Steve Nurdin, marketing manager at Cannon Hygiene, explains how an effective hygiene strategy can help care homes providers achieve positive customer feedback and attract new business.
The UK social care system is facing a crisis and care homes will be hit the hardest. Spending cuts and unsustainably low budgets – on average £620 a week – have led to care home providers not being able to cover day-to-day costs, according to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). The Guardian also recently reported that social care spending has decreased by £7bn since 2010 and English councils plan to push through another £700m in social care cuts by the end of 2019.
Care homes increasingly rely on the ability to attract and retain business to survive as a result. Clients expect nothing but excellence from care facility providers and poor high hygiene conditions are usually the main area for complaints and negative customer perceptions.
But faced with decreasing budgets many care home owners face staff shortages and cleaning tasks often slip to the bottom of priority lists. Especially with cold and flu season just around the corner, excellent hygiene is crucial to avoid falling below standards and facing mounting customer complaints.
Infections such as the common cold and flu are highly contagious and can spread like wildfire through any facility if no precautions are taken. The best defence is introducing a consistent hygiene strategy which can work in the background and take the pressure off already busy staff.
Good hand hygiene is the single most important factor which can help prevent a seasonal outbreak of viruses. Hands are responsible for the spread of 80 per cent of infectious diseases and effective hand hygiene is one of the best and most cost-effective ways to kill bacteria before it can spread. Automatic hand sanitiser dispensers should be provided in key areas such as communal spaces and near entrances and exits. In washrooms – if en-suite or shared - proper hand-washing facilities are vital. No-touch solutions, such as automatic taps, soap dispensers and hand driers, can reduce the transfer of germs from the washroom into the wider care home, while also saving staff resources.
Airborne germs are some of the easiest to transmit but hardest to prevent. While it is common practice, many people do not cover their mouth when sneezing or coughing. This can quickly spread bacteria between care home residents. The good news is that recent advances in technology means care home operators can now manage indoor air quality effectively and automatically. Air filters can kill bacteria, neutralise pollen and dust and fragrance the air to keep premises smell fresh throughout the day.
The key to success lies in the detail, and special attention should be paid to areas where dirt and bacteria can settle and collect unnoticed. Vacuuming doormats may seem sufficient as the surface appears clean, but it only removes the top 10 per cent of the dirt, for example. Instead, they should be professionally laundered on a regular basis.
Equally as important are door handles as bacteria can spread through hand to surface touch within hours throughout an entire building. In fact, a study conducted by The University of Arizona found that traces of a harmless virus placed on a door handle spread to half of the surfaces in the same building within just four hours. To tackle this issue there are solutions available that automatically spray an antibacterial mist on door grips and effectively neutralise bacteria.
Managers should identify germ hotspots and develop a consistent hygiene strategy that can work in the background without much assistance. Automatic no-touch solutions will provide peace of mind for care home providers that an effective hygiene strategy is in place to protect residents and save resources.