First of all, opening steps are known by a number of differing names such as pre-steps, opening procedures and beginning steps. The opening steps are the specific sequence of actions a nursing assistant takes prior to starting a direct care procedural skill. The closing steps, which are also called post-steps, closing procedures and ending steps, are the actions a nursing assistant takes to end the skill.
The opening and closing steps are regarded as indirect care skills. While direct care focuses on the correct performance of patient care procedures, the indirect care skills revolve around maintaining the safety, cleanliness and comfort of the patient care environment. Indirect care skills are defined as a series of steps to promote "patients’ safety and protection, infection control, communication, and the ability to meet needs and comfort" (Stone Academy, 2020). After all, it does not matter that the nursing assistant correctly gave a bed bath if she left the patient's door wide open and used contaminated supplies throughout the process.
Both the opening and the closing steps place a heavy emphasis on hand hygiene since the dirty hands of a nursing assistant might potentially contaminate the patient's clean supplies, resulting in a preventable healthcare-acquired infection. Also called nosocomial infections, healthcare-acquired infections are ones that patients contract while being treated. Healthcare-acquired infections occur in all care settings, "including hospitals, surgical centers, ambulatory clinics, and long-term care facilities such as nursing homes and rehabilitation facilities" (PatientCareLink, 2020).
Infections can lead to poor outcomes such as disease, amputation and death in susceptible patients, so nursing assistants must adhere to infection prevention practices on a routine basis. When performing opening steps, one of the indirect care skills is to wash the hands prior to gathering clean supplies. Moreover, when performing the closing steps, the nursing assistant is required to perform hand hygiene. This is because proper hand hygiene is the single most effective action a nursing assistant can take to stop the spread of infectious microbes.
Thus, the opening and closing steps are important because they incorporate all of the aspects that improve patients' outcomes and experiences such as infection prevention, communication, ethical principles, safety and comfort. In addition, nursing assistants must display proficiency in performing the opening and closing steps in order to obtain a passing result on the skills evaluation section of most CNA certifying examinations in many states.