I have noticed several questions related to staff education on the AHE Listserve and other social media applications recently. I find it heartening that environmental services (ES) professionals are so interested in keeping staff abreast of industry changes. In addition to providing excellent education, it is important for leaders to cultivate the leadership, development and advancement of their staff.

Training is not only a requirement for certain topics by regulatory agencies, including the Joint Commission, it is the right thing to do. Time is a valuable resource in our health care institutions. However, the aspect of training needs to permeate the ES department. This can be performed through standard monthly departmental meetings, daily briefing, specialized training sessions, one-on-one training and various other avenues. Some ES managers set up a patient or resident room to train staff on a continual basis on daily and terminal cleaning.

Training topics are varied, but can involve magnetic resonance imaging safety, customer service, hand hygiene and infection prevention, patient confidentiality, personal protective equipment, environment of care, pharmaceutical waste, regulated medical waste, ergonomics, human resources, equipment care, preventive maintenance and many other topics.

In addition to the training offered by an ES department, most distributors have training and in-service literature readily available for facilities. Some vendors will conduct training at a facility. When securing new products from vendors, ES managers can make training a condition of the purchase. Many health care product distributors also are expanding into the training arena as a value-added service.

To further supplement ES training, AHE has several training DVDs on a variety of topics. The "From Top To Bottom: The Environmental Services Series," in particular, has been well-received. Another avenue where AHE provides valuable training is from the annual conference, now called EXCHANGE. The educational sessions are recorded, and the course materials are provided with the lecture.

When talking about training, you cannot forget competencies. Some of the regulatory items will have short tests to provide evidence that the employee is competent. I believe that we need to go beyond the annual competency and require ES competency for each staff member. How can we prove that our staff members are competent in their daily work without competency assessments? Employees can demonstrate competencies through written or practical assessments.

To ensure the highest quality care for the health care environment, educate staff continually, make sure they are competent in their daily responsibilities, and improve employee satisfaction. This will lead to greater satisfaction with the ES department's standard of excellence.

This month's column was written by Kent L. Miller, MHL, CHESP, president of AHE's board of directors.


Valuable resources available

AHE offers a comprehensive educational and professional development program that engages all levels of health care experience.

  • Webinar — HAI Prevention: The New Rules of Engagement. This program will explore the keys to a successful team response to health care-associated infection prevention, and evaluate bundle elements for environmental infection control. The event, which is free for AHE members and $139 for nonmembers, will be on Aug. 15 at 1 p.m. CST.
  • Conference — EXCHANGE 2012, AHE Annual Conference & Healthcare Marketplace. This will be Sept. 1619 at the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel and Phoenix Convention Center.

For more information on either of these events, please visit AHE's website at www.AHE.org.

ES & Housekeeping Week

National Healthcare Environmental Services and Housekeeping Week is Sept. 915 and offers environmental services (ES) managers the opportunity to demonstrate the importance of ES and housekeeping staff. AHE urges ES managers to show support for their profession, staff, colleagues and friends with official "Quality. Safety. Satisfaction." commemorative products.

They can be purchased at www.jimcolemanltd.com/esweek.