The functions of a Dental Infection Control Lead
Dental decontamination requirements
The function of the DICL is to ensure that the standards of decontamination activities in general dental practice and salaried dental services adequately protect patients, dental professionals and the public in general. The Department of Health has produced specific guidance in relation to decontamination and infection control. More recently the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has incorporated HTM 01-05 in a much wider context. The documentation relating to both of these sets a basis for the standard and quality of care. The documentation lists requirements for dental practices as well as best practice measures which in an ideal world should be incorporated by all dental practices. Furthermore, the General Dental Council (GDC) publication ‘Maintaining Standards’ clearly states that ‘Failure to employ adequate methods of infection control, would almost certainly render a clinician liable to a charge of serious misconduct’.
HTM 01-05: Decontamination in Primary Care Dental Practices
HTM 01-05 has been produced to reflect a commitment to improving standards in dental practices by employing safe standards of infection control. Surveys undertaken in Scotland and England have produced evidence around the effectiveness of decontamination in primary care dental practices, which identified that decontamination standards were not always being met satisfactorily.
Each practice is required to employ strategies for decontamination and infection control and to allocate responsibilities within their team, to ensure these strategies are consistently and effectively carried out. Those duty bound by HTM 01-05 and the Care Quality Commission are required to appoint a named Decontamination and Infection Control Lead. This should be employed as part of ‘good practice’ in ALL dental practices. The Decontamination and Infection Control Lead (DICL) must:
- Develop and communicate policies and procedures to comply with current regulations.
- Create clearly defined decontamination and sterilisation areas.
- Employ effective decontamination procedures by implementing the use of washer / disinfectors where possible.
- Develop a team ethos in reaching and maintaining high standards of decontamination and infection control.
- Carry out quarterly audits (six months in England only) of the decontamination process, with an appropriate review dependent on audit outcomes.
- Record activities.
Decontamination roles within the dental practice
- Registered manager has overall responsibility for decontamination equipment and staff appointments within the practice. It is likely to be the practice owner but could be the NHS contractor.
- Decontamination and Infection Control Lead has responsibility for infection control and decontamination; relevant experience and authority are therefore essential. It could be an employee of the practice or be part of a service provided.
- Designated person provides the interface between the practice and external services (e.g., service engineers). It could be the practice manager or the DICL.
- User has day-to-day responsibility for the management of the decontamination equipment and processes and for ensuring that those operating and testing decontamination processes are suitably trained and competent. This role can be combined with another of the internal appointments as the responsibilities may overlap.
- Operator carries out the daily and weekly periodic tests and operates the decontamination equipment.
The role of Decontamination and Infection Control Lead (DICL)
This role is crucial for all dental practices and specifically those practices working within the compliance of Care Quality Commission (CQC) and decontamination regulations and guidelines. Initially the DICL must be fully conversant with local and national guidelines and have a working knowledge of how to translate these into clear and well communicated policies and procedures. They must be aware of specific regulations applicable in England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and Eire.
The DICL has a responsibility to ensure that each person in their team is trained and able to meet the required standards. Fundamentally the DICL is a point of reference for dental team members to address any questions or concerns about decontamination techniques and requirements; they will act as a decontamination advisor and coach. On a day-to-day basis, they are required to supervise decontamination activities. This requires them to measure the performance of each team member against pre-set benchmarks established to define good practice.
An effective DICL will be able to foster a team approach and create a framework for the ongoing development of policies and procedures in line with the translation of new research findings. They will be able to develop and enhance new skills sets within the team if required. Enthusiasm for continual professional development (CPD) is an important requirement to fulfil the DICL role; they need to be proactive in seeking out new information, which then needs to be relayed to their teams. Those holding this post should seek to motivate their team by employing effective training strategies and meaningful learning.
The Dental Business Academy run an online Level 3 Advanced Certificate in Decontamination and Infection Control Lead course. It is for any dental professional who has been allocated the responsibility for the development and maintenance of decontamination and infection control measures, or who may be in this role in the future. The course has been written by Janet Goodwin and Andy Toy, using their many years of practice and academic experience in the world of dentistry.
The Level 3 Advanced Certificate is designed to help you make a difference from day one, with assignments based on your own practice. It also allows you to ‘earn while you learn’, without taking precious time away from the practice. Here’s some of our recent feedback:
“I have recently completed the online Level 3 Decontamination and Infection Control course provided by The Dental Business Academy. I have found the whole course very easy to follow as I was able to complete it at my own pace. There is also lots of help provided from your online tutor who I found was amazing. She generally got back to me within 24 hours if I had any questions or queries. I would definitely recommend this course to anyone who is keen to become a decontamination and infection control lead as it has helped me to gain such valuable information that I will be able to use on a daily basis throughout the rest of my career”. - Emily Reeve
Go to our ‘Dental Courses’ page or email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more. Members of ADAM receive a generous 30% discount on the cost of completing the course.