DeAnn Richards

Training effectively through creativity and collaboration

DeAnn Richards, RN, CIC
Agrace HospiceCare
Madison, WI

“My job is not about sitting in an office. It’s about being present in the workplace, with staff and patients, every day.”

DeAnn Richards

As an infection preventionist in a hospice setting, DeAnn Richards’ job is to ensure that patients’ remaining days are not spent battling unnecessary illness. 

“When I first arrived at Agrace HospiceCare 20 months ago, I spent a lot of time listening and learning about the unique challenges faced by our 550-plus staff,” said Richards. “I found that traditional walk-in education stations were not meeting staff needs. Passive education was simply not effective.” She concluded that the unique challenges and demands of hospice care called for alternative teaching tools.

Richards created a video designed to train staff about working safely and effectively in a home-care setting through real-world scenarios. She posted the video online so that staff could access it regardless of their location.

“I used my bag, my car, and even my kitchen and bathroom sinks to help them understand how to put words into action,” Richards said. Scores and awareness of proper procedures increased from 55 to 100 percent within three months.

As part of a broader educational and assessment platform, Richards also created an annual risk assessment encompassing 33 elements. Program scores demonstrated the impact of proactive education and programs: In 2011, Agrace received the highest score possible on 15 of the 33 program elements, compared to only one the year before.

“Our success is a direct reflection of the support we’ve received from leadership at both the staff and executive levels,” Richards said. “I’m glad to be part of such a wonderful team.”