People who work in the healthcare industry are involved with providing some type of health service to individuals, be it in work settings such as hospitals and dental offices to birthing centers, out-patient surgery centers, home healthcare and nursing homes.
Having healthcare assistants obtain food safety certificates not only protects the clients from the hazards of foodborne illnesses, but also the workers. In fact, healthcare workers face a number of serious safety and health hazards, including bloodborne pathogens, potential chemical and drug exposures, ergonomic hazards from lifting and repetitive tasks, foodborne illnesses and more.
Health workers get sick or injured too.
According to the healthcare and social assistance industry, more injury and illness cases arise in the healthcare industry than any other private industry sector, with nursing aides, orderlies, and attendants rating the highest. And clinical research has shown that health workers are just as ignorant of certain causes of foodborne illnesses as restaurant workers.
In fact, two primary causes of foodborne illnesses are:
1. Not washing hands or respecting proper hygiene practices
2. Not storing foods and perishable items at proper refrigeration temperatures.
Contaminated food and the mishandling of food by healthcare assistants is one of the high risk factors in working in the healthcare industry. In fact, clinical research has shown that one of the least understood and yet most simple methods of reducing foodborne hazards is by washing our hands. Yet too many people in the food industry don’t practice this simple method seriously enough.
This is why it is critical food handlers in the healthcare industry, which includes any healthcare assistant serving food or handling food in any way (including the eating of their own lunches while at work) obtain a food safety certificate.
The various duties and responsibilities of a healthcare assistant can include:
• Helping patients to shower or wash their bodies
• Serving and administering food
• Making and changing beds
• Keeping patients company
• Helping patients move around
• Keeping patients room or home clean
• Recording patients vital signs
While some jobs as healthcare assistant require no special qualifications, others need special certification in various fields of focus. However, it is essential that all healthcare assistants receive their food safety certificate from a food safety course, so that they won’t transfer foodborne organisms to the patient (and vice versa) while administering aid, ideally one driven by clinical research.
Many people working in the health care industry, including health care assistants, nursing staff, ward staff, community health care workers, unit managers, occupational therapists, and the like, will handle food as part of their duties at one time or another. Regardless of whether they work in the private, public or voluntary sectors, they all need an adequate level of food safety training.
A food safety course will also educate healthcare assistants and should prove they can handle the detection, investigation, control and follow-up of a foodborne outbreak.