Association of Healthcare Cleaning Professionals
Southern Branch Study Day

9 April 2015

Carlos Alves, Southern Branch Chairman and Housekeeping Services Manager at West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust invited MRSA Action UK to present the patient experience of MRSA and healthcare associated infections at their Study Day.

The association of healthcare cleaning professionals (AHCP) is the professional association for healthcare cleaning in the United Kingdom and Ireland. AHCP members are directly involved in managing and delivering cleaning and hygiene services in most NHS and independent hospitals. Members also work in primary care, GP clinics and surgeries, nursing and care homes and other residential care settings provided by the public, charitable and private sectors.

AHCP assists in the development of standards and protocols used by the NHS and the UK Department of Health with the goal of delivering cleaner, safer healthcare environments.

Nigel Grinstead was the MC for the day, his experience of working in healthcare and leading on transforming services was a good grounding for facilitating the study day. One of Nigel's roles has been as interim chief executive for Dorset PCT. We visited Dorset County Hospital in October 2011, World MRSA Awareness Month, and joined the launch of their hand hygiene awareness campaign.

A session on demystifying PAS5748 included how to risk assess areas and frequencies for cleaning. There were mixed views on some facilities, for example isolation or cohort areas, delegates, including ourselves believed that any equipment or items in such an area should be deemed as high risk and cleaned more frequently. MRSA Action UK were consulted on the standard and wanted to see testing of high touch areas as a requirement, as had other respondents to the consultation, however this was not included. AHCP would feed this back for future reference.

David Bedwell, AHCP Patron, gave a talk on standards and highlighted a small study where high touch areas were cleaned with antibacterial wipes as staff moved through the hospital. Testing of the surfaces showed an improvement in standards, however the cost of the wipes were raised by finance and the practice was stopped, despite the fact that this may contribute to reducing the bio burden in the environment and save lives.

David is Assistant Director of Health Facilities Scotland and shares our view on the need to try to improve hand hygiene compliance and spoke of the work that NHS Scotland had done to educate children. Children were able to sing a song as they washed, it had become the norm and they were setting examples for adults.

Paul Rudolph spoke about findings from the recent CQC inspection for his hospital trust. There was a lot of debate about the skills of inspectors and their understanding, for example one trust was focused on because of their high mortality, but they have a Macmillan unit giving palliative care, so this would be expected. Other delegates said they would come in and highlight areas they already knew about. The advantages of the inspections did mean that they were able to get what they needed to make improvements at the time, although standards were difficult to maintain once resources were no longer available.

David said the standards should be maintained all of the time not just because an inspection was taking place. It was something that we as a charity are not surprised by due to the contact we have with patients who have had a less than satisfactory experience and believed their healthcare infection was probably as a consequence of the drop in standards of cleanliness.

One delegate said little attention was paid to cleaning and all the work that goes into keeping the hospital safe, just one line to say care was given in a clean, safe environment.

Rachel Thasker, Lead Nurse, Infection Prevention and Control Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust gave a talk on Ebola. After the talk delegates were asked if they were worried about Ebola here in the UK. There was consensus that there was little risk. The healthcare workers that had become infected had more than likely made contact with the virus when donning and doffing their personal protective equipment. This is done with a buddy to make it safer, however it only takes a moments lapse when removing face masks for example, if the face is touched this can present a risk. Humans make mistakes and sometimes the controls can be breached.

Delegates were asked for ideas for the Cleaning Olympics event planned for AHCP's annual conference. As the name suggests there will be healthcare cleaning tasks created for teams to compete in.

Derek Butler presented on behalf of MRSA Action UK showing the impact of healthcare associated infections on families' lives. The age of the people who had lost their lives moved delegates. Derek's presentation highlighted the importance of communication in preventing and treating MRSA or any other healthcare associated infection. Talking to the patient and their family can help allay anxiety and also help in the control of infection. Other healthcare workers should also be aware of any infection status or risk of infection, and this includes post-discharge. Compassionate care means talking to patients and their families if there are anxieties. Derek was able to share good experiences to give a balanced view of the patient and carer experience.

Association of Healthcare Cleaning Professionals North West Branch Study Day

May 7 2015

Following the guest appearance at the Southern Branch Study Day Derek Butler was invited to attend the North West Branch Study Day on May 7th to give the patient and carer perspective on acquiring healthcare associated infections.

Derek’s presentation focused on the “Hearts and Minds” concept and he showed that to ensure a patient is kept safe from avoidable healthcare infections it was about a mind-set where the expectation was that the environment around the patient is kept clean. He said that he would make no apologies for his hard hitting presentation.

Derek showed that cleaners were the first line of defence against avoidable healthcare infections and that this is a team effort from all those who come in to contact with patients from cleaners, nurses, doctors and the patients visitors.

Derek’s presentation showed how serious events can have life changing consequences for the people they affect, and that it is by learning from such events that we avoid repeating the same mistakes.

The most striking part of the presentation for the delegates attending was when Derek spoke about those who had been affected and lost to avoidable healthcare infections and he showed them the pictures whilst telling the stories of what happened, and that in many of the cases presented all the families had mentioned to Derek that the area around their loved ones bed was filthy.

Part of the “Hearts and Minds” concept was to show that any organisation that takes safety seriously looks at all those who work within the organisation as a key part of its success and that they all contribute to that success, very much like a part for a jigsaw puzzle, many individual parts but they all link together to form the whole puzzle, and that without one piece the jigsaw falls apart.

Derek also showed that every time a patient contracts an avoidable healthcare infection we contribute to adding to the burden of antimicrobial resistance. For every patient who does not contract an avoidable healthcare infection we reduce that burden.

After Derek’s presentation many of the delegates thanked Derek for his hard hitting speech and for bringing home the cost to patients contracting infections that could have been avoided. Derek reminded them that whilst he had shown pictures of people who had lost someone, those present should always remember that they are the future patients of the very environment they work in and clean, and that one day it could be a loved one who is in their hospital receiving treatment.

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