Professional Comment

Why Infection Control Is More Important Than Ever

Luiza Jipa, Deputy Clinical Manager at specialist maritime charity the Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society, discusses the importance of infection control in delivering high-quality nursing care.

Everyone working in the health and care sector has a responsibility to minimise the risk of infection, and this past year has shown the power and importance of infection control in all environments, especially in care homes.

Here at Belvedere House, the specialist maritime care home run by the Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society, we have always had our own infection prevention control (IPC) lead, as well as a dedicated trainer, who ensure all staff are regularly trained and up-to- date with the latest IPC guidelines, which are reviewed regularly.

This meant the Royal Alfred already had well-established IPC measures in place to identify, reduce and eliminate risks of new infections, even before the Covid-19 pandemic, but we were able to adjust and mould these in line with the rapidly-changing government guidelines as the situation progressed. Our pandemic contingency plan, which we established very early last year as soon as the Covid-19 risk became apparent, is also continually reviewed and updated in line with the latest guidance and advice.

A key part of our IPC measures has been ensuring readily-available PPE for all staff, a strong supply of temperature testing equipment, and access to regular testing in line with government advice. We have, of course, always run a tight ship when it comes to housekeeping and cleanliness, but the pandemic gave us an opportunity to review and increase our programme of cleaning, including focusing on key points of potential transmission, such as door handles and light switches.

But whilst cleaning and ensuring a steady supply-chain are perhaps obvious things to consider in managing infection control, it’s also important to train and support your staff in making responsible decisions. This is why we invest heavily in training, as well as providing support and guidance to help staff identify potential risks and reduce contact and limit the risk of infection. At the beginning of the pandemic, this included limiting the number of staff using communal space, minimising office meetings and non-essential visits to the Home, advising staff not to car share, and encouraging breaks to be taken separately.

As a Society we are incredibly proud of our strong staff retention rate, and this has been invaluable in our infection control management. By ensuring all our staff are familiar with the Society’s training, regulations and residents’ needs, we have been able to minimise the associated risks that come with using new, unfamiliar or untrained staff, and have been able to support our team in continuing to deliver the highest quality of care for residents, even in these challenging times. This also includes providing mental health training and support for our workforce to help them through the situation and manage the wider impact of the pandemic.

To find out more about the work of The Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society visit the charity’s website (www.royalalfredseafarers.co.uk). To keep up to date with the latest news from the Society, follow and like the official Society Twitter (@RAseafarers) and Facebook pages.