IPC compliance refers to the adherence to infection control measures put in place to cope with an outbreak of the coronavirus in healthcare-centric workplaces. The importance of robust infection control is key to a strong sector recovery from the pandemic and as the IPC compliance assessment tool notes, “it is integral to the control of any Covid-19 outbreak, or to prevent it from having a direct impact on your service”.
But whilst workplaces are able to tackle IPC compliance through aids such as the tool, individual noncompliance and creating a supportive environment for reporting noncompliance is an altogether different issue.
Staff can often find it difficult to speak out against defiance even amongst close peers because of fears of ramifications affecting their standing or workplace environment. But by creating a supportive atmosphere where everyone is empowered to speak up and feedback is rewarded, we are able to ensure that each and every member of the team becomes an IPC compliance advocate. The consideration of anonymous feedback is also crucial to encourage people to speak up.
Where has generating a supportive environment been successful?
Within the healthcare sector, we don’t need to look much further than Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.
Launching its own ‘People Plan’ in 2021, the Trust aims to tackle issues and concerns raised by colleagues whilst taking feedback from staff surveys.
The document released to the public outlining the plan’s overarching vision lays out goals running until 2024 accompanied by supportive success initiatives.
Highlighting that a ‘compassionate and inclusive’ culture is necessary to a good working environment, which in turn translates into an organisation able to deliver better levels of care.
Speaking to Leading Healthcare News, the Trust’s Director of People and Organisational Development, Darren Skinner, said: “Our three-year People Plan is a new approach to tackling our colleagues’ issues and concerns. It sets out our commitment to all our colleagues – to fully support them to be the best they can be at work. Rightly so, it has been developed by listening to our people, as well as feedback from our regular staff surveys.”
By laying out a commitment to building a sympathetic and encouraging environment and actively engaging staff in its construction, Leeds and York Partnership have the foundations to create a culture where reporting noncompliance is not considered taboo.
“We are committed to taking action on staff feedback,” the Trust’s Chief Executive notes; “colleagues can also have their say in local meetings that are being arranged to discuss the actions that they think are most important at their local team or service level so we can together make things better for everyone.”
What tools can we use to replicate the culture?
Staff surveys are a recurring theme throughout Leeds and York’s initiative and enable anonymity when reporting complaints or noncompliance. Recent digitisation of survey platforms in the healthcare sector ensures that everyone has a chance to partake at a time that suits them with pop-ups and reminders to prompt engagement.
Providers such as WiFi SPARK champion the use of surveys running from the on-site WiFi to engage with patients and staff across the NHS, receiving feedback to improve service levels is just the beginning of what effective survey usage can do. Enabling you to segment your audience by venue and location and then analyse your data making it easy to enact real change.
But it’s by reinforcing team values in the workplace and sharing messaging that it’s okay to share your thoughts which makes a cultural difference. Communicating the encouragement of speaking out against defiance can make a real difference as to whether someone wants to speak out altogether.
Senior leaders heading the initiative removes any fear surrounding adverse repercussions as well. So like Leeds and York, establishing your own solution for reporting issues of IPC compliance needs to amalgamate anonymous and group avenues of reporting to ensure everyone has a space in which they feel comfortable.
Everyone understands the severity of the coronavirus but as we go past the second anniversary of the UK going into its first lockdown, many, worryingly, have let their guard down when it comes to infection control.
By using aids such as the National Care Forum’s IPC Compliance Assessment Tool to ensure proper structural strategy is in place, reinforcing that by establishing a familial, encouraging working culture and providing an outlet, such as digitised staff surveys, for reporting incidents of noncompliance, we can ensure that we remain vigilant in the face of coronavirus and other infections for years to come.
To learn more about the capabilities of digital survey platforms and how you can make them work for you, download WiFi SPARK’s Engage brochure.