The challenges of a one person infection prevention team

Libby Oakes1

1Bethesda Health Care, PO Box 45, Claremont WA 6910

Managing an Infection Prevention & Control (IPC) program as a single Infection Control professional (ICP) in an organisation is challenging and rewarding. Whilst acknowledging the catch cry “Infection prevention and control is everybody’s business”, the single ICP must act as the fountain of all infection prevention knowledge. Unlike larger organisations, the single ICP is the holder of all portfolios, from compliance requirements, implementation and maintenance of the National Safety and Quality Health Service Standards to drive safe practice and monitoring and feedback of processes and outcomes to those that can influence change. Sparking a passion for safety and facilitating teamwork is key to delivery of safe IPC practices and for all who interact with our hospitals or healthcare settings including patients, visitors and healthcare workers. The broad requirements of the role mean there is no such thing as ‘a normal day’ in Infection Prevention. Education for staff, patients or visitors, meeting the project team who are planning a refurbishment, managing an occupational exposure and other staff health risk assessments, collecting and validating surveillance data and progressing the antimicrobial stewardship program are examples of the varied nature of the role.  Competing demands require the ability to plan and prioritise whilst being agile enough to respond to emerging issues promptly. Change is a constant and change leadership requires drive and vision.  I suggest we are never really working as a single practitioner, but rather using our expert knowledge to engage, educate and inspire to promote excellence in practice.

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