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

On test

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.


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

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.

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