October 28, 2021 3 min read

The novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2 — has caused “the most remarkable interruption to daily life in living memory, if not modern history”1. Although there have been a number of ‘smaller’ outbreaks in the last century, you will need to go back to the Spanish flu of 1918 – 1920, which killed between 20 – 50 million people1, to find one that has had such a devastating effect on not only the Australian healthcare system but to our general way of life. So, it was no surprise that not only were Australians underprepared but the gaps in our healthcare system and hygiene protocols were exposed and found to be lacking.

 

Following the arrival of COVID,  The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (The Commission) and the Australian Government Infection Control Expert Group have been working frantically to update and develop guidelines, implement new practices, and provide support and resources to ensure that Health Service organisations are better prepared to deal with the current and any future epidemics. The Commission has since released a number of standards pertaining to the allied health and therapy sector including Environmental Cleaning resourcesPreventing and Controlling Infections Standard, and COVID 19: Infection Prevention and Control Risk Management.

 

Pre-COVID, The Commission – our leader in ensuring patient centred, safe and high quality healthcare is consistent across the country – had been working on developing the National Safety and Quality Primary and Community Healthcare  (NSQPCH) Standards. However, with hospital and aged care focused standards already established, emphasis shifted toward the safety of community based allied health and other healthcare practitioners. Any practitioner who is involved in the direct care of patients, whether it be privately or publicly funded, large or small, that address “the prevention, treatment and management of illness or injury”2is recommended to implement the relevant safety and hygiene standards to ensure the delivery of person-centred, safe and high-quality health care.

 

As the first nationally consistent safety and quality standards in healthcare, the Honourable Greg Hunt – Minister for Health and Aged Care – stated “these standards are about the future”3 and are necessary in order “to care for the patient, to do it safely, and to do it in a way which enhances their professional standing and pride, which is already at the highest level”3.The NSQOCH Standards identifies and details three vital aspects in a clinical environment – clinical governance, partnership with consumers and clinical safety practices. A key outcome of the NSQPCH Standards, as well as the National Safety and Quality Health Service Standards is to make the consumer feel safe and comfortable when accessing healthcare. Providing this requires:

- ensuring that equipment is well maintained and fit-for-purpose;

- “identifying areas that have a high risk2;

- implementing evidence-based processes to minimise, prevent and control infections;

- applying the Australian Guidelines for the Prevention and Control of Infections in Healthcare; and,

- maintaining a clean and hygienic environment

 

Currently, accreditation to the Primary and Community Healthcare Standards is voluntary, however, healthcare services may be required to become accredited in the future to satisfy regulatory, contractual or funding obligations.

 

The patented Purifas® FaceShield™ is the only physical hygiene barrier worldwide that provides 100% coverage of a therapy bed facehole and surrounds. Using FaceShield™ for all prone therapies may help meet the requirements of these standards.

 

“These standards are about saving lives and protecting lives and I’m delighted to launch them”3

The Honourable Greg Hunt - Minister for Health and Aged Care

 

To learn more about these standards, click here.

 

References

  1. https://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/publications/research-papers/download/36-research-papers/13957-epidemics-and-pandemics-in-victoria-historical-perspectives - accessed 11 October 2021
  2. https://www.safetyandquality.gov.au/sites/default/files/2021-10/national_safety_and_quality_primary_and_community_healthcare_standards.pdf - accessed 14 October 2021
  3. https://www.safetyandquality.gov.au/standards/primary-and-community-healthcare - the Primary and Community Healthcare Standards webcast launch event on 12 October 2021 – accessed on 14 October 2021.


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