Infection control shake-up!

RVN Lindsay Radcliffe, who works at Moor Cottage Veterinary Hospital in Berkshire, completed our Practical Infection Control course with the aim to review standards in infection control within her practice, and make improvements and adaption as necessary.

We thought it would be useful to our readers for Lindsay to share some of her experiences, as this is a task that is given to many a vet nurse or practice manager, often with little experience in creating and implementing infection control SOPs.

So how did Lindsay go about it, and how did she get on?

Do we need to review infection control?

I’ll be honest, my original reason for enrolling on the ONCORE infection control course was because I needed the CPD hours and it was something I could easily do at home around everything else.

Initially I went into the course thinking our practice didn’t really need improvements and that we were pretty up to speed on our infection control, but I soon realised this wasn’t the case!

Where to start!?

Following the course, and having a mind full of inspiration and a notebook of ideas for improvements in our practice, I decided I wanted to put them to use, so I approached my practice manager for help.

We decided we would start off by writing a list of ten things I would like to change and also that I would present my ideas and what I have learnt to the other nurses.

Where next?

But where to start with my jumble sale like thoughts? I decided to organise my ideas for improvements  into categories of the different areas of the practice, and the key areas we looked at were:

  • Reception
  • Consult rooms
  • Hospital
  • Barrier nursing/isolation
  • Theatre

I listed anything and everything I could think of to do with that area that I had learned from the course and points I wanted to raise with my colleagues.

Presentation to the team

In order to start a discussion with the team, and to get across the massive amount of information I had taken from the course, I decided a presentation would be the best approach. I started my presentation by giving reasons for why we should be controlling infection, what our goals should be to make this achievable, and my suggested improvements for our practice, in each of the categories.


It was really good to see that rather than just a presentation from me to my colleagues, my enthusiasm inspired my colleagues, and it turned into a really interesting discussion – and we started talking about and planning future infection control as a team at this meeting.


To promote compliance, we decided we would start our improvements  by initially only making five changes. Implementing too many changes at once can overwhelm the team, causing poor compliance and making people feel as though they have failed.

The five changes included: 

1. Hand hygiene

Improving hand hygiene for all team members, by increasing the use of disposable gloves and washing hands between each patient. We learnt a lot about hand hygiene on the course, and I was able to put this learning into our protocol.

2. Using my protocol created for the course

For the coursework for the ONCORE course, everyone is required to complete one SOP for practice (which they receive feedback on from the tutor). I used a kennel cleaning protocol, and this is now displayed on the hospital wall

3. Introducing a biosecurity protocol – tier system

Biosecurity tier systems is something that the course tutor Louise O’Dwyer is really keen to get across, so this was looked at as one of the fundamental principles during the course, and being aware of different patient biosecurity risks is once of the first steps in promoting patient (and human) safety. During our team discussion we discovered there were a lot of avenues to explore on this subject, so we decided to start by categorising each hospitalised patient under the tier system, and use coloured cards to identify them.

4. Dog leads!

We decided to put aside a lead per canine patient, and this lead is to be washed when the patient has been discharged. It’s easy to forget simple steps like this, which may inadvertently present significant infection risks to patients.

5. Basic practice audit

We carried out a Bella Moss practice audit to see if there are any more areas to be worked on. This audit provides a useful simple first step in evaluating your practice’s weak areas.

How are things going?

Having managed to get everyone a little more interested in keeping our practice lovely and infection free, we are so far managing to ensure we all meet our improvements and are planning to review what we have achieved at our next nurse meeting, when we may introduce some more.

I have since been made responsible for our isolation unit, where I have plans to eventually introduce more improvements.

Thoughts on the course?

The course is based on discussion forums and people posting their current protocols, ideas and links to articles, and using this to inspire your own research to write your own infection control protocol.

 “At first I thought I was going to struggle with this form of learning but it was actually so much better than struggling to keep my eyes open in front of a long lecture in a stuffy room!”

I found it really easy to get stuck into and was surprised at how easily I managed to contribute to the discussions with my own thoughts and ideas.

When It came to writing my protocol, at first I wasn’t sure what I was going to write about but after a few days on the forums, the subject came to me quite quickly.

“It had been a while since writing something in this format, but again, I was surprised at how easily it all came flooding back to me and I was quickly submerged in my writing.”

Jill at ONCORE has been very supportive since I completed this course, helping me with my presentation and implementation of ideas, and she is genuinely interested in our future infection control.

This course has been a real eye opener and this style of CPD works really well for me. I will definitely be enrolling in a future course.

More information?

More information on the Practical Infection Control course can be found here.

The course is tutor led by RVN Emma Gerrard, and successful completion offers 8 hours CPD.

The course is also accredited by AMTRA for 32 SQP points.

You will come away from the course with a wealth of new knowledge, plus a useful first SOP tailored to your own needs and ready to take back to your practice.