Pass the basket on infection control

No doubt you've tried a "Jeopardy!" training game by now, and it's lost a little of its excitement with your staff. Still, games work. People love competition and tend to learn more easily in a fun environment. So why not try a new twist to an old game?

Community Health and Counseling Services in Bangor, ME, uses a basket game that is similar to "Jeopardy!" says Mary Cahoon, RN, staff development and training coordinator of the private, not-for-profit agency, which covers a four-county area in northern and central Maine.

Cahoon used the game to teach staff about infection control. "We had used a "Jeopardy!" take-off game for a couple of years, and I thought it was time for a change," she says.

The basket game is simple. Cahoon wrote questions on index cards and put them in a basket. Then she divided the staff into teams of about five people. Each team included a wide range of disciplines, including a home health aide, a nurse, a secretary, and a therapist. "We don't want a glut of nurses on one team and home health aides on another," she explains.

Each team selects a card, in turn, and then reads the question aloud. They have 15 seconds as a team to answer the question. (See sample questions, at right and on p. 141.)

Some of the questions are demonstrations. For example, a participant might be asked to demonstrate how to take off a pair of contaminated gloves without splattering fluids on other people. The gloves used for the demonstration would have dish washing liquid on them.

Cahoon also created some critical thinking skills questions, such as asking the participant to explain to a 10-year-old what universal precautions are. If they answered correctly, the team kept the card as a means of keeping score. If the first team didn't get the right answer, the team that raises a hand first could answer.

Whoever has the most cards at the end wins the game. Cahoon made sure everyone felt like a winner with little prizes for all participants. The prizes included candles, travel mugs, and other similar items.

Before game inservice, Cahoon sent an infection control newsletter to all staff. The newsletter covered everything from standard precautions to bloodborne disease to tuberculosis. (See sample newsletter, Staff Development News, inserted in this issue.)