Soapbox has recently returned from The Gambia following the pilot of a training manual developed to train cleaning staff in environmental hygiene and the basics of infection prevention. The manual was developed – in collaboration with experts in the field and in consultation with existing national and international guidelines – to address the fact that many countries lack formal training of cleaning staff despite the key role they play in maintaining a safe environment. What makes the manual so important is that there are few, if any, resources for training low literate populations in environmental hygiene and infection prevention. Taking into account the literacy level of cleaning staff, who often have very little education, is critical; training resources that use notes, text-based handbooks, and power points simply would not work.
Following its development the next stage was to pilot the manual. We collaborated with one of our partner organisations, Horizons Gambia, and enlisted the services of consultant Research Midwife, Dr Beverly Donaldson, to facilitate the pilot in The Gambia. Horizons further secured a partnership with the Ministry of Health’s Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) Task Group, part of the Epidemiology & Disease Control Unit (EDC), who led the adaptation of the manual to the local country context.
The manual was adapted with input from the IPC Task Group, Horizons and Dr Donaldson, and hands-on, practical workshops were developed for ‘training the trainers’ and training of cleaning staff. ‘Clean Boxes’ were developed, one for each of the seven selected modules including modules on hand hygiene and cleaning of the environment. The Boxes contained all the instructions and practical resources required for module delivery, cleaning guidelines were developed for the facilities which previously had none, along with resources to be used for monitoring and evaluation of cleaning practices following the training. The next step was to deliver the Training the Trainers workshop.