Office Depot assesses the effects of the BSI healthcare cleaning standard a year after its inception and considers the best cleaning methods for such critical areas.
Naturally, the highest standards of cleanliness are essential for all healthcare environments. When the official guidelines were updated last year, they provided facilities managers (FMs) with an ideal way of benchmarking performance while offering the perfect means of establishing if you are adhering to these new rules.
The continuous assessment of cleaning practices should automatically form part of your policy when you’re aiming to match high quality levels of cleanliness on a consistent basis. As this new standard has been in place for over a year now, there is an even more pressing requirement to make sure that the right processes are being carried out and monitored on a regular basis.
People operating in the healthcare arena will inevitably approve of any cleaning regime that results in hygienic facilities. And while the risk of infection and the dangers to patients are primary concerns, it is also true that the confidence of patients, visitors and even staff can also be negatively influenced by the perception of low standards of cleanliness.
With this in mind, there is even greater motivation to achieve ongoing improvements in cleanliness and maintain the very best practice when it comes to hygiene and healthcare.
Make sure you define responsibilities and agree objectives
It’s always simpler to define roles and communicate objectives when you have clearly determined cleaning roles. Ideally, FMs as well as external teams need to encourage cleaning operatives to take individual responsibility. Instead of focusing solely on their own activities, they need to develop a comprehensive approach and quickly highlight any specific problems or issues as they arise.
This is always a simpler process when there is one clear point of contact and it is recognised that all issues will be addressed swiftly and effectively. However, this does require a suitable method of documenting the process from initial report to final resolution.
Applying risk assessments for healthier environments
Risk levels vary across healthcare facilities with different areas having varying degrees of risk associated with the potential transfer of infections to and from other parts of the facility. The NHS standards respond to this by establishing the need to determine ‘high’ and ‘very high’ risk areas. These risk areas are defined by the likelihood of individuals becoming infected as a direct consequence of low standards of cleanliness.
‘Patient zones’ or those areas where specific clinical activities occur are obviously a priority when it comes to cleanliness, but FMs need to remember that there is an equal requirement to prevent infections from being transmitted between areas as well as within one particular zone. That’s why it’s essential to modify cleaning procedures for ‘high’ and ‘very high’ risk areas while any connecting regions, such as corridors and doorways, must also be rigorously cleansed to support overall sanitisation.
It is a serious mistake to think that only the clinical zones need such levels of sanitisation as this leaves patients, staff and visitors highly vulnerable to infections. Your choice of cleaning products has a particular role to play in all types of clinical zones and connecting areas. While more specialised cleaning products might well be required in clinical zones, it’s also important to support that degree of cleanliness across the whole environment by applying multi-purpose cleaners.
Monitoring your performance is a constant requirement
There is no point in putting a fresh cleaning plan into place if you don’t audit your performance on a regular basis to spot and correct any issues or problems. Success largely depends on having an effective team working closely together with a common objective of improved cleanliness. The people making up that team have to view issue reporting as a practical method of raising standards for the good of everyone.
And it’s not just the reporting of issues as if there is not the means for concerns to be resolved quickly, those issues will simply not be addressed in timely fashion. An internal FM team has a valuable role here – even when supervising third party cleaners – by creating clear ways of reporting and responding effectively.
The role of suppliers in ensuring the highest health standards
Suppliers of cleaning & hygiene products and services can support the healthcare standards by making sure they have a clear knowledge of the healthcare industry’s requirements. To achieve this level of understanding, they need to engage with the purchasing decision makers and key managers within clinical facilities.
By accommodating the minor variations in needs for each facility and applying their expert knowledge of health and hygiene, suppliers can tailor suitable solutions for individual customers that combine professional standards with high quality service.
Healthcare hygiene and cleanliness are critical concerns with life-threatening consequences if the right standards are not maintained at the required level. Because of the profound importance of such sanitisation, it is the responsibility of suppliers to act as strategic business partners and not just as product suppliers.
Those vendors who continuously work to comprehend the activities and functions of medical facilities or trusts and use their expertise to match their products and services in support of the best healthcare provision, are inevitably going to be the ideal partners for any healthcare related business.