Protecting residents in care homes from infections is an all-year-round priority but there are additional challenges during winter when there are usually peaks in serious illnesses such as Influenza and Norovirus. These can be life-threatening to residents, many of whom are likely to be frail and vulnerable. Because of this seasonal link, we’re focusing on care homes in our annual “Are You Ready?” campaign.
Infection prevention relies on rigorous hand hygiene and surface disinfection. This helps to break the chain of infection because most illnesses are caused by personal contact or touching a contaminated surface.
Effective surface disinfection is critical. Well-run homes will have a daily cleaning regime that focuses on the areas used by residents and staff to maintain a clean and hygienic environment. The latest thinking by authorities such as the World Health Organisation (WHO) is that additional attention should be paid to frequent-touch surfaces. In care homes, these might include light switches, door handles, table-tops, bed rails, remote controls and similar devices, telephones and touch-screens. Additional hand-hygiene frequency among staff is also recommended – such as when moving from task to task or resident to resident – to achieve the highest levels of protection.
Many care homes use traditional cleaners and disinfectants containing chlorine or “quats” as their active ingredient. Used correctly these will be effective at removing the common pathogens and microbes that cause illnesses but they can be complicated to use in care homes. Separate products may be required for the cleaning and the disinfection (and to eliminate different types of pathogen) and not all can be used easily on the variety of surfaces likely to be found in the care home.
Products containing chlorine are also suspected of aggravating asthma and other respiratory problems and forming chlorine compounds in the atmosphere. This can create an unpleasant environment for residents at best but for the frail, it can aggravate underlying health conditions and lead to additional suffering.
Given the ongoing requirement for cleaning and disinfection, there are good reasons for using a single combined product for both tasks. This way, disinfection automatically takes place whenever any cleaning task is undertaken. It becomes an ongoing process that is completely embedded within the care home’s daily routine. That can raise standards and compliance rates with a resultant reduction in infections.
In the past, it was difficult to find a single cleaner-disinfectant formulation that simplified processes, saved time and improved productivity without compromising on any infection prevention capability. This changed when Diversey introduced its Oxivir range of products containing innovative Accelerated Hydrogen Peroxide (AHP) as the active ingredient.
AHP is a patented blend of commonly used, safe ingredients that when combined with low levels of hydrogen peroxide dramatically increase its germicidal potency and cleaning performance. Tested to the latest EN standards, disinfectants containing AHP are highly effective against a wide range of viruses including Influenza and Norovirus as well as spores, yeasts, and fungi. This ability to kill many different types of pathogens is known as “broad-spectrum capability”.
Products containing AHP offer an effective alternative to formulations with chlorine compounds as the active ingredient. They do not contain respiratory irritants. The AHP degrades to oxygen and water alone shortly after use which helps make formulations containing it safer to use on a wider range of surfaces, including fabrics and washroom surfaces. Many AHP-based formulations have no safety classification which means they can be used in a wider range of settings, including care homes, with fewer restrictions. Chlorine-based products, on the other hand, usually carry a hazard symbol.
Products in the Oxivir range include:
Oxivir Excel: a fast-acting cleaner-disinfectant that can replace general surface cleaning products for routine tasks and provide affordable ongoing infection protection. It is effective against viruses such as Influenza and Norovirus in just 30 seconds. It is available as a convenient, ready-to-use, spray or in five-litre containers for simple dilution.
Oxivir Excel Wipes: disposable ready-to-use wipes, convenient for on-the-spot use. These are also ideal for giving portable or high touch items such as remote controls a quick clean.
Oxivir Spill Kit: a ready-to-use kit with everything needed to contain and remove body spillages quickly and easily. Each kit contains a 750ml Oxivir Excel spray, absorbent granules, scoops, bags and all the personal protection equipment (PPE) needed to deal with spillages.
Diversey’s Oxivir range offers care homes the opportunity to replace conventional infection prevention products with safer and more effective alternatives. Our annual “Are You Ready?” campaign aims to provide useful information about how to protect yourself and others from seasonal illnesses such as Norovirus and Influenza.
Growing concerns about the spread of antimicrobial resistance mean that healthcare workers must use every technique and tool at their disposal to protect lives and prevent infections. Despite many pharmaceutical and technical advances, good hand hygiene and surface disinfection remain central to all infection prevention programmes. This is because they are the simplest and most effective way to break the chain of infection.
The discovery of antibiotics in the first half of the last century gave doctors a powerful weapon against common infections for the first time in human history. Simple, often naturally occurring, compounds had the power to destroy many common infections that until that time had been life-threatening and hard to defeat. They saved and transformed countless lives in the following decades.
However, it soon became clear that many of the pathogens so easily treated with antibiotics were beginning to develop immunity. Even the simplest and smallest lifeforms have a tremendous ability to adapt and change to ensure their survival. It’s an arms race. Pathogens develop resistance and scientists and drug companies try to develop new antibiotics. But it’s a battle that is hard to win. It often seems that the microbes are faster at adapting than we are at developing weapons against them. This may explain, in part, why no new class of antibiotics has been introduced in the past three decades.
