Can a good working relationship between nurses and cleaning staff help improve patient care and safety? A new report by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) and the Association of Healthcare Cleaning Professionals (AHCP) thinks so.
The report, Creating a Safe Environment for Care, examines the role of the nursing and cleaning staff in England and implementation of infection prevention and control strategies. It reinforces the importance of decontaminating surfaces and equipment to minimize the risk of infection caused by Clostridium difficile (C. diff) infections, Norovirus and antibiotic-resistant organisms.
The report is considered the first step to define the relationships of both groups, who are responsible for maintaining a safe and hygienic patient environment.
"This is the first time the relationship between cleaning and nursing staff has been explored," Rose Gallagher, infection control and prevention advisor for RCN, told Nursing in Practice. She said cultural and organizational barriers sometimes prevent good relationships between the two groups. Organizations should use the report as a step to break down those barriers.
The report is based on ideas generated from a series of workshops conducted in 2012 at RCN and AHCP events in England. They described the three attributes of a good relationship: effective communication; a supportive environment that encourages staff to raise concerns; and a culture of respect and value.
Leaders at hospitals, health systems and other provider settings can help shape the nursing-cleaning staff relationships by clearly defining expectations of nursing and cleaning staff, providing training and acknowledging good work, according to the report.