Decades ago, the Healthcare Sterile Processing Association (previously known as IAHCSMM), created Sterile Processing Week—seven dedicated days in October spent honoring those all individuals within the profession and spotlighting their many essential contributions to patient care and safety. This week of honor begins each year on the second Sunday of October and continues through the following Saturday.
It is up to every SPD and healthcare institution—from the largest hospital networks to the smallest standalone facility—to make the most of the week. Creating a successful Sterile Processing Week takes planning and participation. For SPDs that haven’t yet finalized their celebratory plans for Oct. 8–14 this year, HSPA hopes to provide inspiration and planning suggestions to create fun, educational, thoughtful, and memorable events throughout those seven days. Year after year, our Association hears from members and others within the SP community who proudly share their event details and express their satisfaction with receiving the accolades and appreciation they deserve. The best part? Most tend to agree that the best Sterile Processing Week celebrations are meaningful and uplifting, but don’t hinge on hefty budgets. In fact, some of the most well-received offerings and plans cost very little or nothing at all.
Food and beverages are a draw for any event and can be an excellent addition to the week’s plans, but it’s prudent to explore and provide fun and educational opportunities for SP staff, the customers they serve, and all other departments within the organization. This can include representatives from Infection Prevention, Materials Management, Surgical Services, Endoscopy, Environmental Services, Biomedical Engineering, and C-suite, among others.
Posters highlighting the SPD’s many accomplishments—such as lofty productivity goals reached, error reduction and other performance improvement initiatives, certification status and more—can be posted in corridors, breakrooms, and other common areas. Game-based education provided in the SPD can keep learning fun during Sterile Processing Week and encourage wider multidisciplinary participation. Some SP leaders have even asked their healthcare customers, including those in the operating room, to provide joint education for those in both departments. Vendor representatives can also be tapped to provide quality educational inservices attended by SP professionals and some of their customers.
Although prizes are always a welcome addition, they also needn’t break the budget. Small tokens of appreciation like coffee vouchers or candy are great options, but many people have shared that simple handwritten notes of appreciation are especially enjoyed by employees. HSPA provides numerous resources to help facilities celebrate Sterile Processing Week in style and show their commitment to their team, customers, and patients. From free downloadable and customizable SP Week templates (including cards, posters, and employee appreciation certificates) to tips to promote widespread awareness about the profession and increase engagement from SP employees and others within the facility, HSPA makes it easy to honor hardworking teams. (Visit https://myhspa.org/resources/sterile-processing-week/ to access these and other helpful resources. This year, HSPA is also sharing positive messages and videos of support from HSPA Board members, staff, and supplier partners on its social media pages.)
Many SPDs find success by carving out time for one event or offering each day of the honorary week. Hosting an open house on the opening day, for example, can be especially effective for driving interest and participation (ideally, SP leaders will send other departments written invitations to join in the festivities and can use the opportunity to share specifics about why they should attend). Recruiting SP team members to share their unique ideas for the week is another good strategy that keeps plans fresh and participation soaring. It is also essential that SP leaders work to include employees from all shifts, not just their own, and plan events that cater to their schedules.
HSPA is grateful for every Sterile Processing professional. We are thankful for the heart and soul they put into their work each day. With their tireless dedication, healthcare customers can count on clean and sterile devices for patient care—and with their continued due diligence and dependable equipment and process monitoring, procedures can be performed without delay. And with their unwavering adherence to industry standards, best practices and policies and procedures, patient safety is never sacrificed. We honor these professionals during Sterile Processing Week and all year long.