Many pathogens that were easily killed by the commonest – and least expensive – antibiotics have developed resistance. This means illnesses and infections that were easy to treat just a few decades ago have become life-threatening once again. According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), about 33,000 people in Europe die each year due to infections caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria. This is almost 2.5 times higher than in 2007. The burden of antibiotic-resistant infections is almost as great as the total risk of influenza, tuberculosis and HIV.
The World Health Organisation says that antimicrobial resistance “is no longer a prediction for the future, it is happening right now in every region of the world and has the potential to affect anyone, of any age, in any country…[and is] is a major threat to public health.”
Some sources suggest there will be an additional 10 million deaths worldwide over the next 30 years. This will cost £66 trillion in economic output.
Although antibiotics offered – and still do – new ways of killing dangerous pathogens of concern, many conventional infection prevention techniques are just as important today. Hand hygiene in conjunction with new methods of surface disinfection helps to break the chain of infection. It is simple, effective and generally less expensive than alternative approaches and techniques.
The reasons for this are easy to understand. The majority – perhaps up to 80% or four in five – of infections are spread by hand-to-hand contact or touching a contaminated surface. This is why hand hygiene and surface disinfection form the backbone of all infection prevention regimes. People reduce the chances of infection if they keep their hands and surfaces they touch as clean as possible.
This is not to say that “traditional” techniques have not evolved thanks to better research and understanding. The WHO has promoted its “five moments of hand hygiene” for many years. Local initiatives and global awareness campaigns with this simple message are making a big difference to people all over the world.
Studies have shown that simple handwashing with soap and water is more effective than doing nothing at all. The simple mechanical action of washing removes enough pathogens to reduce the risk of infection although there is no disinfection involved. Other studies have shown that concentrating on the fingertips is also more effective than general hand cleansing. This, incidentally, is part of the thinking behind the TMED approach.
Modern hospitals often require a more rigorous and disciplined approach. Hand hygiene formulations used in healthcare must be effective, of course. But they should also support the frequent use called for in initiatives such as the “five moments”. To do this they need to be pleasant to use without causing any damage to delicate skin. At the same time, advances in dispenser design aim to maximise product availability and reduce (or ideally eliminate) the risk of running out. They do this with a range of features including bigger pack sizes, making visual checks easier, emitting warnings when running low, and even allowing remote checks over the Internet.
The latest thinking in the healthcare sector builds on the “five moments” with the Targeted Moments of Environmental Disinfection (TMED). This builds on the simple “five moments” message but instead focuses on the surfaces that people are most likely to touch. As with the “five moments” it is simple to explain and replicate. Together, the “five moments” and TMED offer the prospect of greatly improved infection prevention outcomes with relatively little additional cost or effort.
Other advances have focused on the type of surface disinfectants used in healthcare settings. There is some evidence that conventional disinfectants containing chlorine as their active ingredient can enable antimicrobial resistance because of the way they work at the biological level. Innovative active ingredients containing Accelerated Hydrogen Peroxide kill pathogens in a different way which may mean there is a reduced risk of them becoming resistant.
Products containing AHP are effective against a wider range of pathogens than chlorine-based alternatives. They are simple and easy to use in a wide range of applications. We refer to this as “broad-spectrum” performance. It would need numerous conventional alternatives to achieve the same level of efficacy. This can be complex, time-consuming and expensive.
To be effective, surface disinfection processes must be simple and accessible so that they can be completed whenever needed. They must also be acceptable to healthcare workers and visitors. This means, for example, that disinfectants must be non-hazardous and non-irritating. Finally, processes must be fast because anything that adds time or becomes a burden is less likely to be done.
Healthcare organisations, researchers and solutions providers are making tremendous progress in the ongoing fight against healthcare-associated infections (HAIs). One of the latest approaches is to focus on disinfecting surfaces touched most frequently by staff and patients, rather than trying to clean all surfaces all the time. Known as Targeted Moments of Environmental Disinfection (TMED), its aim is to maximise outcomes with better use of time and resources.
The threat from infections caused by antimicrobial resistance is real and present. The most recently available statistics covering England are for 2018/9. There were 83,000 cases of E. coli, Klebsiella spp., P. aeruginosa, MRSA and MSSA bacteraemia, and clostridium difficile (C.diff). These affected 73,000 patients and resulted in more than 12,700 patient deaths. That’s around one in six or 16 per cent of infection-cases.
The Government has outlined a five-year action plan as part of its wider 20-year vision for tackling antimicrobial resistance. A key target is to reduce drug-resistant infections by 10% by 2025. Other targets include reducing antibiotic use in humans by 15% and reducing gram-negative blood-stream-infections. Stakeholders including hospitals, community health facilities and care homes must act and coordinate their contributions to meet these objectives.
