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World Health Day
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World Health Day 2021

On World Health Day, 7 April 2021, we will be inviting you to join a new campaign to build a fairer, healthier world. We’ll be posting more details here shortly, but here’s why we’re doing this:

Our world is an unequal one.
As COVID-19 has highlighted, some people are able to live healthier lives and have better access to health services than others – entirely due to the conditions in which they are born, grow, live, work and age.

All over the world, some groups struggle to make ends meet with little daily income, have poorer housing conditions and education, fewer employment opportunities, experience greater gender inequality, and have little or no access to safe environments, clean water and air, food security and health services. This leads to unnecessary suffering, avoidable illness, and premature death. And it harms our societies and economies.

This is not only unfair: it is preventable. That’s why we are calling on leaders to ensure that everyone has living and working conditions that are conducive to good health.  At the same time we urge leaders to monitor health inequities, and to ensure that all people are able to access quality health services when and where they need them. 

COVID-19 has hit all countries hard, but its impact has been harshest on those communities which were already vulnerable, who are more exposed to the disease, less likely to have access to quality health care services and more likely to experience adverse consequences as a result of measures implemented to contain the pandemic.

WHO is committed to ensuring that everyone, everywhere, can realize the right to good health.

Source: https://www.who.int/campaigns/world-health-day/2021

Weiss Technik
Blog, Blog Posts, Company, Coronavirus

Weiss Technik: Specialists in Infection Control, Containment and Bio-Safety

The Coronavirus crisis may be dominating the current news but for Weiss Technik, the task of controlling and containing viruses and bacteria started approximately 50 years ago when they introduced their first “Ultra Clean Ventilation” system (UCV). Originally developed for hospital theatre applications to contain airborne particles, Weiss Technik’s innovative UCV systems are now specified around the globe for situations where infection control and containment are critical health factors.

Rupert Mack is Weiss Technik’s director of strategic business area Mediclean and is a member of German DIN 1946 as well as European WG 18 TC 156 committee. Rupert has overseen the continuous development of a range of industry-leading products and solutions that help to combat the spread of viruses in commercial settings.

He commented, “The main source of microbial aerosols in enclosed spaces can be deemed to be from human and animal organisms. Indoor air pollution is an important problem because people inhale between 6–10 litres of air per minute, which amounts to 15,000 litres of air per day. The health risks from exposure to poor indoor air quality is therefore significant because we spend around 90% of the day in indoor environments, of which approximately 25%* is spent at work (*during normal circumstances).

“Ironically, traditional air conditioning systems can actually increase the potential for bacteria and viruses to survive over a long period of time and distance. As we have witnessed, there is a propensity for viruses to increase during the colder months, natural ventilation is reduced when the population typically spends more time indoors and utilises additional heating sources. Whilst these situations are well known, in the event of a pandemic, as we are experiencing now, one needs to focus on solutions that provide an exceptional level of protection.

“Whilst the issues are complex, there are two fundamental types of airflow when considering how airborne particles spread: we differentiate unidirectional airflow (laminar flow) and dilution mixing airflow (there’s a direct flow top-down scenario and also a head-to-head situation). So, for example, in a hospital operating theatre air purification is a must. Our UCV systems actually cleanse a specific part of the room; typically directly above and around the operating table. The process is enhanced through our “Weiss Mediclean” traffic light system which provides a clear visual reference to air flow and virus content. This links to a dynamic system that automatically adjusts the air flow to ensure continuous protection.

“Our systems offer a high level of sophistication in their design and functionality. They feature a highly effective HEPA filtration system, combined with UVC light.  A HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Absorber) filter is a specific type of high-quality air filter that meets the HEPOA filter standard, which is to remove at least 99.97% of particles (aerosols) from the air down to at least 0.3 microns in size. The UVC radiation is a known disinfectant for air, water, and nonporous surfaces. UVC radiation has effectively been used for decades to reduce the spread of bacteria, such as tuberculosis.

“The truth is that all indoor confined spaces now pose a potential threat. Businesses need robust, proven and reliable solutions that offer an unprecedented level of protection for their employees. Our product range has recently been augmented with the introduction of new products and solutions for every room or situation where people are working or living.

