Infection Control is Everyone’s Business

Infection prevention and control is an essential component of any health care delivery. Infection prevention and control measures can be as simple as hand washing and as sophisticated as high-level disinfection of surgical instruments. Implementing these measures can prevent transmission of disease in any health or social care settings and the community.

Infectious diseases can spread in a variety of ways: through the air, from direct or indirect contact with another person, soiled objects, skin or mucous membrane, saliva, urine, blood and body secretions, through sexual contact, and through contaminated food and water.

Healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) are a recognised public health problem and known to have a significant impact on morbidity and mortality in the population. HAIs are acquired by people during the course of receiving treatment within a healthcare setting whether in a hospital, community setting or care home.

The importance of infection prevention and control cannot be overemphasised.

Over the last few decades the importance of infection control within care home settings has increased due to a number of contributing factors. Throughout Europe, there has been an increase in the number of places in nursing, residential homes and hospices. This has resulted in an increase in the number of people cared for with residents spending longer periods of time in care homes.

Many of these residents are in the highest age groups in the population due to an increase in population age. Older people are a vulnerable group who are more susceptible to infection due to increased age and underlying health problems which reduce their ability to fight infection.

The profile of residents is also changing in relation with changes in areas of healthcare. There is an increase in the level of care required for residents, because of earlier discharge from acute care hospitals and an increasing use of invasive devices.

Preventing and controlling Healthcare Associated Infections (HAIs) is a national priority for the Scottish Government. Whilst many HAIs may be improving many are still considered as avoidable and consistent standard infection control practices (SICPs) and education plays a key role in making this happen.