Chief Clinician cautions against complacency during International Infection Prevention Week

18 October 2021

International Infection Prevention Week from 17 – 23 October reminds us to stay vigilant as living with COVID-19 becomes normalised, cautions Southern Cross Care Queensland’s chief clinician, Sandra Glaister.

“As we all come to terms with living through a pandemic, it’s human nature to slip into complacency and forget that disease prevention is actually in our hands,” Sandra, the Chief of Quality and Governance, said.

“We must all play our part to protect the health and wellbeing of ourselves, our families and our communities, especially at this time, by making sure we stay up-to-date and practice the latest infection prevention and control measures.  Infection prevention measures such as handwashing, wearing personal protective equipment such as masks, and physical distancing can protect us not only from COVID-19 but other infectious diseases too like the flu, and gastroenteritis.”

The theme of the awareness campaign this week is ‘Make your intention infection prevention’, which reminds us that prevention is always far better than cure.

“COVID-19 remains a very real and present danger everywhere, and not a risk we want to take, especially in our residential age care homes, because we know older people are particularly vulnerable to the disease,” Sandra said.

Sandra heads SCCQ’s Outbreak Advisory Group, a team of clinical and operational experts who meet regularly to monitor, assess and proactively prepare for the ongoing risk of a COVID-19 outbreak in any one of the 11 aged care homes or 5 retirement living estates in the Southern Cross Care Queensland family.

“We are continually revising our policies, procedures and guidelines, and engaging our care community in best practice infection prevention and control measures in line with the latest health authority directives and research,” Sandra revealed.

“This includes updating Infection Prevention management plans at all our sites and taking our teams through mock outbreak drills, so they are ready to respond in the crucial first 24 hours of an outbreak.

“In addition, we continue to enforce rigorous cleaning protocols, ongoing hand hygiene measures and active screening of all visitors to our sites,” she said.

“We are incredibly grateful to our residents, families and staff for the way they have conducted themselves throughout the pandemic, because effective infection prevention really is about a whole-of-community response.

“They are all true Infection Prevention warriors and have stepped up to every health directive from lockdowns, mask-wearing, getting tested, getting vaccinated and more,” Sandra said.

In the end, Sandra believes while hand-hygiene, mask-wearing, social distancing, isolating when unwell and using PPE remain key, vaccination will be the ultimate way forward.

“Vaccination has been the only way we have overcome and even eradicated serious diseases throughout history.  I am very optimistic that our community will rise to this challenge and eventually, COVID-19 will be beaten,” she said.