Statutory cleanliness and hygiene control measures are implemented in the food industry and professional kitchens, thereby securing high-quality food for customers and a safe environment for employees. However, the situation is different in health care, where self-monitoring is not supervised. Kirsi Saukkonen, Docent of Infection Research, has already been worried about the situation for a long time and encourages hospitals to prepare for self-monitoring, because monitoring and standards will also be introduced in health care.
Self-monitoring is currently under-developed
”People always imagine that the situation in health-care is good, but this is not the case. Infections in hospitals are increasing all the time, even though the developed countries already have access to methods and tools for achieving outstanding results”, Kirsi says. Self-monitoring simply does not reach the actual users and the lack of control makes the situation even worse.
”There are many grey areas in health care for which nobody is responsible. Information is not always communicated, due to the hierarchy between different personnel groups. If the institutional care personnel do not participate in ward meetings, the employees do not know what diseases are treated in the ward. It is impossible to ensure the level of hygiene that a specific situation requires if people are not aware of what is going on at the ward”, Kirsi says.
Self-monitoring is also a guarantee of occupational safety
People react negatively to being monitored, so we should emphasise the word SELF-monitoring. Employees should be motivated to adopt good working methods and to turn the methods into established practices. ”Self-monitoring is always considered more acceptable by emphasising occupational safety. An organisation carrying out responsible quality assurance and self-monitoring is also a responsible workplace”, Kirsi points out.
When the freedom of choice is adopted in health care, image starts to play an increasingly important role. According to Kirsi, self-monitoring is the way to enhance image and bring out the positive aspects of the unit for customers and potential employees. New-generation customers are accustomed to using social media, so they can readily find information on which hospital to go. A hospital with no self-monitoring is considered to resist reforms and its operations are thought to be non-transparent.
A health-care cleaning standard to be adopted in Finland
A major develop leap will take place in self-monitoring in the future. The health care cleaning standard introduced in Sweden in 2017 will also be adopted in Finland, and Kirsi has been promoting the matter for the Finnish Standards Association SFS. ”The cleaning standard defines hygiene levels for the various spaces in health care, measurement limits for self-monitoring and critical contact points where samples must be taken. Thanks to the standard’s limit values, it is easier to start planning self-monitoring in health care”, Kirsi says with a delighted voice.
How to get started with self-monitoring?
Self-monitoring should be started by setting up a self-monitoring team that has members from as many personnel groups as possible (ward domestics, nursing personnel, infection unit etc.). ”It is a good idea to carry out a pilot survey in one’s own unit in order to find out its level of cleanliness. The latter depends on the age of the building, the number of employees and the cleaning methods in use, for example. After that, self-monitoring is made an established routine in the unit and measures are taken to expand it to other units. Kiilto’s HygiNet® service, which has been developed for preparing and maintaining a hygiene plan, can be utilised in recording the results of self-monitoring. Just like everything else that is new, self-monitoring may cause resistance to change at first. However, it will improve the quality of work in the long term and help people find new practices that make their everyday work easier”, Kirsi encourages.
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