Working together to ensure compliance
12 August 2015
One of the biggest challenges for facilities management partners providing cleaning services across different hospitals is to control the risk of infection throughout patient care, whilst also managing the different requirements and procedures expected by each client. Sodexo's cleaning taskforce explains how it tackles these issues
More than ever before cleaning service providers are being scrutinised as frequent outbreaks of Hospital Acquired Infections (HAIs) have made the news across Europe. The issue of cleanliness and hygiene is very much in the spotlight and the requirement for strict hygiene regulations and practices is paramount for all facilities management and cleaning services providers.
At Sodexo, employees work across many different sites and embrace the challenge of working with individual clients. It is imperative they work to understand client needs and be able to adapt existing policies in order to consistently achieve maximum standards.
NHS trusts in the UK are governed by national standards and there has been a steady increase in scope and scrutiny of these standards since 2004. The national standard provides a comparative framework within which hospitals and healthcare trusts in the UK can set out their strategies for providing cleaning services and assessing technical cleanliness. Cleaning service providers must work closely with hospitals to ensure compliance.
Thanks to many publicity campaigns there is now much greater public awareness of the risk of infection which equates to not only hospitals needing to of course be hygienically clean, but also being able to demonstrate how and to what standard they are kept clean. In line with this, patient/public areas within hospitals and clinics now supply many more materials for infection control such as bacterial soaps and wipes. For example nursing staff are required to carry out infection control audits on a monthly basis and provide feedback to senior medical staff to ensure the maintenance of the highest standards.
Infection control training
At Sodexo, cleaning staff are extensively trained in infection prevention and control, working with cleaning managers and the hospital infection control training teams and are required to attend a refresher course every six months. One programme implemented by Sodexo at each of the sites it works with, is the Infection Control Passport; all staff are obligated to carry a passport, which expires after one year of issue and that identifies when they need to take an infection control exam to renew their passport for the year ahead. This forms part of a structured and comprehensive training program, which is a key component of Sodexo’s cleaning offer for healthcare environments.
Service providers must keep abreast of potential risks and methods by ensuring that all cleaning service managers work closely with infection control personnel. Providers are governed by personnel policies and procedures, which also include staff training.
In terms of cleaning products and processes themselves, using the right products is very important; responsible providers will always strive to use the best equipment and take advantage of the innovative products available. For example, product manufacturers are continuously working to upgrade the effectiveness of microfibre cloths and flat mopping systems and UV-C technology is being used increasingly in healthcare environments, as an addition to the cleaning regime. It is highly effective at penetrating thin-walled germs like viruses and bacteria; as the light alters the genetic structure of the germ causing them to perish.
Only by keeping pace with scientific developments in the creation of new products and techniques; combining a well-thought through strategic approach to the delivery of hygiene services; by being flexible to, and focused on, the individual needs of each healthcare establishment, will facilities managers be able to meet the high standards essential to deliver the UK’s healthcare cleaning and hygiene demands.