'Family members screaming for help makes it very difficult to don PPE'. A qualitative study on UK ambulance staff experiences of infection prevention and control practices during the COVID-19 pandemic

Peter Eaton-Williams, Julia Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

BACKGROUND: During the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK, ambulance staff continued to deliver direct patient care whilst simultaneously adapting to a considerable escalation in evolving infection prevention and control (IPC) practices.

AIM: To enable learning to benefit future planning, this qualitative article aims to describe ambulance staff's experiences of this rapid escalation of IPC practices.

METHOD: Three online surveys were presented during the acceleration, peak, and deceleration phases of the pandemic's first wave in the UK (2020). Overall, 18 questions contributed 14,237 free text responses that were examined using inductive thematic analysis at both descriptive and interpretive levels.

FINDINGS: Many participants lacked confidence in policies related to the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) because of perceived inadequate supporting evidence, confusing communication, and low familiarity with items. Compliance with policy and confidence in PPE use were further influenced by discomfort, urgency, and perceptions of risk. Various suggestions were made to improve IPC practices within the work environment, including reducing unnecessary exposure through public education and remote triage improvements.

DISCUSSION: Some participants' poor experiences of escalating IPC practices were shared with health care workers studied in other environments and in previous epidemics, emphasising the need for lessons to be learnt. PPE should be developed with consideration of ambulance staff's unique working environment and regular familiarisation training could be beneficial. Pragmatic, evidence-based, clearly communicated policies implemented with sufficient resources may protect staff and facilitate them to maintain standards of care delivery during a pandemic.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-23
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Infection Prevention
Volume25
Issue number1-2
Early online date8 Jan 2024
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2024

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • qualitative
  • infection prevention and control
  • survey
  • ambulance
  • personal protective equipment

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of ''Family members screaming for help makes it very difficult to don PPE'. A qualitative study on UK ambulance staff experiences of infection prevention and control practices during the COVID-19 pandemic'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this