Making a clean sweep

The
Mid-Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust has introduced an effective infection control
course for non-clinical staff. The trust explains why it chose an established
work-based learning programme

Open
College Network Level 2 qualification in Infection Control
Designed by: Protocol Training, 5 Burleigh Court, Burleigh Street,
Barnsley, South Yorkshire, S70 1 XY
Phone: 01226 2088828
www.protocol-training.com

Hospital
infections have negative consequences for patients and their families, and for
NHS employees and resourcing.

The
NHS Plan, published in July 2000, requires NHS organisations to have effective
systems in place to tackle hospital-acquired infections to minimise the risk to
patients and staff. The plan also outlines a commitment to training and
development of staff at all levels.

In
August 2001, Robert Fleming, training officer for the former Pinderfields and
Pontefract Hospitals NHS Trust, held talks with Protocol Training about
introducing an infection control training course for hospital staff.
Pinderfields and Pontefract Hospitals NHS Trust has now merged with the acute
services section of the former Dewsbury and District Hospitals NHS Trust to
become the Mid-Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust.

The
discussion stemmed from the work of the trust’s non-clinical services training
group, made up of representatives from staff, non-clinical services management,
HR and training. The group proactively identifies training opportunities for
non-clinical staff.

The
infection control training provided a good opportunity to co-ordinate the
contributions of both clinical and non-clinical colleagues who work on hospital
wards. Again, this reflects part of the NHS Plan and its aim of promoting the
value of the work of non-clinical staff in hospitals.

Information

Fleming
received information about an Open College Network (OCN) Level 2 qualification
from Protocol Training. It highlighted the availability of a work-based
infection control qualification involving on-the-job training and self-study. A
series of discussions and meetings involving the training group, the trust’s
infection control team and Protocol Training, convinced the hospital to offer
the qualification to its staff.

Commenting
on the choice of course, Andrew Beane, lead infection control nurse, based at
Pinderfields Hospital, said: "This group of hospital workers contribute
greatly to the running of a hospital 24 hours a day. Delivering infection
control training to the majority of them is difficult, due to the number and
the complexity of the hours they work. This course, provided in partnership
with Protocol Training, helps to reach the staff that infection control nurses
are unable to."

Workbooks
developed by Protocol Training support the infection control qualification, but
the actual course is delivered by staff from Park Lane College in Leeds.
Candidates are required to be over 16 years of age, not in full-time education
and to have been an EC resident for three years.

The
course’s original format was developed in a hospital environment with the
clinical aspects being designed in co-operation with two NHS hospitals –
Ridgeway hospital in Swindon and the Princess Margaret in Milton Keynes. It
therefore required little revision to meet the needs of Pinderfields, Clayton,
Pontefract and Castleford and Normanton hospitals, which made up the former
Pinderfields and Pontefract trust.

Minor
modifications required were implemented by infection control nurses from the
trust and representatives of Protocol Training and Park Lane College. This
ensured the infection control course programme remained in line with hospital
policy and procedure.

The
trust’s training team encouraged ward sisters and modern matrons to promote the
course and make it available to non-clinical and auxiliary staff in their
departments. Within a short space of time, more than 100 staff, including ward
assistants, domestic assistants, catering assistants and auxiliary nurses, had
decided to enrol on the OCN Level 2 qualification in infection control.

The
programme was publicised through posters placed on every ward and department.
Staff who expressed an interest were sent an information pack by the college
outlining the course content and delivery.

Course
students were allocated an assessor, who also acted as a mentor throughout
their time on the course. Together, the mentors and students decided how often
they should meet to provide the desired level of support. The assessor/mentors
are all qualified nurses, some with an infection control background.

Assessors
explained the course procedure to students, issued their workbooks and visited
the workplace at agreed times to assess progress, provide advice and answer
questions. As mentors, they helped students to plan and organise their
workbooks. The students keep the books during the course, and they provide the
platform for written feedback and practical assessment. They also contain an
explanation of each element of the course, with graphical representations to
aid learning and understanding and assignments for the student to complete.

