Infections are one of the biggest challenges facing health services throughout the world. ‘Health care-acquired infections’ (HCAI), which patients or clients develop while receiving care from health services, pose a particular problem. Some are associated with specific bacteria such as Clostridium difficile (C.diff) or norovirus. Others cause urinary, wound or chest infections, particularly after surgery, which can range from being very mild to serious – sometimes fatal – infections.
At a time when health budgets in the UK are stretched, infection control is something that all healthcare organisations must maintain. And of course, this is set against broader concerns about the growing resistance of a number of bacteria to antibiotics. So it makes it all the more important for everyone working in the healthcare sector and beyond to think carefully about preventing infection at every stage. We’ll take a look at some of the precautions which organisations can take – central to which will be specialist cleaning.
Infection control: the basics
For effective infection control, there are a number of transmission-based precautions, depending on how pathogens move between hosts. Broadly, these fall into three categories: contact, droplet, and airborne. It’s also worth bearing in mind that certain bacteria and viruses can survive for a time outside their hosts.
Fundamentally, this means that standard precautions fall into five categories. First comes hand hygiene, as frequent hand washing has been proven to be one of the most effective means of cutting down on transmissions. Second is effective personal protective equipment (PPE), which covers everything from gloves to full bodysuits in the most extreme examples. Third, injection safety covers safe and effective removal of risks from infected blood (including safe disposal of sharps). Fourth it’s vital for frontline staff to be aware of respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette. And last – but far from least from our perspective – is environmental cleaning.
Where infection control is important – and why
The deadliest war being fought against infections is, of course, in the hospital and healthcare sector. Antimicrobial resistance is causing standard treatments to become ineffective and infections to persist, which may spread to others. A summer outbreak of norovirus in 2018 prompted concern that a mutated strain of the virus might have become prevalent.
But infection control is vital in other organisations too, such as the veterinary, pharmacy, hospitality, social care and education sectors. In the period 2014-18, Public Health England (PHE) figures showed a clear trend in increasing winter flu infections, especially in care homes. And in schools, one consideration is transmission of childhood diseases, with a resurgence of measles in certain populations where vaccination has been controversial. Once again, a specialist cleaning regime that focuses on infection control, will address such concerns.
Collaboration and communication are key for infection control
Proper cleaning and hygiene practices are vital in helping to prevent the spread of such infections. But an infection control culture has to be an open and collaborative one. It’s vital that there’s open and honest communication among cleaning staff and between cleaning teams and other staff. It’s also important to have a culture that allows healthcare professionals to speak up and challenge when they have concerns over such issues as infection control. The safest hospitals are those where it’s easiest to acknowledge and learn from mistakes, and improve processes. That’s where React Specialist Cleaning and our Infection Control Service come into play. We can work to ensure that a proper schedule is maintained – and that hospitals are able to prevent infections.
Find out more about the React Infection Control Service by contacting the React team today.
Telephone - Office hours: 01283 550 503
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Post by Shaun D. Doak
Shaun is the Managing Director of React Specialist Cleaning. He is deeply committed to making sure that every one of our company’s clients receives the highest possible level of service. An expert in HVAC and commercial and industrial cleaning methodologies, Shaun has extensive experience in the facilities management and renewable services sectors.