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Infection control in nursing and residential homes

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VOL: 97, ISSUE: 07, PAGE NO: 9

Kim Gunn, RGN, MPH, is public health specialist in communicable disease and infection control, North Staffordshire NHS Health Authority, Stoke on Trent

EA Partnership (2000) EA Partnership and the ICNA 2000 Infection Control in esidential and Nursing Homes Training Pack. For a copy telephone 01480 497243, or e-mail:

EA Partnership (2000) EA Partnership and the ICNA 2000 Infection Control in esidential and Nursing Homes Training Pack. For a copy telephone 01480 497243, or e-mail:

There have been dramatic changes over the past decade in the provision of health care in the UK, especially for elderly people. A significant increase in the independent health care sector, due in part to demographic changes and the closure of NHS continuing care facilities, has resulted in high-dependency clients being placed in nursing and residential care homes (RCN, 1996) With this increase in dependency comes the inevitable increase in the risk of infection and cross-contamination in this environment. The importance of infection control practice and procedure and indeed the training to support such practice cannot be overemphasised.

Many nursing and residential care establishments will have infection control guidelines. These may be locally agreed and written with the expertise of the community infection control nurse (CICN) and the consultant in communicable disease control (CCDC) or national guidelines (Department of Health, 1996) adapted for local use.

The guidelines are often used as reference documents. Care staff require regular updates and training in infection control practice and procedure to make the documents come to life and become applicable to everyday practice. Training resources to support the guidelines is sadly lacking in many care establishments. This training pack will be a useful resource for those becoming involved in training in nursing and residential care establishments.

This training resource is published by EA Publications in conjunction with the Infection Control Nurses' Association. The authors are specialist community infection control nurse advisers with a wealth of experience in community care settings. This is reflected in the information provided.

The pack is produced in a A4-sized ringbinder incorporating overhead transparencies. The acetates are also produced in hard copy 'story board' format for those homes without overhead projection facilities.

The pack is intended for use by senior staff (trainers, matrons and infection control link workers) in residential and nursing care establishments. Community infection control nurses will also find this resource useful when providing training in nursing and residential home settings or running infection control link worker courses.

The pack comprises six sections: risk factors for infection, basic microbiology and spread of infection, basic infection control practices, common and important infections and their management, organisation and management issues and statutory requirements and standards.

There is also a comprehensive further reading section referencing relevant legislation and reports.

With material for approximately eight hours' training, sections can be delivered individually or as a complete course to suite the needs and time resource of the care establishment.

The training notes accompanying each section are short, highlighting important points only. The trainer will probably have to do some reading on the subject matter in order to be able to deliver the sections with confidence. The notes are on cards, each with a number corresponding to the transparency to be shown.

The transparencies are clear, colourful and entertaining with the use of caricatures to depict the messages to be conveyed. The revision sheets included in sections one to four can be a useful aide memoir for learners. The sheets could also be easily adapted and used in quiz format. If learners answer questions before and after the education session the responses can be compared and used as a measure of information retained. It will also provide an evaluation of the usefulness of the session for the trainer.

The handouts that support sections two, three and four can be photocopied and kept for future reference. They are clear and concise, although not particularly eye-catching. Included in section four are handouts on the management of specific infections. These sheets make reference to the recognition of an outbreak, the reporting mechanisms and the importance of adhering to local communicable disease and infection control policy.

There is no mention of regularly updating the pack in line with changes in practice and the evidence base, and so it is important to emphasise its use in conjunction with local and national infection control policy and guidelines.

In summary, this is a good infection control training resource for use in nursing and residential care home settings. It may be usefully employed as an infection control element in infection control link worker courses. There is also potential for utilising the pack for National Vocational Qualification courses, therefore making the information accessible to more learners.

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