“Vindur® Top is an important development of our cooling system with HEPA filtration and UVC light and offers businesses the opportunity to easily retro-fit a unit into a building refurbishment situation or to have a complete building air purification system specified at the design and build stages. Vindur® Top is programmed to achieve 3 to 5 kilowatt cooling capacity that helps to counteract equipment that generates heat.

“We have just unveiled our latest product called Vindur® Pure. This is a mobile air purification system without cooling.  This “plug and play” unit provides effective virus and bacteria control in rooms up to 70m2 capacity. It includes two filters (efficiency and high efficiency) and a UVC light. It can easily and simply be installed in a room, in ether a mobile floor standing or wall-mounted situation. Plus, when required, the unit can be switch to UCV operation only, to save energy. Vindur® Pure is an ideal solution for businesses looking for a fast and effective method of protecting their employees.

“As I have mentioned, Weiss Technik has almost five decades experience in developing bio-safety products and solutions. We are experts and help our customers specify precisely the right system for their circumstances. The factors are many and complex. Determining how to avoid infection from one person to another means calculating the correct level and type of air flow based on the number of people in a room and their movements. It means calculating how temperature changes influence these circumstances and how the type of flow of air is consequently affected.

“I am proud of the exceptional team here at Weiss Technik – a team of specialists who have developed a remarkable range of air purification products that meet the HTM 0301 UK accreditation and continue to set new and innovative standards of technical excellence”.

Rupert Mack – Director of Strategic Business Area – Mediclean, Weiss Technik
The Year Infection Preventionists Showed the World Their Worth
Blog, Blog Posts

The Year Infection Preventionists Showed the World Their Worth

The ability to answer questions and explain why just yesterday we were doing something differently than today occurred fairly frequently because of the evolving nature of the pandemic.

The first case of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the United States was reported on January 21, 2020.1 A lot has changed since then. People outside of healthcare have become all too familiar with terms usually reserved for epidemiologists and public health professionals such as: pandemic, social distancing, hand hygiene, masking, family pods, antibody tests, and quarantine. Healthcare personnel have also learned a thing or two about all of these terms and much more.

Infection prevention and control (IPC) teams have been thrust to the forefront to guide staff through these challenging times. Sharing their knowledge of personal protective equipment(PPE). Disinfection of medical equipment and patient care spaces, and communicating the ever-evolving changes as more information is gained about SARS- CoV-2. Articles about “lessons learned” and what healthcare providers and hospital systems can expect in the coming months are plentiful. But no one really knows what lies ahead.

Healthcare and the world have been turned on its head. Outside of healthcare, everyday items like toilet paper and paper towels became scarce. In healthcare, things that we took for granted, such as performing our daily tasks of providing patient care and keeping an eye on PPE, disinfectants and cleaners, hospital bed availability, critical medications and equipment, and especially staff, became problematic as supplies proved to be in short supply and infection preventionists (IPs) had to hit the ground running.

COVID-19 demonstrated huge gaps in preparedness worldwide. So, the key “takeaway” is the need for preparation for the upcoming months and into the future. The COVID-19 pandemic is here to stay so we had better learn from it to prepare for the next one because there will be another.

Source: https://www.infectioncontroltoday.com/view/the-year-infection-preventionists-showed-the-world-their-worth

Checklist Illustration
Blog, Blog Posts

Checklists for Infection Preventionists Working in ORs

New infection preventionists can use this checklist to perform IP rounds in the surgical suite, decontamination areas, and sterile processing area.

Preventing surgical site infections has long been the goal of hospitals across the United States. Important components for preventing SSIs are:

  • Implementation of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) 2017 updated guidelines for the prevention of SSIs.
  • Compliance with recommendations for proper prophylactic antimicrobial use for its efficacy against pathogens causing SSIs for specific procedures.
  • Self-monitoring of procedure and processes with the surgical suites.
  • Rounding by the hospital’s infection preventionist.
  • Following guidelines from credible organizations.

