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21 tips for infection control in-service: Staff competencies

Editorial Note: The below post is an excerpt from HCPro’s title Infection Control: How to Implement an Effective Approach for Long-Term Care, by Brian Garavaglia, PhD, which includes other in-services, dozens of sample policies and procedures, sample quizzes and answers, and the most up-to-date infection control regulatory guidance.

A successful in-service program begins with policies and procedures. Once those are firmly in place, plan the content of your in-service education on defining the infection process and ways to contain and control the spread.

New employees who have some experience from other facilities or organizations—or your own experienced employees—may question the need for these sessions or consider them a waste of time. But while infection control is one of those topics everyone thinks they already know, survey citations prove that knowledge is not always put into practice during care delivery. Get staff involved in planning and presenting various portions of the educational sessions; it will stimulate engagement and help break down resistance.

Here are some hints for a successful infection control education program:

  1. Identify topics to present during orientation and on a regular basis
  2. Develop a plan for the year
  3. Schedule in-services at different times to encourage participation and meet the needs of employees
  4. If you work for a larger company has several locations, something that is becoming increasingly common, schedule sessions at each of the sites
  5. Choose instructor(s) who are familiar with the topics and experienced in healthcare delivery; they must teach the classes using language that suits their audience
  6. Prepare for the sessions; anyone slated to teach the classes must know and understand infection control principles and practices
  7. Put together an outline and handouts to address the important points in an orderly fashion
  8. Incorporate visual aids into the sessions
  9. Focus on facility/organization policies and procedures, as well as specific case studies and examples
  10. Demonstrate techniques
  11. Incorporate practice sessions and return demonstrations
  12. Allow enough time for questions and answers, and if you cannot answer a question, research it and post or distribute the answer
  13. Teach staff how to fill out forms, such as exposure incident reports
  14. Create visual reminders with infection control posters, e.g., “Infection Prevention Rocks,” “Influenza—An Equal Opportunity Infection,” “Sharps/Needles—Handle with Care,” “Be Infection Wise—Save Lives”
  15. Emphasize the need for staff to document observations and actions taken
  16. Remind staff that infection control practices tend to break down when people become “too comfortable” with a patient or a procedure; stress that being too busy is no excuse for sloppy technique
  17. Schedule regular follow-up sessions with those employees who request or need additional guidance
  18. Educational sessions should incorporate opportunities for staff to apply the knowledge they learn; there are several ways to accomplish this
  19. Discussion sessions bring to light many issues that instructors may not think of when planning the educational programs, so when presenting topics for discussion, use scenarios that play off actual work situations, such as, “What would you do if this happened?”
  20. When developing test questions, remember that testing evaluates recall of pertinent information
  21. Demonstrations and return demonstrations provide the opportunity for staff to gain proficiency right in the classroom; these practice sessions will also allow the instructor to assess performance and develop follow-up sessions if needed