Effective environmental cleaning protects the health of patients and staff: successful training is available

GAMA Healthcare Australia Pty Ltd

Friday, 21 September, 2018


Over recent years there has been substantial evidence showing that bacterial contamination of environmental surfaces in hospital rooms is a major factor in the transmission of healthcare-associated pathogens.1,2 Pathogens such as Vancomycin resistant Enterococci (VRE), Norovirus, Clostridium difficile (C. diff), Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and other multidrug resistant (MDR) bacteria can persist in the environment for days, weeks and months; posing an ongoing risk for transmission and acquisition.3

Despite many advances in technology, cleaning by hand is still the main way of breaking the chain of environmental pathogenic transmission. But despite the importance of effective, thorough cleaning, studies show that some members of environmental cleaning staff often do not clean surfaces as recommended. Murphy et al, demonstrated that less than 50% of hospital room surfaces are adequately cleaned when manual cleaning techniques are used.4 Since the human factor is known to be a vital yet variable ingredient of cleaning compliance and success, ongoing education to improve cleaning staff’s understanding and knowledge of their vital role is a pragmatic strategy to promote and improve cleaning compliance and efficacy.

Historically, environmental cleaning departments are known to be extremely busy, and many may also be under resourced. It’s common for new staff members to be trained using a ‘buddy’ system, whereby the new employee works and learns side-by-side with an existing member of staff. Managers have recognised that this method of training is far from ideal; bad habits, short cuts and outdated information and practices may be passed on, leading to confusion and ineffective environmental cleaning.

The clinical specialists at GAMA Healthcare Australia believe that patients and healthcare workers deserve a safe and clean environment. We understand the role of environmental contamination in healthcare settings relating to transmission of pathogens and healthcare-associated infections (HAIs). The team has successfully designed and implemented a programme of educational workshops and packages ranging from 15 minute in-services to comprehensive 1 hour modules. These include hands-on cleaning workshops and assessment-based learning about current evidence, best practice, standards, and infection prevention principles and guidelines to meet the needs of busy hospital and healthcare cleaning departments. The modules are tailored to benefit all levels of staff abilities and there’s also an innovative, hands-on element using UV fluorescent markers. That visual aid gives staff an easy, practical illustration of the difference between ineffectual or effective cleaning, affording the opportunity to put what they have learnt into practice.

The success of ‘Module 1’ has been remarkable. Feedback from cleaning staff highlights the value of small groups of 6-8 participants.

…well prepared and delivered, the facilitator kept to small groups, which made the training easy for staff to understand and ask questions and it was followed by an assessment”. Grace Moustoukas – Training coordinator Support Services, Townsville Hospital, QLD.

Participants have expressed their gratitude to managers for being allowed to attend the session. They are proud of themselves for gaining new knowledge, and are excited to put it into practice.

The workshop was engaging, and empowering, with initiatives easy to implement”. Miguel Barros – Support Services Manager, Northern Health, VIC.

Environmental services staff’s knowledge, attitudes and beliefs about the importance of their role may have a significant impact on their attitude and enthusiasm for cleaning – and in turn on the effectiveness of their efforts. GAMA Healthcare is committed to providing ongoing training and support for all our customers. We believe that knowledge, through education and support, is empowering. It enables staff to apply a rationale to their duties that plays a crucial role in the healthcare setting as they feel included in the battle against healthcare-associated pathogens, striving for patient and staff safety.

To find out more about GAMA’s ground-breaking training programmes, please contact GAMA using the details below.

For more information visit www.gamahealthcare.com.au

Address: GAMA Healthcare Australia Pty Ltd., 1/395 Nepean Highway, Frankston, Victoria 3199, Australia.

Tel: +61 (0)3 9769 6600 | Fax: +61 (0)3 9769 6677 | Email: info@gamahealthcare.com


1. Weber D J, Anderson D, & Rutala W A. The role of the surface environment in healthcare associated infection. Am J Infect Control : 26 (5);338–344.

2. Dancer S J. The role of hospital cleaning in the control of hospital acquired infection. J Hosp Infect 2009: 73(4); 378–385.

3. Mitchell B, Dancer S J, Anderson M, & Dehn E. Risk of organism acquisition from prior room occupants: a systematic review and meta-analysis. J Hosp Infect 2015:(91); 211–217.

4. Murphy CL, Macbeth DA, Derrington P, et al. An assessment of high touch object cleaning thoroughness using a fluorescent marking in two Australian hospitals. Healthcare infection 2011: (16) 4;156–163.

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