These are the key components to limiting or decreasing SSIs to 0 or as close to 0 as possible.

This article will concentrate on surgical rounding by the hospital’s infection preventionist (IP). There are 4 key areas that the IP should focus on: the environment throughout the surgical suites, the surgical attire of staff, decontamination and the sterilization processes. New IPs can use this checklist to perform IP rounds in the surgical suite, decontamination areas, and sterile processing area. Included with each question is a rationale that can be used as training for the new IP.Developing well-run, infection-free surgery and post-surgical practices is important in today’s market of reimbursement that rewards good performance.

Source: https://www.infectioncontroltoday.com/view/checklists-for-new-infection-preventionists-working-in-ors

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Know the dangers of sepsis

Know the dangers of sepsis: “Many people are surprised to learn that the leading cause of death in U.S. hospitals is a condition called sepsis,” stated Dr. Wajdi Kfoury, Infection Control, Baptist Health Medical Group. “In sepsis, the body’s response to infection gets out of control. Agents naturally released into the bloodstream to fight infection cause inflammatory responses throughout the body. This inflammation can trigger a cascade of effects, including tissue damage, organ failure, and death when sepsis occurs.”

What causes sepsis?

It’s important to know any infection, from the tiniest source (bug bite or hangnail) to more severe infections, such as pneumonia and meningitis, can trigger a response that can lead to sepsis, severe sepsis, and septic shock. The infection can be bacterial, viral, fungal, or parasitic. Some people have a higher risk of developing sepsis: the very young and the very old, people with chronic or serious illnesses such as diabetes and cancer, and those who have impaired immune systems.

Sometimes called septicemia, the condition can produce clotting that reduces blood flow to various areas of the body and can quickly impact the limbs, lungs, kidneys, and liver.

Dr. Kfoury added, “Sepsis is more common than most people realize and very serious.” In fact, it is estimated that 30 percent of people diagnosed with severe sepsis do not survive. Those who do survive may be left with disabilities from chronic pain, amputations, organ dysfunction, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Sepsis Symptoms

The Sepsis Alliance recommends the memory aid T-I-M-E for detecting signs of sepsis:

Temperature higher or lower than normal

Infection signs or symptoms

Mental decline, including confusion, sleepiness or difficulty being roused

Extremely ill, with severe pain or discomfort about which a person may say, “I feel like I’m going to die.”

Doctors tend to view the condition in three levels: sepsis, severe sepsis, and septic shock

Source: https://www.thenewsjournal.net/know-the-dangers-of-sepsis/

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Avoiding the Unavoidable

Funding for new Infection Control Measures in Care Homes and how they might spend it.

2020 has been for many a tough year, and as we enter Autumn, and approach Winter, many will fear and dread the threat of COVID and Flu. Much has been made of the deaths in social care from the first wave of the pandemic. It is fair to say mistakes were made, and there were lessons to be learned. Throughout winter, it will be essential that local authorities and NHS organisations continue to collaborate, working alongside one another, as well as with adult social care providers (including in the voluntary and community sector), people with care and support needs, their families and carers, and national government, if we are to keep the virus at bay.

Professor Adam Gordon told Channel 4 News that discharging patients from hospital to care homes was “accelerated and escalated” in the early months of the pandemic and that it could happen again in line with the latest UK Government guidance.

UK government guidance updated on September 16 reiterates that care homes in England should be prepared to accept COVID-19 positive patients from hospitals.

“As part of the national effort, the care sector also plays a vital role in accepting patients as they are discharged from hospital, because recuperation is better in non-acute settings.

Earlier in the pandemic, tests were not required before discharging patients from hospitals to care homes.

The latest data from the Office for National Statistics is that there have been 15,501 COVID-19 related deaths in care homes in England and Wales up to 4 September.

