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The new BSI healthcare cleaning standard – 18 months on

10 June 2016

Nigel Crunden, business specialist at Office Depot, looks at the importance of meeting the latest cleaning guidelines in healthcare facilities

Evaluating current cleaning processes should already be part and parcel of a mindset that seeks to consistently meet high standards. However, the fact that the British Standards Institution (BSI) published a new version of the standard for planning and measuring hospital cleanliness (PAS 5748) a year and a half ago provides even more of a trigger to ensure these checks are in place. 

Clearly defining and communicating outcomes with staff becomes easier where cleaning related roles and responsibilities have been firmly agreed. In doing this, internal FMs or outsourced cleaning teams should look to empower individual operatives to take a unified approach to standards and ensure that they report issues promptly, instead of only focusing on their own personal performance. This becomes easier if there is one central point of contact to highlight issues to and a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to addressing these immediately. This means providing documented evidence of the entire process, from reporting through to resolution. 

Assessing risk 

The level of risk naturally varies throughout a healthcare facility in terms of the increased likelihood of infections being transferred and carried to another area of the building. Official NHS guidelines clearly reflect this by outlining the need to identify high and very high risk areas, defined by the probability of a patient contracting an infection as a direct result of low cleanliness standards. 

Parts of the building where clinical activity takes place – or ‘patient zones’ – are clearly a priority here, but FMs should not forget the need to prevent the transfer of infection from one area to another, as well as within a zone itself. It is therefore important to adapt local cleaning regimes for high and very high risk zones. Of course, connecting areas should also be comprehensively sanitised to underpin wider efforts. Taking the attitude that only clinical areas need addressing is dangerous. As well as undoing good intentions, it directly risks the well-being of patients, visitors and staff. This is where product choice can play a key role. Although there may be the need for more specialist cleaning products in clinical areas, backing this up by using a multi-purpose cleaner throughout an entire facility provides an extra safeguard. 

Review, review, review

It is pointless implementing a comprehensive cleaning regime if it is not regularly audited to identify and address any issues or anomalies. As mentioned earlier, achieving this requires a team of operatives to work in a cohesive and responsible fashion, where the reporting of issues is seen as a tool for improving standards for the benefit of all.

The responsible reporting of issues is only half the battle. If there is not a firm and responsive facility for quickly addressing concerns, the risk of not taking prompt action increases. This is where an internal FM team can come into its own – even if they are managing an outsourced team of operatives. By implementing a clear pathway of reporting, action and evidence, they fulfil their direct responsibility in this area.  

Supplier input

To meet the recent regulations, vendors in the healthcare sector should constantly look to challenge their approach. The most efficient way for a supplier to manage this is to ensure they have a deep understanding of the business’ needs, by speaking to decision makers and managers from a facility or individual departments or sites. By realising the small differences in requirements for each site and utilising industry expertise in hygiene and health and safety, suppliers can put together tailored packages for each customer that demonstrates their commitment to quality and professional standards. 

Within the healthcare sector especially, where the existence of germs and bacteria can cause serious illnesses, it is vital that vendors step up to the role of business partner. This means that they should provide advice and consultation to healthcare clients over and above the mere provision of products. Those that match their expertise to the exact needs of a particular facility or customer, are best suited to servicing the sector in the long-term.  

Meeting the requirements of official standards and guidelines should therefore be an ongoing priority for healthcare FMs to ensure that standards are not only being met, but exceeded.