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Who is the weakest link in your practice’s infection control activities?
Do you train your cleaner(s) to observe your practice’s policy for domestic cleaning?
I was in a practice recently and the practice manager showed me her recently implemented domestic cleaning policy —of which she was very proud. I asked her what her cleaner thought about the policy. She couldn’t answer my question, which is a sure sign that the cleaner had not been fully informed, trained or consulted about the how they were expected to work.
Do you have an inclusive team?
The practice in question really understood that teamwork is an integral part of continually improving services. Their clinical and non-clinical teams’ held quality circles for reflective reviews and continuous development of their areas of expertise. They were an inclusive team except for the cleaner. On a scale of 1-10 on that basis — how likely do you think that the practice's policy for domestic cleaning was being fully observed?
It is pointless to have well-crafted practice policies within a quality manual, unless they have been agreed with the people expected to observe their defined procedures. To fall into the mind-set of “it’s only the cleaner” runs the risk that the infection control work of the clinical team may be compromised. Cleaners need to be trained in following pertinent practice policies as well.
A culture change
The next time I visited the practice, I asked if they had thought any more about the implementation of their domestic cleaning policy. They had: the practice manager had visited the practice to discreetly observe their cleaner at work, and realised that she had her own ways of working! Ways which made their carefully crafted policy ‘not worth the paper it was written on’.
The next day, the practice manager called the cleaner into the practice to show and discuss with her the policy — and she resigned! Later she called to apologise and said that after the initial shock, she realised that she had an important, skilled role to play which made a real contribution to the work of the practice.
Since this first fiery exchange, the cleaner has mentioned that she now feels more part of the team than ever before. She recognises that using the policy and all the supporting documents such as the checklists, assures that things simply don't get missed. She particularly likes to see the end of month survey results and finds the 100% satisfaction shown in the cleaning survey greatly motivating.
The practice manager went on to say:
“We are an inclusive team, and we require our team to provide outstanding standards of care for our patients. I now realise that I owe it to all of the team, including the cleaner to give them the knowledge, resources and skills needed to work to the standards we require. The cleaners work cannot go on, out of sight and out of mind until problems occur. I need to spend the necessary time supporting her. Our domestic cleaning policy and the inclusion of the cleaner in the practice team has had a really positive impact and I am truly surprised how well this works. I should have done it many, many years ago.”
Glenys Bridges – QCS Expert Dental Contributor