Professor Adam Gordon, of the British Geriatrics Society, has been running a “red zone” COVID ward in a hospital during the pandemic and says infection control precautions taken in hospital present a challenge for care homes to replicate. “It can be very difficult to isolate people with COVID safely. And it’s a really quite significant burden to place on care homes to take that responsibility when they perhaps haven’t been able to see the patient and aren’t quite sure what their care needs will be at the point of discharge. Care homes are not hospitals. They are designed to be homes, and, in many instances, care home staff are not healthcare professionals who in the past have had really in-depth training in infection control. The last time around we saw the hospital system under pressure and part of the response of that was to try to accelerate and escalate discharge into care homes. If we see similar pressures on the hospital sector this time around then it will be commonplace under the current guidance that people who are COVID positive will be discharged back into care homes.”

A spokesperson for Trafford Council said: “The discharge of patients from hospital is a carefully co-ordinated process in line with national government guidance. At all times, the health and wellbeing of the person being discharged is our primary concern and, if they are discharged to a care home, we make sure it is one that meets their health and social care needs. The alternative to doing this would be to leave the person in hospital. This would mean that the person’s recovery may take longer in an inappropriate setting, leaving them at higher risk of infection while also preventing seriously ill people being admitted to hospital to receive critical care when they need it.”

For local authorities, this relates to both self-funded care providers and local authority commissioned services within the authority, including those with whom the local authority does not have a contract.

One key action is improving infection control. The Government has announced the National Adult Social Care Infection Control Fund. The Minister for Care, Helen Whately MP, wrote to councils to announce an additional £600m of Government funding to support providers through a new ‘Infection Control Fund’.  The letter states that the fund will support adult care home providers to reduce the rate of transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19) in and between care homes and support wider workforce resilience. In this article we look at the guidance Essex County Council has sent to care homes across the county.

Essex will receive £16.3m for our Infection Control Fund, this guidance outlines the process and provides information on how the fund will be distributed to care homes in Essex.

To be eligible for support from the grant, providers who do not already must complete the daily care home NHS Capacity Tracker.  The fund has been calculated based on the number of beds identified on the NHS Capacity Tracker as of 3rd June.

A small percentage of it may be used to support domiciliary care providers and support wider workforce resilience to deal with COVID-19 infections.

Grant Usage Ideas

Essex County Council have produced some ideas for products and solutions which would improve IPC with regards to the direct threat of COVID-19.

This document provides a range of ideas (updated 05 Aug 2020) ECC has received from providers in relation to the Infection Control Fund for Care Homes, with a view from ECC as to whether it is an acceptable use of the fund or not.  Please note this document will be updated as and when additional ideas / information is received to support providers with the use of the infection control fund. Ideas include using the fund for additional IPC training, communication devices(laptops/tablets) to minimise contact, decontamination machines, and refurbishments to make surfaces cleanable. Items such as PPE and chemicals are not included as they are financed and provided by other sources already.

Other national government measures include,

work relentlessly to ensure sufficient appropriate COVID-19 testing capacity and continue to deliver and review the social care testing strategy,

  • work to improve the flow of testing data to everyone who needs it
  • provide free personal protective equipment (PPE) for COVID-19 needs in line with current guidance to care homes and domiciliary care providers, via the PPE portal, until the end of March 2021
  • make available for free and promote the annual flu vaccine to all health and care staff, personal assistants, and unpaid carers
  • COVID Hospital Discharge-The new requirements are the following: Anyone with a Covid-19 positive test result being discharged into or back into a registered care home setting1 must be discharged into appropriate designated setting (i.e., that has the policies, procedures, equipment and training in place to maintain infection control and support the care needs of residents) and cared for there for the remainder of the required isolation period.  These designated accommodations will need to be inspected by CQC to meet the latest CQC infection prevention control standards.  No one will be discharged into or back into a registered care home setting with a COVID-19 test result outstanding, or without having been tested within the 48 hours preceding their discharge.  Everyone being discharged into a care home must have a reported COVID test result and this must be communicated to the care home prior to the person being discharged from hospital. The care home’s registered manager should continue to assure themselves that all its admissions or readmissions are consistent with this requirement. Sufficient accommodation must be available to meet expected needs now and over the winter period. The costs of the designated facilities are expected to be met through the £588 million discharge funding. This guidance still requires all patients discharged from hospital, even with a negative test, to be isolated safely for 14 days to ensure any developing infections are managed appropriately. The CQC process would operate by providing assurance that each ‘designated accommodation’ has the policies, procedures, equipment, and training in place to maintain infection control and support the care needs of residents.