The
evidence in the workbooks, workplace observation and practical tests enable the
assessor to judge whether candidates are competent. The students’ final
assessment is given by an external moderator from OCN, who checks and confirms
successful completion, and delivers accreditation.

The
infection control course has boosted the confidence of non-clinical staff, says
Pat Browning, domestic assistant at Pontefract General Infirmary.

"We
have learned a lot and now do things differently from before," she says.
"Having completed the course, we aren’t afraid to ask nurses about
infection control issues if we see something that we don’t think is correct. We
have started to question ourselves and others to check if we are doing things
in the correct way."

Student
support

During
this work-based learning experience, ward sisters, line managers, senior nurses
and supervisors were asked to support the students – many of whom reported the
help provided by fellow workers and their mentors was excellent.

While
doing the course, students required six to eight statements from senior work
colleagues to confirm their competence.

Colleagues
and those in management roles were also encouraged to build relationships with
students doing the infection control course, and to consider introducing
mentoring schemes for other staff, such as trained nurses. This allowed
clinical staff to engage with non-clinical colleagues and helped the students
achieve their course targets.

Commenting
on the benefits of the course, training officer Fleming says: "The course
has heightened the profile of infection control among all levels of staff and
has led people to question, change and ultimately improve working practices in
patient contact areas."

The
training also had the secondary effect of improving morale among staff who have
been given the opportunity to gain additional knowledge. They have benefited
from undertaking a practical course which allows them to obtain a nationally
recognised qualification.

What
the course entails

Students
on the course have to complete four units containing the following elements:

Unit
1: Preparation for work in a healthcare environment


Deciding when personal or family illnesses could increase infection risks at
work


Describing what personal hygiene action should be taken when preparing for work


Choosing and using appropriate clothing and footwear


Deciding what make-up and jewellery are appropriate


Explaining how to care for your hair


Identifying infection risks associated with your hands


Describing the correct way to wash your hands


Understanding what you are expected to do


Identifying your team


Active listening


Effective communication

Unit
2: Maintaining your own knowledge of infection risks in a healthcare environment


Recognise different types of infection


Identify conditions under which different types of infection can spread


Identify infection risks in your work area


Find your employer’s policies and guidelines on infection risks


Find people and documents to help you keep your knowledge of infection risks up
to date


Distinguish between cleaning, disinfection and sterilisation


Understand how single-use equipment should be used in the control of infection


Deal with spillages


Keep up-to-date on infection-risk management

Unit
3: Minimising infection in a healthcare environment


Identifying the ways in which the spread of infection can be controlled


Knowing your employer’s guidelines for the management of infection


Knowing how to minimise infection risk to yourself while carrying out your
normal workplace activities


Knowing how to minimise infection risk to others while carrying out your normal
workplace activities


Following correct procedures if you suffer a cut or abrasion at work

Unit
4: Minimising cross-infection between work areas. Includes:


Health & Safety at Work Act 1974


Food Safety Act 1990


Disposing of different kinds of waste


Maintaining clean equipment


The role of protective clothing  

Verdict
Contributing to safer environments

The
infection control course has successfully increased the knowledge base among
non-clinical staff, boosted their confidence and given them a sense of
achievement.

Delivering
the course in the workplace, plus the flexibility in providing the training and
assessment, allowed it to fit around the work and home commitments of staff.
This greatly helped in the take-up and successful completion of the course.

Feedback
from those who have completed the course indicates that they are proactively
improving their own infection control practices and procedures and questioning
those employed in the hospital wards to find out if they can be improved.

Robert
Fleming says: "The real impact of the infection control training is that
it is contributing to a safer environment for employees, patients and visitors.
It is also helping the hospitals to meet cleanliness and infection control
targets set out in the NHS Plan."

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