Florence Nightingale Award Winner to Seek Infection Control Improvements

A senior nurse has won a prestigious scholarship that will allow her to study infection control in nursing homes around the world in order to learn more about detection and management of infections in vulnerable service users.

Practice nursing specialist Dr Nicola Carey, a reader in long-term conditions at the University of Surrey, was awarded the prestigious Florence Nightingale Foundation Travel Scholarship, sponsored by the Royal College of Nursing Foundation. She will now visit nursing homes in the US, the Netherlands and Australia to learn more about infection control policy and practice.

Older people living in care homes are known to be at increased risk of infection, often resulting in unplanned hospital admissions and clinical complications so it’s hoped Dr Carey’s research will be an important step in improving good infection control practice it these settings. However, there are steps you can already be taking to reduce the infection control risks in your home. Read on to find out more.

In any care home, infections will inevitably occur from time to time. However, planning ahead and taking appropriate action can reduce their frequency as well as minimising their spread amongst service users and staff. Dr Carey’s study will hopefully provide us with further useful information to reduce the risks to our service users, but until her finding are available, here are our five best tips to effective infection prevention and control.

Take an Effective Approach to Infection Control with These 5 Tips

  1. Appoint an IPC Lead: Your infection prevention and control lead will be responsible for the management of infection prevention and control within your service. In some cases, this will be the registered manager, but the role can be delegated to any suitably qualified member of staff. The IPC lead reports directly to the registered manager and can be supported by other staff in ‘associate lead’ roles.
  2. Audit Regularly: To be effective, auditing should be an ongoing, proactive process rather than simply a process of form-filling. Having a range of audits from handwashing and use of personal protective equipment (PPE) to staff knowledge and training will help identify any areas of weakness and allow you to produce action plans to address them.
  3. Be Outbreak Ready: Having an infection outbreak pack ready for use can help staff respond quickly and effectively should an outbreak occur. Your pack should include handouts on specific types of infection e.g. norovirus or flu, for staff, service users and visitors, guidance on what steps to take and signage to alert visitors. Outbreaks will often occur during ‘out of hours’ periods so having this useful pack of information to hand will help support staff at any time of day or night.
  4. Provide Effective Induction: Infection prevention and control training needs to start on day one for every new member of staff. Your approach to infection control is only as strong as its weakest link so a member of staff who doesn’t understand the importance of effective handwashing or use of PPE can present a serious risk to everyone in your care. Don’t just rely on e-learning; make sure your induction includes practical elements and supervised practice to ensure new knowledge is put to use.
  5. Keep an Infection Log: Record all known infections within your service, including details of the type of infection and the service user involved. This will help you to identify any trends e.g. an increase in urinary catheter infections which could suggest further training or practice improvements are needed.