By putting in place stronger prevention, we can ensure that we continue to drive coronavirus out of our care homes, making them safer and better able to look after people who need it the most.” Rachel Maclean MP Redditch.

Cllr David Fothergill, health and social care spokesperson for the County Councils Network, said: “The announcement that infection control funding is going to be renewed for over the winter is reassuring to our staff and care providers who are facing up to a difficult few months. We need to learn from the lessons of the first wave of coronavirus and ensure that government provides social care with the necessary protection it needs over the winter period, instead of seeing the sector as an afterthought to the NHS.

 “County authorities have worked quickly to distribute this previous pot of funding directly to providers and will continue to do so over the coming weeks as we prepare for additional pressures during winter.

“We will encourage ministers to make sure the criteria for distributing the fund is as simplified as possible, so councils can get it to the frontline as quickly as possible.”

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Healthcare Facilities Management

Its Time To Extend The Professional Focus To All Care Locations

Our global response to the Covid-19 crisis continues to teach us many lessons. It illustrates where society has, historically, chosen to set aside (or ignore) many key issues. 

According to the International Facility Management Association (IFMA): “FM (facilities management) is the practice of coordinating the physical workplace with the people and work of the organization”. 

What Covid-19 illuminates

More than ever, is that for our health and care professionals, this physical workplace extends way beyond the traditional hospital environment. 

Their workplaces can be found throughout our local communities – in medical surgeries; in ‘walk-in’ and ‘drop-in’ centres; in group-care residencies; and, perhaps most challenging of all, in the family-homes of each and every one of us. 

Doctor with a stethoscope

Governments, in the spirit of responding to the crisis, are now openly acknowledging this situation.  Their communication-messages (regardless of our personal opinion of their merits) are opening the minds of the general public, to the indisputable fact that hospitals are there, ultimately, for ‘last-resort’ treatment.

There is so much that can be done, in the prevention and management of our health, in our communities and homes. But Governments, in achieving these objectives, both now, and long into the future, need to make greater use of one of their strongest assets – the ‘know-how’ of its healthcare facilities-management specialists. They can help us understand: 

  • Why is it that we regard healthcare facilities management, so differently – when these facilities are outside hospitals?
  • Why can’t the management of hygiene, infection-control, logistics and waste be as professionalised, in the community, as they are in hospitals?
  • Why couldn’t a new culture of community healthcare facilities management be strongly influenced by the professional experience of those who have ‘been there, and done it’, in our hospital system?

Alan Chadwick
Head of Healthcare Facilities Management at Knowlex

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A Moment of Reflection

It’s a Very, Very, Mad World.

I was asked by the team to share my thoughts on the IPC world, the view from the delegate world and the challenging circumstances we have found ourselves facing today. Here goes….

Shout. Shout. Let it all out. These are the things I can do without. Come on.  I’m talking to you. Come on. Social Distancing.  Self-isolation. Covid-19. Lockdown. Queues to get into a supermarket but not at the checkout? No after work pint with friends at the local. No football or cricket. Have I got enough toilet roll? Everybody wants to rule the TV Remote Control. PPE. Should I wear a face mask? How best to work from home? Is zoom safe? I do not wish to repeat the words of wiser and more learned colleagues who are far better placed to give opinions on our current circumstances. I don’t want to spread hearsay and gossip by repeating rumours such as whether PPE is being used correctly by the correct people, and not selfishly being used to create selfies on social media. Donald Trump for instance, is a far more learned source of advice on disinfectants and what constitutes fake news. Rant over with thanks to Tears for Fears.

To get back on track,  as I mulled on my role as Head of Delegate Activity and Communications,  I thought at this moment in time, sat at my kitchen table, it would be a good opportunity to reflect on some personal observations and share some general musings from the last decade.

