Australian infection control practitioners’ practice and educational needs in aged care settings
Professor Ramon Z. Shaban1,2,3,4, Dr Cristina Sotomayor-Castillo1,2, Dr Deborough Macbeth5, Associate Professor Philip L. Russo6,7, Professor Brett G. Mitchell8
1Faculty of Medicine and Health, Susan Wakil School of Nursing and Midwifery, University of Sydney, Camperdown, Australia
2Marie Bashir Institute for Infectious Diseases and Biosecurity, University of Sydney, Camperdown, Australia
3Division of Infectious Diseases and Sexual Health, Westmead Hospital and Western Sydney Local Health District, Westmead, Australia
4New South Wales Biocontainment Centre, Western Sydney Local Health District and New South Wales Health, Australia
5Infection Control Department, Infectious Diseases and Immunology, Gold Coast Hospital and Health Service, Southport, Australia
6Department of Nursing Research, Cabrini Institute, Australia
7Nursing and Midwifery, Monash University, Clayton, Australia
8School of Nursing and Midwifery, Faculty of Health and Medicine, Newcastle University, Australia
Introduction: Healthcare-associated infections are serious and significant complications present across healthcare services, including residential & aged care facilities (RACFs). Although ensuring high quality personal and clinical care delivered to those residing in these facilities is a high national priority, there is a paucity of evidence about outbreaks, governance and education programs held for healthcare workers within Australian residential aged care facilities. This study aims to examine the scope of practice of infection control practitioners (ICPs) within Australian residential aged care facilities and the types of infection prevention and control education and training delivered.
Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted inviting all Australian residential aged care facilities to participate in an online survey.
Results: A total of 134 residential aged care facilities completed the survey. The majority (88.1%) reported having a designated Infection Prevention and Control professional responsible for surveillance and educational activities. Hand hygiene (94%), personal protective equipment (PPE) (79.9%) and environmental cleaning (70.1%) were some of the available Infection Prevention and Control programs. The lack of access to Infection Prevention and Control education (69.5%) and lack of Infection Prevention and Control expert advice (67.2%) were also reported by some Residential aged care facilities.
Conclusion: Australian RACFs recognise the importance of IPC training programs to manage infection surveillance and outbreaks. Despite considerable activities carried out to increase knowledge on breaking the chain of infection, barriers such as the potential lack of access to specialised advice are significant. More support including formal studies and resources are needed to assist these efforts.
Professor Shaban is a leading internationally credentialled expert infection control practitioner with strengths in high-consequence infectious diseases, disease control, emergency care and antimicrobial resistance. He is Clinical Chair and Professor of Infection Prevention and Disease Control at The University of Sydney and WSLHD.