5 Ways to Train Staff on Sterilizing Patient Care Spaces
Hospitals and other healthcare facilities are hotbeds of activity for viruses and bacteria that can transmit disease. That’s why we put so much emphasis on the importance of infection control -- from which rooms house which patients to how often the floor is mopped -- all these details matter.
And while it should be a no-brainer that cleaning staff should be an integral part of the infection control picture, that is not always the case. Particularly as cleaning tasks are contracted out to non-staff members, the importance of educating and training cleaning staff in proper disinfection methods can be overlooked.
In this post you’ll find five ways that you healthcare facility can improve cleaning staff training and thereby make your facility a healthier, safer place.
Regular Training is Critical
A hospital-wide training program that addresses the importance of and tactics for effective infection control is the minimum that your facility should implement. A 2013 study published in the American Journal of Infection Control found that an educational training session increased cleaning staff knowledge by more than 205, based on performance on a questionnaire administered before and after the training.
Although in-person training can certainly be useful, your training program should ideally be available at all times so that new hires and contractors can easily access and refer back to it whenever necessary.
Patient Care Spaces are Everywhere
The term patient care spaces generally refers to operating rooms, exam rooms, and patient rooms. However, the reality of the healthcare environment is that every space is a patient care space. While there may be more exacting standards for an OR than for a waiting room, when surfaces in a waiting room or nurse’s station are not properly disinfected, healthcare workers, patients, and visitors can carry dangerous pathogens into patient rooms or out into the world. By ensuring that staff understand the importance of cleaning all spaces with infection control in mind, your facility will instantly benefit.
Cleaning Staff are the Front Lines
The people who regularly clean your facility are on the frontlines of the infection control battle and with the proper training they should know why their job is so important and how to do it well. Starting from that understanding, your cleaning and facilities staff should be empowered to help others who may not have the same level of expertise to understand the importance of what they do. This is particularly true when it comes to outside vendors who have less experience in a healthcare facility. Your staff should know how to communicate the importance of infection control and provide basic training to all vendors that come through the door.
Don’t Dismiss Storage
Training doesn’t stop at the best way to ensure light switches are disinfected or how to operate a far-UV disinfection lamp. The way that cleaning materials are stored is an important infection control factor that is too easy to overlook. Cleaning materials should be stored in cool, dry places that do not promote the development of mold and bacteria with reusable cleaning items being regularly disinfected themselves.
Infection Control Starts at the Front Door
In addition to keeping waiting rooms and other common areas disinfected as well as standard patient care spaces, it is essential that every vendor and contractor that comes through your facility doors understand your infection control protocol. Indeed, workers who walk into a patient area need to know that they themselves (their clothes, boots, hands, etc.) should be free from the dust, debris and pathogens before they even set foot inside.
Whether you’re talking about sterilizing patient care spaces or developing an infection control process from the ground up, your cleaning staff are absolutely critical and their importance should not be underestimated. Want to learn more about infection control in healthcare facilities? Check out our complete guide.