Infection Control is championed right across the Trust – Board to Ward and Beyond
Building on National initiatives, our focus has been on Infection Control responsibilities at all levels. There are now Infection Control leads at board level, senior nurses and clinicians at divisional level, and nurses at ward level and in the community.
The micro-organisms that cause infection move with patients from the community into hospital and out into the community again. It is therefore important to ensure good communication between primary and secondary care, between the RD&E acute site, the community hospitals and teams working in patients’ own homes. There is a single infection prevention and control team employed by this Trust which provides a service to these areas and the whole of the Devon Partnership Trust. This team also works closely with the South West (PHE) which provides infection control advice to nursing and residential homes. This approach ensures good communication, consistent advice and a consistent approach to infection prevention and control practice.
On the clinical side, ward matron undertake thorough reviews using the Department of Health assessment tools, of frequently performed invasive procedures where, by their very nature, there is a higher risk of infection. Policies, procedures and practice for urinary catheterisation, central and peripheral vein drips, surgical wounds and ventilator assisted pneumonia have been checked.
Progress has also been made ‘behind the scenes’ with Trust laboratory technicians being able to swiftly confirm whether or not a patient has got Norovirus, the diarrhoea and vomiting bug. Knowing this one way or the other at an early stage of admission, allows us to take prompt action to minimise the spread of the virus if infection is confirmed or in the event of test results being negative, giving the all clear and being able to lift infection control restrictions, such as ward closure.
Point of care flu testing has also been introduced which has significantly improved the management of patients admitted with flu like symptoms, ensuring that treatment can be started in a timely manner or isolation can be discontinued if the patient is found to not have flu.
There is also a commitment to infection control in non-clinical areas including food hygiene, portering and housekeeping services and waste management.
As well as good practice here and now, the Infection Prevention and Control Team has been involved in the design and equipping of existing and new healthcare facilities to ensure the environment encourages effective infection prevention and control.
In new facilities, it is essential to ensure installation of washable surfaces, the right number and location of hand-washing sinks; fitting doors which can be opened or closed without having to touch knobs or handles, and having sufficient space between beds. These are just some of the simple but effective decisions taken to aid the prevention & control of infection.