By Jim Flieler
While the global population continues to age, the healthcare market will continue to grow. As indicated in the 2019 Report on the Building Services Contractor Market, healthcare remains a strong area for growth in the BSC sector. If your BSC is in the healthcare space, have you considered expanding into even more facilities within the sector? If you are not yet servicing this growing market, have you considered what it will take to begin a specialization in the healthcare market?
If you’re thinking healthcare is just for in-house hospital teams, then think again. There are many different types of facilities that fall within the healthcare category, and more of them are being opened every day. Many of these types of facilities are referred to as non-acute care facilities and include surgery centers, physician clinics and long-term care.
Of course, cleaning in the healthcare market means your BSC is paying attention to healthcare laws and regulations and strict compliance recommendations. Once your staff has been trained in the rules and regulations that govern the healthcare market, what’s next?
Even outside of the traditional hospital setting, the prevention of the spread of HAIs (healthcare acquired infections) must be your no. 1 priority at any healthcare facility. And it has been shown time and time again that the no. 1 key to preventing the spread of HAIs is training. Here are three of the most important elements to any training program for staff at a healthcare facility:
The Science of Disinfection
Finding the right disinfectant for the job is vital for any healthcare cleaning team. You’ve likely looked at surface compatibility, active ingredients, kill claims and the procedures that must be followed to achieve them, and more in your search for the optimal product. However, if you do not train your staff on the need for a specific disinfection process, then your product will be rendered useless.
All of the members of your team who will be responsible for cleaning in a healthcare facility must be trained on the proper disinfection procedures not only as dictated by governing laws, but also as dictated by your product SDS (Safety Data Sheet). Your distributor, and often the manufacturer of your disinfectants, will have resources available to help you develop a training program that properly educates your staff on disinfection and infection prevention.
A few topics you will want to make sure to include in any training program at a healthcare institution will include:
- Understanding the difference between cleaning and disinfection
- The science behind your disinfectant (i.e. what is the active ingredient and how does it work)
- The nature of HAIs (healthcare acquired infections) and which microbes your team is targeting
- The importance of wiping down surfaces prior to disinfection
- Dwell time
- Additional procedures such as color coding, dilution and storage
Focus on Retention
Not only must your training program specifically be designed for the healthcare setting, touching on the proper disinfecting products and procedures, but it must also focus on retention. One commonly cited number in our industry is 90 days. That’s the amount of time it takes for a trained employee to begin to forget what he or she learned in your training course.
Re-certification and a philosophy of continued improvement when it comes to training is absolutely essential if you are to ensure that your team continues to adhere to the processes they were trained on. In all settings, and particularly the fast-paced healthcare environment, time becomes a huge concern for our cleaning teams. When the pressure to turn over a room or prepare a space for a procedure, comes from outside sources, there is a temptation to cut corners. Re-training every few months with brief online courses, half-day seminars, check-in quizzes and re-certification opportunities will allow you to ensure your team never resorts to bad habits.
Floor Care Matters
As in all facilities, the floor makes a strong first impression. Your attention on the floors in your healthcare facilities should be on prevention, including extensive preventive matting, daily dust mopping, and routine floor care that keeps floors in their best condition to assure patients and their families that cleanliness is paramount. At a healthcare facility, disinfection of the floors always becomes an added concern that requires thorough care. One of the best-kept secrets to disinfecting a floor? Preventive maintenance.
Before you even consider your disinfection tools and procedures, you’ll want to pay extra attention to dust removal. Dust and debris that is present on a floor will interfere with the efficacy of your disinfecting product. We recommend a wet/dry vacuum with a filtration system in the most critical areas of your healthcare setting. In other areas, a chemically treated disposable dust mop head will be sufficient. Sweeping with a broom is not recommended in floor care settings in healthcare facilities because of the concerns of airborne transfer of pathogens.
Automatic scrubbers will be the best bet for disinfecting your floors. Even when using this piece of equipment, it is important to pay attention to dwell times to ensure that the disinfectant has enough time to kill all microorganisms. Sometimes, we recommend scrubbing the area two times to ensure that dwell times are met. You’ll want to pay extra close attention to equipment maintenance, disinfecting the machine and ant pads used to ensure that you do not transfer microbes via your own disinfection tools.
BSCs are poised for incredible growth in 2020 and beyond, and as you expand into new markets like non-acute healthcare facilities, it is important to make sure your training program grows along with your services.