Chrissie Rowlinson, product marketing manager at Cannon Hygiene, discusses why care homes need to keep hygiene front-of-mind during renovation works and the strategies to do so.
Because care homes often have to remain fully operational during refurbishment projects thereby creating a “live” environment for contractors, there can be unavoidable disruptions to some residents and staff. However, hygiene should never slip and it’s vital that strategies are in place to minimise health and safety risks.
Care homes, by their nature, face higher levels of wear-and-tear than most buildings. Round-the-clock staffing and 24/7 use by residents mean that homes can quickly look tired. As a result, refurbishment and maintenance programmes are far more frequent than those of other healthcare sector buildings and often homes will have refresh works operating on five-year cycles.
Ahead of contractors arriving on site, care homes need to educate them. It’s important to remember that, while hygiene will be second nature to care staff, many contractors will be less aware of its impact on health and safety and won’t, as a result, have the same habits. Providing antibacterial hand gels around the site, instructions on the correct way to wash and dry hands and making sure all washroom facilities are fit-for-purpose – a recommended practice for everyone in a care home – will help reduce the spread of germs.
An added influx of people passing through the building brings in more dirt and bacteria from the outside world, as well as generating more dust as a result of the works themselves. This can make a home look unclean, which can cause concern among residents and prospective customers selecting a care facility. Dust can also be very dangerous for anyone with respitatory problems. Every effort should be made to control it. For example, aircare products are available that can clean the air and remove allergens that may trigger breathing difficulties in vulnerable residents.
Care providers need to make sure all doormats are regularly laundered. Vacuuming only removes 10 per cent of dirt and mats can quickly become ineffective due to the increased people traffic. Coupled with this it’s important to ask all staff to be extra vigiliant when it comes to their own hygiene and cleaning routines. Cleaning staff in particular should focus on vents, ledges, carpets and upholstery. Often these areas accumulate unseen dust.
Standard cleaning practices also need increase in frequency whilst works are going on. It’s vital that communal areas and kitchen facilities are kept clean given how frequently they are used by residents and that food is prepared there.
Ahead of works starting, care homes need to have a robust hygiene strategy in place. Simply thinking about the effects of having an influx of people in a building, how to minimise dust and dirt, and the core areas to focus on will help care facilities minimise risk.