Yvonne Spencer describes how a ‘whole hospital approach’ is the cornerstone to infection prevention – involving collaboration between hard & soft FM, infection prevention & control teams, service users, clinicians and other key stakeholders.
The success of IP&C is dependent upon a wide range of stakeholders with varying skill sets, all working in harmony to achieve a common goal: the reduction of healthcare-associated infections (HCAIs). Prioritising stakeholder engagement within an improvement project ensures everyone is aligned to a consistent framework that enables collaborative, connected working. Adopting a holistic, ‘whole healthcare’ facility approach to infection prevention, across all disciplines, with a shared common goal of reducing HCAIs, means that routes of transmission – such as water, air, surfaces and hand hygiene – should be considered in combination rather than in isolation.
In particular, when designing any new facility or rejuvenating an old one, the potential risks from the built environment must be considered. Consideration of the impact that contaminated surfaces or water and poorly ventilated areas can have on transmission rates of HCAIs should be approached with participation from all stakeholders. For example, hard facilities management (FM) may have the responsibility for the water quality within a hospital; however, the cleaning team (soft FM) plays a large role in the daily management of the outlets associated with that water supply and both disciplines should be involved in any co-design of changes to a process in order to ensure the maximum impact.
As part of a collaborative approach, engaging the facilities management provider can bring significant benefits – leveraging their expertise in both soft and hard FM and their existing external supplier relationships, as well as offering access to additional resources for training for hospital staff.
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