Infection control starts the minute someone walks through the front door of your organisation.
It is important that sufficient information, training and support is put in place for all Receptionists and frontline staff to help them deal with the various daily challenges involving infection control.
Staff need to be reassured that the job that they are doing is done well and that they continue to be supported and motivated to provide a good service to your patients.
Staff should be adequately trained to deal with infection control and this training should include cleaners and all Reception staff.
Infection control training should take place on a regular basis for all staff. Do you include cleaners in your training? Some practices have outside agencies; if so, do they hold a copy of your Infection Control Policy?
Does your organisation have a designated person for Infection Control? Is all your staff aware of whom this is?
Do you have a report policy in place for identifying any risks of infection control – Reception should be included in this policy and know whom they should report to.
The Infection Control lead person should carry out the following:
- Help to motivate colleagues to improve good practice
- Improve local implementation of infection control policies
- Ensure that infection control audits are undertaken
- Assist in the training of colleagues
- Help identify any Infection Control issues within your organisation and work to resolve these.
- Act as a role model within your organisation.
- Ensure that Infection Control protocols are reviewed and updated on a regular basis – or delegate to an appropriate person.
Hand Washing Procedures – Public and Staff Areas
Wash hand basins with suitable taps, liquid soap dispensers, alcohol rubs, paper towels and waste bins are essential items for all clinical care areas.
Whilst it is normally the responsibility of the cleaner to ensure that all of these areas are kept well stocked, some things might run out during the day. Therefore it is important that staff are made aware that these might need to be replenished throughout the day.
I have lost count of the number of times I recently have gone into hospitals and surgeries finding empty alcohol rubs, and toilets without toilet tissue or paper hand towels. It simply is not good enough.
Staff Immunisation Protection
Your Reception staff will be dealing with many Infection Control issues on a daily basis.
They will be receiving samples at the desk from patients. They will be dealing with patients that could possible come into your organisation with an infectious rash and could be asked to help with spillage. It therefore is important to include them in protection against Hepatitis B.
You should also offer your staff annual influenza immunisation.
Any immunisations given to your staff should be recorded. I would recommend that you record those that declined to have any immunisations.
Samples should come in a sealed container. I have had experience where many samples have come in all different shape and forms including:
- A faeces sample in a child’s bucket
- A faeces sample inside a plastic sandwich bag.
- A urine sample inside a Tupperware container – the patient in fact asked when we had tested the urine could she have the container back as it was one of her “best containers”
- A urine sample inside an empty perfume bottle.
These of course are not acceptable, for one it is not acceptable to expect the Receptionist (or nurse) to deal with this, and of course it is not in a sterile container.
Each and every sample should include all the necessary information about the patient, failing to do so could result in the labs refusing to carry out the necessary tests, resulting in the patient having to do the test again and possibly delaying any treatment that may be required.
All blood or potentially infected matter such as urine or faeces for lab testing should be treated as high risk and the necessary precautions taken.
The Reception Area
At the end of each day the Reception area should be left tidy. Often cleaners are instructed not to move paperwork or other items and work around them. Untidy desks therefore do not get cleaned as well as a clear desk.
Ensure that there are disposable gloves available in Reception for the receiving of samples from patients.
Any spillage in reception should be dealt with immediately and reported to the appropriate person.
Magazines and books should be replaced on a regular basis.
Toys made available for children should also be cleaned on a regular basis.
Public telephones should be wiped at regular intervals.
There should be a designated room for patients that might present themselves with a possible infectious disease i.e. chicken pox, measles etc. It is also important to inform the Doctor or Nurse that the patient is in the designated room, as often there is no tannoy facility to call patients in and often they could be missed.
Ensure that there are sick bowls available in Reception as this will be the first place the patient will come to if feeling unwell.
Ensure there are bins available in the waiting room, especially important for the disposal of used tissues, and possible a sign asking patient to place their used tissues in them.
Receptionist play a big part in Infection Control, more than we might sometime realise and its vital that they get it right, and also get the support that they require to do their job well.
Ensure that new staff have Infection Control as part of their induction training, and the necessary protocols are put in place for the Reception Area.
Talk to your Receptionists in a team meeting, often they will identify an area that may not been covered with a protocol. They are the experts in their area – RECEPTION.