Thinking about and reducing staff touch-points

When talking about touch-points we are referring to anything in the sluice room that staff must or will touch as a result of going about their duties. One of the worst offenders in a care environment in terms of the risk of spread of infection through staff touching are curtains. If, in the unlikely event your sluice room is fitted with blinds or curtains that need to be touched to operate then this should be addressed post-haste. There are plenty of powered, self-disinfecting blinds on the market.

Bacteria can be easily acquired by staff touching environmental surfaces with hands or gloved hands. This has been demonstrated in many case studies. If these include possible pathogens, all surfaces can represent risk factors for onward transmission. This knowledge may not be universally widespread in the workplace, so the importance of information in the form of emails and laminated posters on the walls outside sluice rooms cannot be underestimated.

Computer keyboards and screens in wards have been demonstrated to be the most ‘touched’ pieces of equipment alongside equipment trolleys in the hospital environment. In the sluice room, the control panels of macerators and other equipment replace these. Encouraging staff to use hand sanitiser before and after touching these key pieces of equipment is a good start to improving hand hygiene in the sluice room. Prior to entering the sluice room is also an important time to deploy hand sanitiser to avoid the introduction of bacteria from other parts of the care home or hospital.

When it comes to the actual reduction of staff touch-points in the sluice room, this can be aided by ensuring that all necessary equipment and supplies are always kept in the same place and fully equipped with vital components and accessories, so staff are not hunting around, touching multiple surfaces and storage areas.