IncleanNZ August 2020

Page 16


Rising to the challenge The importance of environmental cleaning and hand hygiene in the fight against infection.



n hospitals and clinics, there is huge potential for contamination and the spread of illness due to how many patients pass through their doors every day. Surfaces in common or high-traffic areas, like doorknobs, handles, and equipment, pose a particularly elevated risk when it comes to transmitting pathogens between patients, staff, and visitors. “COVID-19 has been a wake-up call for the whole world,” says Linda Blake, product developer at registered training organisation, Careerforce. “We have already seen a ‘new norm’ in vulnerable communities and healthcare environments such as hospitals and rest homes, with an increased frequency of cleaning and more thorough cleaning and sanitising of high touch points and surfaces.” Maintaining a clean and hygienic environment is an effort that must be tackled from all angles. In response to COVID-19, Careerforce has released a series of online training modules in collaboration with the Ministry of Health. The six learning modules, which largely focus on hand hygiene and infection prevention, are available to be accessed through Careerforce’s website and the Ministry of Health’s LearnOnline website. Topics range from how to wash your hands correctly, to how to work as a caregiver for a friend or family member in need. The training organisation has also developed a series of hand hygiene and infection prevention learning resources, which are able to be accessed for free on the Careerforce website. These

modules incorporate sections on COVID-19; what is it and how to control the spread of it. “Every time a healthcare worker, including cleaners, move from one room to another, or move from one building to another, they can take infection with them. “It can be on their equipment, the cleaner’s trolley, their hands, or gloves… it is so easy to transmit infection, and so important that correct procedures are undertaken to prevent and reduce the spread of germs and infection in healthcare settings,” says Blake.

CLEANING EQUIPMENT Proper care of cleaning equipment is essential to preventing healthcare-associated infections (HAIs). Attentive cleaning procedures reduce the risk of cleaning staff spreading bacteria and other infectants throughout healthcare facilities. “Hospital stakeholders need to understand how to effectively clean not only medical equipment and facility surfaces, but also the cleaning equipment itself,” explains Gavin Kennedy, GM of operations, Pacific Hygiene, the official reseller of Rubbermaid Commercial Products in New Zealand. “When cleaning equipment is used to clean areas where pathogens are present, they may become a new source of contamination. “For instance, if a staff member uses a wet mop to clean a floor and then places the mop in cleaning solution, the solution itself may become infected. Maintaining cleaning equipment is essential to stopping the spread of HAIs,” Kennedy says.