Carnivals or fairs require substantial planning, but they can be a great way to train many employees at once. Your nurses, members of the administrative and medical staff, residents, and volunteers will have the opportunity to learn about topics such as patient privacy, your facility’s compliance hotline, and the False Claims Act all in one location. They might even have a little fun while doing it.
Craft a plan
Determine where the carnival will be held and how much space will be available. The amount of space will govern how many booths or displays you can have. Some possible settings are the cafeteria, a large meeting room,or outside (e.g., on a patio or under a tent).
Plan to run the carnival through all three shifts, such as from 7 a.m. until 11 p.m., so all employees have the opportunity to attend. You might be able to reduce the burden of running it for so long by joining forces with the accreditation staff.
Ask for help
- Enlist the help of a carnival committee comprising employees throughout the organization. Staff members with musical, artistic, and theatrical talents will be naturals for helping with this project.
- You will also need the assistance of environmental services, facilities management, and PR or marketing.
- Your volunteer carnival committee will have a lot of work to do, so make sure they receive the encouragement and recognition they deserve. Have a pizza party for them the day before the carnival (or the day after, if they are too stressed the day before) and give them awards for their efforts.
Create atmosphere with a theme
Having a theme will generate more interest in the carnival. Select a theme that will have broad appeal and won’t offend anyone. Consider current movies; holidays, such as the Fourth of July; or an era, such as the 1970s. A great way to maximize game ideas is to have a TV game show theme. The carnival committee might be a good sounding board for developing the theme. Coordinating the prizes, snacks, music, and decorations with the theme will add to the festivities. For example, if the theme is “going to the movies,” you can serve popcorn, Milk Duds, and soda; award “Oscars” and movie passes; and play hit songs from well-known movies during the carnival.
Design activity booths
The carnival will be more effective if each booth focuses on one clear message. Caution your team against losing focus and adding unnecessary trivia that will detract from the message. Using the carnival’s theme, each booth should feature a game or an activity that tests the employee’s knowledge on a certain topic. Also, provide takeaway informational posters and handouts, which are good ways to reinforce your message.
Keep the activities simple and inexpensive. For example, as a reward for answering a compliance question correctly, participants might win a chance to participate in a dunk contest with a toy basketball hoop or guess the number of pieces of candy in a container.
Start a publicity campaign
Once the details are ironed out, ask the folks from PR or marketing to put together a two-week campaign using the carnival’s theme, including posters and handouts for the employees to let them know about the upcoming carnival. Remind employees that they will be tested on compliance facts throughout the carnival.
Ask the PR or marketing staff to prepare carnival tickets that list compliance topics (e.g., the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act of 1986, HIPAA, and medical necessity) that employees can have stamped at each booth as they tour the carnival. These completed tickets can then be put into a drawing for a prize before employees leave the carnival and can be used to document completed training for all attendees. The carnival tickets can be distributed in advance with paychecks or provided at the entrance to the carnival.
Make it simple
Be sure to keep the scope of the carnival manageable. If you try to do too much, you run the risk of losing the message. Use materials that you have prepared for other activities to reduce the amount of work involved. For example, you probably have HIPAA handouts that you use at new employee orientations. Don’t spend time creating new ones; simply make copies of the existing handouts on special paper. And if you don’t have the time to organize an entire carnival, try the fast-track option and set up one or two carnival booths in your cafeteria highlighting high-focus areas.
Adapted from Strategies for Health Care Compliance, September 2008, HCPro, Inc.