Infection control procedures are the most crucial part of infection control. Also known as standard precautions, these are the procedures that should be used at all times, in all situations, in all places. They should definitely be used in aged care facilities and other healthcare settings, but they can also be used in the home and in other, non-clinical spaces.
Why should we always use standard precautions? Because we assume that all blood and body fluids/substances are potentially infectious. By always observing these protective procedures, you will be safeguarding yourself from potential infection from a range of sources.
There are five key infection control procedures that should be observed.
1. Hand hygiene
Hand hygiene is one of the most fundamental parts of infection control. The aim of hand hygiene is to reduce the number of microorganisms on your hands It should be performed before and after contact with a person, before and after contact with a person’s equipment, before preparing or eating food, before and after assisting a person to eat, after going to the toilet, after assisting a person with toileting and personal care… the list is almost endless really!
But hand hygiene isn’t just when you do it, it is also how you do it. Whether you are doing a soap and water hand wash, or a hand rub with ABHR, the idea is to rub your hands vigorously. This is because the friction with the hand hygiene product removes/reduces the microorganisms on your hands. And don’t forget, your hands must be dried thoroughly, regardless of whether you are hand washing with soap and water, or using ABHR, as moist hands pick up more germs than thoroughly dried hands.
Hand hygiene is really about technique as much as frequency, so read our 4 tips for more effective hand hygiene for maximum efficiency.
2. Wearing appropriate PPE
PPE, or personal protective equipment, is worn to protect the wearer from other infection risks. The necessary infection control procedures will depend on the risks associated with the task or infection. For example, for this last year COVID, an airborne virus, has been prevalent in the community. Because of this, we have all been wearing facial masks, which are a type of PPE. Masks are one kind of protection against risks that we cannot see, such as respiratory droplets.
If you want to know more about more efficient facial PPE use?
There are many types of PPE, including aprons, face shields and gloves. These offer protection against other types of risk, such as splashes or sprays of body fluids. Simply put, PPE refers to any physical barrier between you and a patient, or the outside environment.
Not sure what PPE is? Read our ‘What is PPE?’ blog post for an explanation!
3. Environmental cleaning
The next infection control procedure is routine environmental cleaning. Simply put, this means cleaning, but like hand hygiene, it requires doing it often enough and well enough. Cleaning is vitally important for infection prevention and control because deposits of dust, soil, and microbes on any surface can transmit infection. There must be written cleaning protocols that include the method of cleaning and the frequency, as well the products to be used for the different surfaces and areas. Then also need to be written procedures for cleaning areas where there is suspected known infection.
Read our blog on environmental cleaning for more information, including whose responsibility it is.
4. Waste management
Waste management is another infection control procedure. It require the appropriate handling and removal of waste, which is typically classified in three main groups: general, clinical and pharmaceutical. All facilities should have policies and procedures for the correct management of all waste generated. The NHMRC has guidelines for the management of waste generated in any healthcare facility.
Remember, waste management includes everything from the skips to the bins in every room in the facility. Do you know whether your bins need lids? Now you can know!
5. Transmission-based precautions
The last infection control procedure we’ll discuss here are transmission-based precautions. These are used in addition to standard precautions when standard precautions alone are not sufficient to prevent transmission of infection. Transmission-based precautions (TBP) are used for people with suspected or known infections that are transmitted in one of three ways: airborne transmission, droplet transmission and contact transmission (direct or indirect). TBP practices need to be tailored to the particular infectious agent involved, and to the mode of transmission. For example, for a resident with gastroenteritis, contact precautions would be introduced, such as ideally isolating them in a single room with ensuite, and the PPE required would be masks, gloves, disposable impermeable gowns.
Infection control procedures are necessary, daily practices that help protect both staff and residents from infection. Not only that, but they’re practices that can be brought into everyday life as well. Infection control is about diligence as well as proper practice, so ensure not only that observing these procedures with the right frequency and attention to execution.
If you’d like more help with IPC in your facility, why not download our free IPC audit checklist? Help can be just a few clicks always. Alternatively, get in touch with Bug Control with any infection control questions. We’d love to help you out.