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Infection Control – Information, Instruction and Training
Duty of Care
Employers have a duty of care to healthcare workers, to ensure that they remain competent in their role and understand their responsibilities in their work environment. All employers must provide information, instruction and training to ensure there is an appropriate level of competence in healthcare workers. Healthcare workers are at the front line in delivering care to those with different illnesses and diseases. This can be clearly seen with those healthcare workers treating and caring for individuals who have the Ebola virus.
Historically, training was delivered to healthcare workers by a person who had experience, which was based on the training they had received. So, in effect, training was passed down from generation to generation. The information within the training could at times be limited as it would have been based on the trainers own experience and education.
Research and Development
Over the last century changes to training in the early part were slow. These gained momentum once research and development was acknowledged and gained acceptance by medical establishments of being important to progress. In addition private companies working in research and development had a major interest in ensuring that their service or product could make the work within the healthcare sector better and safer for all. This led to the emergence of evolving designs of basic equipment such as needles, personal protective equipment such as gloves, face protection and manual handling equipment being safer to use. Better products at competitive prices meant more sales for the private companies. More investment was made available to fund research and development in the hope of continuous improvements being made.
Education and Continuous Professional Development
Access to higher education at international level has also caused change. People with limited means who at one time would not have had access to completing higher level education, are now able to do so with financial assistance. More people are doing research as part of their higher level coursework and in doing so have developed an interest in improvement the way work is done.
Technology is playing its part in the amount and type of information being available to influence changes in training to healthcare workers. The interest has meant new ideas are being shared globally to benefit everyone. There is a constant flow of information through You Tube, Twitter and other social media. It is now becoming the norm for individuals who require information about complex medical procedures and operations to do research on the internet first before they actually visit the GP surgery and seek further advice and tests.
Change in training is important, as with new information better training information is available to healthcare workers. With better training the method of work processes will mean less risk to the workers.
I completed my training as a nurse in 1994 and since then have seen the impact on how training has progressed and influenced the way work is completed. I went through tradition based ward training where I did hands on training at ward level delivering care. I attended some classroom based training but most of my knowledge was gained as a result of my experience on the wards during contact with patients. Reflecting on my experience over 20 years ago shows considerable changes. Examples seen are many accepted lifting techniques that healthcare workers carried out are now banned. Changes to personal protective equipment such as non latex powdered free gloves are implemented. There is now more emphasis placed on health and safety of staff at work and the duty of care to staff. Continuous professional development brings improvement and each person has a responsibly in contributing to future progress.
QCS supports continuous professional development through the provision of information that your service provides to staff, to ensure that they are competent and is able to implement policies.
Sally Beck RGN, BSc (Hons), MSc, CMIOSH – QCS Expert Infection Control Contributor