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Infection Control Standards For Adult Care Homes

UNISON Scotland's Response to the Scottish Executive Health Department Consultation on Infection Control Standards for Adult Care Homes

February 2003

Executive Summary

  • UNISON Scotland welcomes the opportunity to contribute to this consultation document.
  • The role of trade unions as crucial to the development and implementation of infection control standards needs to be incorporated into the document. Trade unions should be partners throughout the process of infection control.
  • Training and education for all workers in adult care homes is vital to any infection control programmes.
  • The Scottish Executive should recognise issues of resources and capacity building which need to be addressed for the successful implementation of the infection control standards.

Introduction

UNISON is Scotland's largest trade union representing 150,000 members working in the public sector. UNISON represents workers throughout the public sector, including the health service, local authorities, and the voluntary and care sectors. We have substantial membership in the care homes sector, both working for local authorities and voluntary organisations, and therefore we welcome the opportunity to contribute to this consultation.

This paper constitutes UNISON Scotland's response to the Scottish Executive Health Department's consultation on Infection Control Standards for Adult Care Homes.

Response

Composition of the Working Group - Role of Trade Union

First, UNISON Scotland would like to express our disappointment at the absence of trade unions on the Working Group that developed these proposals. Trade unions play a vital role in developing and maintaining a healthy working environment. Indeed statistics from the Labour Resource Department show that workplaces that are trade union organised are likely to be twice as safe as those that are not union organised. With this in mind, we think it is regretable that trade unions were not included in the working group, and that the potential role of unions was not incorporated into the draft standards.

UNISON Scotland believes trade unions should be an integral part of developing, implementing and monitoring infection control programmes in adult care homes. Trade union representatives, including trade union health and safety representatives play crucial roles in ensuring health and safety in the workplace. We want to see specific references to the role of the union rep in the draft standards.

The appropriate trade union reps should be included on the Infection Control Group (Standard 2). This will ensure that workers views are represented, and that the knowledge and specialist skills of the trade union can be incorporated in the work of the Infection Control Group.

The Infection Control Key Worker(s) (Standard 3) should be required to work closely with the trade union health and safety representative. Again, this will mean that the Infection Control Key Worker can draw on the specialist knowledge of the union rep, and will ensure that workers are protected and advised on the implementation of the infection control programme, and on any infection control problems.

If the Infection Control Group has trade union representation on it, then it is likely that the annual Infection Control Programme (Standard 5) will have been developed in consultation with employees and unions. UNISON Scotland believes that employees in care homes are important stakeholders in this service, and should therefore be consulted appropriately, along with service users.

UNISON would expect trade union representatives to be fully involved in the audit of compliance with infection control policies / procedures / guidelines (Standard 7). Audit results should be automatically reported to the trade union representatives, along with the Infection Control Report (Standard 8). As noted above, the expertise of trade unions in health and safety initiatives should assist the Infection Control Group in its work.

 

Training and Education

UNISON Scotland strongly welcomes the provision for education, training and support for all staff in infection control (Standard 10). We particularly welcome the point to include staff employment by support services, and take this to include workers employed by a contractor. This education and training should be provided with the support of the trade unions, and we welcome the proposals to keep records of staff attendance at training.

 

Contracting

As noted above we believe companies or organisations contracted to provide services should ensure that their staff are trained in infection control procedures. UNISON is clear that all contractors should be required to adhere to the infection control programmes (Standard 4).

Resources and Capacity

In order to properly and fully implement infection control standards adult care homes and other such organisations will require resources for training, personnel, equipment, auditing and reporting. UNISON is concerned that adult care homes in many cases already face many demands on tight budgets. In addition, we note that not all care homes in the voluntary and private sectors have the capacity in terms of personnel, experience and expertise to implement infection control standards.

Whilst we note the additional resources the Scottish Executive has recently provided for the care homes sector, we are still concerned that the resources and capacity are currently not at the levels required to implement infection control programmes effectively. In terms of capacity building, we believe that trade unions can play an important role in assisting and supporting the sector to achieve best practice.

 

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For Further Information Please Contact:

Matt Smith, Scottish Secretary
UNISONScotland
UNISON House
14, West Campbell Street,
Glasgow G2 6RX

Tel 0141-332 0006 Fax 0141 342 2835

e-mail matt.smith@unison.co.uk

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