 I first stepped into this world back in 2009, fresh from 20 years as a restaurant manager. My first foray into IPC was in Scotland. A conference led by then Scottish Health Minister Nicola Sturgeon. The venue in Edinburgh I felt was going to be a tough challenge to fill for someone who thought clostridium difficile was a tough Latin crossword clue from The Times. I was surprised by the willingness to engage and to seize the opportunity. From the Highlands to the Islands without objection they flocked with enthusiasm and cheer. Planes, trains and automobiles and in some instances, ferries were all used with attendees from the Orkneys and Shetlands joining their mainland colleagues. Armed with only a phone and a list of numbers we used to batter our way past switchboards in a direct approach which proved to be well received. My first attempts in England led to some hesitation and suspicion of our motives.

A major sea change was required to gain the trust and respect of the IPC community in England and Wales. The first step was internet access, social media and a better understanding. This led us to an intelligence-based approach where we began to listen to our potential delegates, gain their trust, and understand their fears and concerns. The information we received was fed into our production team. They then were able to start producing events that aligned with the groundswell of opinion, and which learning opportunities best tackled current targets.  I am proud to see the subsequent annual growth in attendance and the positive response we receive from you all as our programmes are announced. I am also grateful for the responses and interaction we get when asking for input.

As our confidence grew as a team, so did the candour of our audience who began to tell us about life in the trenches. I remember back in 2012 being told of “doctors to posh to wash” and issues with consultants who refused to comply with bare below the elbow. We became able to engage in debates over the efficacy of materials such as honey, silver and copper. Another common discussion was over the comparative merits of UVC versus HPV, and the correct environments to use them. Over time the conversations about the basics became fewer, perhaps showing the reward for your efforts as a collective. That was until this year, when it became obvious a new team of IPC specialists were identifying these age-old problems as issues again. Another re-occurring issue became the significance of auditing results. Just a tick box exercise for the trusts’ boards? 100% compliance-well done?! Maybe not. Here she comes with the clipboard, I’II just go wash my hands singing happy birthday.

Health Ministers come and go but infection prevention never stands still. The first minister I encountered was Andy Burnham under Labour, before the (Conservatives/Coalition) governments of austerity and reform under first Andrew Lansley, then Jeremy Hunt (Who on a personal aside I grew to respect), and latterly Matt Hancock. As we became collaborators with NHSE/I leaders it was a shock to hear of the concerns around the E-coli targets and ambition from 2016. Many of you were quick to appreciate the underlying need and many of you readily understood a need for quick adoption of new practice. The most common question I was asked back then was not why but “how do we?”.

It has been a privilege to be invited into your world and even to be invited to visit some of your hospitals and internal meetings. I have learnt to listen and ask questions, and you have all kindly and patiently explained the issues in lay terms to me. It has been fabulous to hear of local projects that have achieved stunning results. It has also been great to connect silos of activity that might otherwise have remained in ignorance of others tackling similar projects. I have been able to feel your passion and strongly held beliefs in the day to day fight to tackle HCAIs in all settings. Along the way we have shared much chocolate cake and coffee! We have also had a lot of fun and laughter. I was going to share the story of how a delegate gave me a telephone number to contact her and I ended up speaking to a lift that was stuck on the third floor at Watford General, but that can wait for another day.

 Of late some of you have asked us to help with identifying technology or innovation that can be applied to a specific objective you are dealing with locally. Our exhibition team travel to trade shows around the world to identify these solutions and we are always happy to make an introduction that might lead to a trial or discussion, you just need to ask. We may not always be successful, but we are happy to try. As our reputation has spread, we are now operating internationally in the Middle East with other ventures in Europe and North America under consideration.

In these tough times now, on behalf of the Knowlex team, I want to express our gratitude to you all for your effort and personal sacrifice, as well as those of your teams. A genuine and heartfelt appreciation of the work you do to keep everybody safe and well. We look forward to seeing you all again on the other side with a fresh new programme of new additional activities to supplement our existing and established events. Thank you so much for the time and trust you have invested in us.

Best wishes David Nicholls
As a Liverpool fan it would be remiss of me not to leave my final thought as YNWA.