Delivering vital training in infection prevention and control to staff across the whole of Yorkshire can be a logistical headache, especially when juggling the needs of a round-the-clock service for those in police custody.
“The only option we had was either staff came to us in Leeds or we went to them,” says senior infection prevention nurse Jo Reynard, who works for Leeds Community Healthcare NHS Trust. “But you were often looking at round trips of 100 miles or more, all to train one or two people for an hour. It didn’t make sense and we knew we really needed to consider some different approaches.”
A large part of Jo’s role is to provide mandatory training every two years to around 100 health care professionals based at 16 suites throughout Yorkshire and Humberside, who provide a 24-hour, 365 days a year service for people admitted to police custody. The hour-long course covers issues such needlestick injuries, waste and sharps management, hand hygiene, and keeping equipment and facilities safe and clean.
Late in 2017, her trust piloted using Skype to deliver tailor-made presentations and videos to the four nurses and two forensic medical officers who took part in the first course. Two of the participants came from as far away as Hull - which would have been a round trip of 140 miles - and overall, they saved 537 miles and almost nine-and-a-half hours of time spent travelling.
But cutting costs, reducing travel time, and the carbon footprint weren’t the only benefits, says Jo. As a lot of these staff work in isolation, being able to bring people together from different geographical areas has helped to boost morale, she believes. “They could all talk to each other and share information,” she says. As staff aren’t away from their patients for very long, it also reduces the need to provide cover.
In the past, if custody staff attended sessions run centrally, other professionals in the group were likely to be working in very different settings, such as schools or the community. “It neutralises the benefits,” says Jo. “Custody staff are not getting what they need, whereas this training has been designed specifically for them, so we can look at the challenges they face on a day-to-day basis. They can ask questions relating to their own clinical experiences, focusing on resolving their particular issues.”
In one instance, a participant was unsure about whether one of the hand hygiene products she had been given was suitable. “She could just go and get it and show everyone there and then,” says Jo. “In a classroom that wouldn’t have been possible. As a result, we were all able to reassure her it was spot on.”
Getting the new training approach off the ground has not all been plain sailing, Jo admits, with challenges over securing the right equipment and some technical glitches to overcome, alongside spreading the message that the courses are available. “And initially it feels a bit odd that you’re not doing it face-to-face,” says Jo. “But it’s a technology that we’re all using much more now in other aspects of our lives, so why not use it for training.”
Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. “The staff loved it,” says Jo. “It’s easy because they don’t have to travel and they can see their colleagues who work elsewhere and have a bit of a chat.”
Now the plan is to roll it out to other teams within the organisation, with another 10 sessions scheduled for those working in custody suites. “I think it’s really exciting and innovative,” says Jo.