Fulgenzi’s Atrio restaurant in Carmel, Indiana, winner of a 2015 NSF Leadership Award and the Handwashing For Life 5-Star Hand Hygiene Award. Thanks to wireless communication, new monitoring solutions are becoming available and we expect the true industry leaders like Chef Peter will step up and deal with their reality and join this Inner Circle of ServeReady®Hands.