Health and social care providers have worked steadily to improve standards, but many still have a long way to go. According to the Care Quality Commission one in five NHS trusts does not comply with at least one of the three standards relating to the hygiene code. Louise Pasterfield examines how e-learning can help organisations attain and maintain compliance before the next CQC report.

Ensuring compliance is a challenge - health and social care providers may employ hundreds (even thousands) of clinical and non-clinical staff across multiple sites, each with different skills and job responsibilities, working normal business hours or in shifts. 

It is difficult and expensive to organise and run classroom-based courses, particularly for regular mandatory training, so many organisations are turning to e-learning.  Available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and normally delivered in short, bite-size modules, e-learning minimises the impact on productivity and patient care while staff improve their skills. 

However, organisations are seeing variable returns on their investment in e-learning.  An off-the-shelf hygiene training solution may seem cost-effective, but it cannot account for the difference in needs and processes between a mental health trust and an acute trust.  Bespoke e-learning, designed to address the organisation’s specific hygiene issues, can deliver compliance much more effectively than generic training that may omit key learning points

Bespoke e-learning can be rolled out quite quickly, cut out superfluous content and help users to attain relevant knowledge and competence more quickly, which is essential for busy, pressurised health and social care employees.   

However, delivering high-quality, targeted e-learning is only one part of the equation.  To ensure compliance, it is essential to market the training to the relevant members of staff. 

Email teaser campaigns can be used to create interest and posters and email marketing campaigns used to promote participation. Initiatives like personal development plans encourage employees to take greater control of their own professional development, so they can be motivated by awarding certificates for course completions, which are then taken into consideration during the appraisal process. 

By hosting the e-learning on a good quality learning management system, it is possible to generate automatic email reminders for staff who need to undertake the training, until it has been completed.  This avoids the problem of having large numbers of non-compliant “Did not attends”. 

Moreover, automatic registration of completions means the organisation possesses much more timely and accurate data that can be used to demonstrate compliance.  Some bespoke providers will even host the e-learning – an ideal solution for organisations lacking their own LMS.

The cost of effective, bespoke e-learning pales into insignificance against the cost of failing to meet CQC standards (which can result in fines, expensive litigation or closure). It’s also quicker and less expensive to update e-learning, delivering longer-term value. 

The CQC chief executive has urged organisations to become compliant over the next few months (before the next round of declarations) and e-learning can deliver real improvements within that timeframe. More importantly, good hygiene standards are essential for containing the spread of swine flu

With a second wave of the virus due in the autumn, there has never been a more urgent need to implement up-to-date e-learning on hygiene in health and social care organisations.