Make Your Intention Infection Prevention

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The theme of International Infection Prevention Week 2021, which runs from October 17-23, is “Make Your Intention Infection Prevention.” A pillar of infection prevention is environmental hygiene. There is now considerable attention on the cleanliness of our shared spaces.

With this comes a focus on high-level standards while also managing budgetary challenges, employee wellness issues, sustainability impact, overuse and improper use of cleaning products and procedures. This brings to mind Precision Cleaning™, a term that promotes monitoring and measuring cleaning performance in order to optimize your return on investments and resources. It’s a clear understanding and demonstration of what, where, why, and how to clean, in favor of efficiency and health-based outcomes.

The guiding principle behind precision cleaning is cleaning for health. It marks a significant step in the cleaning industry’s shift to move beyond cleaning for appearance, and also focus on overall environmental health and safety in buildings.

Elements of a Precision Cleaning Focused Procedure

Infection prevention that not only prevents infection but also limits the human health impacts of disinfectant product overuse should be built on clearly defined standard operating procedures (SOP) that focus on efficiency, public health and precision cleaning. When this approach to facility maintenance is implemented, other benefits include increased productivity and cost savings.

Precision cleaning supports the following elements of an SOP:

High-end training programs: Leading experts recommend that cleaning and disinfecting be accompanied by evidenced-based measurement and feedback for continuous improvement.  A combination of in-person and virtual instruction is preferable when access to technology and Wi-Fi is available. Training programs should also include both demos and hands-on training sessions, with the opportunity for recognition. SOPs should include clear designation of high-touch surfaces in a location that requires daily or more frequent disinfection as well as low-touch surfaces that will not need to be disinfected as frequently.

Validation measures: SOPs should include a proactive method for validating work. It is important to be able to track whether surfaces have been cleaned, but it is also important to provide a functioning feedback loop to support continuous improvement in a workforce. With many options for validation on the market, each facility will need to weigh the benefits and drawbacks of the systems available to them. Finding a validation system that encourages a positive, collaborative approach to training and education will be key.

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Addressing overuse: Anticipating the situations that would lead to product overuse will help to eliminate the dangers to human health and the environment caused by overusing disinfectants. Testing product application methods to find the most efficient process and including that in SOP’s will be a solid start. Focusing on employee comfort and ergonomics will also help to promote efficiency and prevent workplace injuries.

Education without barriers: As facility teams hire more and more new workers and the workforce continues to diversify, it will be imperative to provide accessible education that crosses different learning styles. Technology can help make education even more accessible, and new innovations are providing advanced tools and insight for training and education.

Product verification: With many new products on the market, product testing that can be backed up with data is becoming more prevalent. When a team has a system in place that integrates real-time environmental test data into standard operating procedures, then new purchasing decisions will become much easier to make. Facilities are able to independently, objectively measure the claims of new products, test their worth and pilot them in their cleaning programs. With products that are proven to work, precision cleaning becomes attainable and efficient.

Careful use of disinfectants: Disinfectants are a powerful infection control tool when used properly. Product labels should be strictly followed. All SDS and labels will clearly list personal protective equipment needed for product use, dwell time and the dilution ratios necessary to reach disinfectant kill claims. In addition, surfaces should always be cleaned prior to disinfection.

Working towards a Healthy Future

International Infection Prevention Week is an excellent opportunity for your team or facility to set its intention for a healthier future. As COVID-19 continues to be a concern, flu season approaches, and hospital acquired infections continue to be among the top five causes of death in North America, infection prevention has never been more important. When an organization has an infection prevention SOP that supports precision cleaning through the elements listed in this article, it can advance its level of performance for the best possible outcomes.