I love to see businesses that are working hard to create better infection prevention protocols. Who are stepping up to protect their customers and the community around them. And similar to the Driving Test Tale, this story is full of great intentions... However, one area that businesses continue to struggle with is proper training and implementation of these protocols.
I have worked with healthcare facilities for over 20 years, and our family business has supported healthcare for over 50 years. In that time, one of the biggest challenges I see, time and time again, is not investing in the proper, ongoing education and training surrounding infection prevention and control products and protocols.
I am not sure if this has to do with feelings that cleaning is intuitive - I mean we all clean on a daily basis in our personal lives... why is that so much different that in our professional lives? Wiping a surface is wiping a surface - right? Well it's actually more complicated than that.
Let's start with a recent shopping experience that I had. I was out this weekend to purchase some much needed winter clothing... Winter is right around the corner and wanting to avoid the rush of shoppers, I decided to embark on my journey in search for a new winter coat. So I decided to get to the store early, to beat the rush on a Sunday morning.
Upon entering the store I was greeted with a masked gentlemen, some hand sanitizer, and what I think was a friendly smile behind his mask. I felt the effort they were making to help us feel comforted and protected as we entered the store.
I circled the store a few times, seeing what they had, selecting the perfect coat to keep me warm, dry, and cozy for the winter. After-all, winter in Atlantic Canada is cold, unpredictable and typically lasts most of the year...
The cashier had a line up of a few people, and I socially distanced and waited patiently for my turn. Upon walking up to the cashier, she asked for a moment, pulled out a spray bottle and paper towel, and proceeded to spray one time on each surface - the pin pad screen, the customer counter, and the cashier counter. She immediately wiped the barely wet spot on the surface - starting with the dirtiest (pin pad screen) and then the customer counter and then the cashier counter.
Now, the store's intentions were great. Practicing cleaning and disinfection between each customer is great to help slow the spread of germs, HOWEVER, the protocol was not as effective as it could have been, and may have resulted in spreading more germs than it was actually killing or removing.
Let's break this down a little...
The Pin Pad
I would argue this was likely the most highly touched surface in the store. In a store where most items were priced close to or over $50, it is unlikely that most customers were using their tap - they were likely needing to enter their pin. So wiping down the pin pad is a great way to help slow the spread... BUT!
When the cashier sprayed and wiped - there were a few red flags.
First - she sprayed the screen, not the actual pin pad where customers touch. So that meant the surfaces that were repeatedly being touched were not actually being sprayed or wiped.
Second - when a surface is quickly sprayed and wiped, it is not achieving contact time.
No contact time = no disinfection
Again, making an effort to clean and disinfect the counter between customers where customers rest their hands, lean against, etc, is great! However, when a surface is being quickly sprayed and wiped, it is not likely achieving contact time.
No contact time = no disinfection
The other area of concern for me, was the cleaning process when from the dirtiest (pin pad) to the cleanest (cashier counter where minimal contact is made). What does this mean? That cashier may have been actually helping to spread the germs by cross contaminating one surface to the next. Proper infection prevention cleaning protocols always start from the cleanest surfaces to the dirtiest to minimize cross contamination.
In summary, the take away message is simple, understanding how to clean and disinfect is AS IMPORTANT as the products you use.
Ensuring all staff understands how to implement the protocols, effectively use the products is key to keeping your staff, customers, and business healthy.
We are always here to help answer your questions, help you create a protocol, and help you train your staff. We know your product is only as good as the processes you have to use them.