We have covered the link between infection rates, surface disinfection and hand hygiene before. TMED builds on the “five moments of hand hygiene” promoted by the WHO and other agencies with great success over many years.
Studies suggest that somewhere between 20 and 40 per cent of HAIs arise when a healthcare worker passes on pathogens from one patient to the next. Pathogens can remain on frequent touch surfaces and survive for extended periods, sometimes months. Anyone who touches these surfaces can pass the pathogens on to other people. There is a higher risk of acquiring certain pathogens if a room was previously occupied by a colonised or infected patient. All of this helps explain why effective hand hygiene and surface disinfection are important when aiming to prevent infections.
There is a growing realisation that even with high levels of compliance, the tried and tested methodologies can be improved. It is always important to clean surfaces likely to be touched by patients or staff. But people will probably touch some surfaces more than others during the day. Under these circumstances, the idea of once-a-day disinfection could be inadequate and put patients and staff at increased risk. Studies show that nurses, medical staff, clinical and non-clinical staff and visitors touch each bed rail up to 250 times every day.
With TMED the objective is to adopt a more focused approach. All areas are cleaned and disinfected daily, as before. But extra attention is given to frequent touch and high-risk surfaces. In practice, this means cleaning items such as bed rails, table-tops and light switches more often. Going further, studies suggest that additional disinfection at the point of care (where three elements come together: patient, healthcare worker and care or treatment involving contact with the patient or their surroundings) will help reduce infection rates. This means the five most critical moments for disinfection are:
Before placing a food/drink on an over-bed table
After any procedure involving faeces or respiratory secretions within the patient bed space
Before/after any aseptic practice (wounds, lines, etc.)
After patient bathing (within bed space)
After any object used by/on a patient touches the floor
Targeted Moments of Environmental Disinfection aims, in effect, to disinfect on demand. This means cleaning hands and disinfecting surfaces before and after each of these critical moments. Put another way, it is everyone’s job to disinfect, but it is not everyone’s job to disinfect everything every time. To be effective these processes must be simple and accessible so that they can be completed whenever needed. They must also be acceptable to healthcare workers and visitors. This means, for example, that disinfectants must be non-hazardous and non-irritating. Finally, processes must be fast because anything that adds time or becomes a burden is less likely to be done.
Damage to mattresses and stretchers can be a major problem in health care settings. Studies have shown that the damage rate to stretchers, foam mattresses and air loss mattresses could be as high as 46 per cent. In the UK, the national average is estimated at 27 per cent, meaning more than one in four requires mending. This damage can mean that beds are taken out of use until expensive replacements found or time-consuming repairs completed.
Damaged mattresses and stretchers cannot be cleaned properly and could become a risk to patient safety. It is important to catch damage early and restore the surface to an intact and hygienic state in order to preserve performance characteristics and cleanability.
Mattresses can be damaged in a number of ways. Mechanical damage can arise through scraping against walls or door frames, impact with equipment, sharp objects including needles, and improper storage. Chemical damage can be caused by frequent or prolonged exposure to harsh undiluted disinfectants and by inappropriate cleaning and care. General wear and tear also takes a toll.
Diversey’s CleanPatch is a CE-registered Class 1 medical device for repairing damaged mattresses to an intact and hygienic state. It reduces the risk of cross-contamination and enables rapid, simple and effective mending of damaged mattresses in hospitals and care homes to extend their useful lifetime, minimise the need for expensive replacements and maximise bed availability. The patch can also be used to repair stretchers in ambulances and patient transfer vehicles to help crews, preparation teams and Make Ready professionals keep these important vehicles in service.
CleanPatch fulfils these requirements with its simple but effective design. It is made from latex-free, biocompatible materials and has been clinically tested and validated by independent infection prevention professionals. To use, the backing is simply peeled off and the patch applied in the desired position. It then provides a durable barrier which is impervious to fluids under arduous conditions. Moreover, it is resilient to all types of cleaning product which is important because mattresses and stretchers must be cleaned after each use.
Hand hygiene product availability is essential for any infection prevention programme to work properly. It means that people can clean or disinfect their hands whenever they need to in line with agreed procedures and protocols.
Regular checks of product levels in dispensers followed up by quick and simple refills make it easier to maintain product availability. But in even the best organised and executed programmes it is still possible to miss when a dispenser is running low or – even worse still – has run completely out of product. Diversey’s IntelliCare system helps to minimise this risk because a red light flashes on the front of the unit when product levels are running low.
Although there is no substitute for regular checks, these flashing IntelliCare alerts provide an additional safeguard by giving a clear and unambiguous warning that product will soon become unavailable. That should leave those responsible for the dispensers with enough time to respond and replace a soon-to-be-empty pouch before it prevent people from cleaning or disinfecting their hands.
Cleaning and hygiene continue to play a central role in the fight against healthcare associated infections (HAIs). These infections, particularly those caused by multidrug-resistant organisms (MDROs), represent a significant impact on patient morbidity and mortality and increase the financial burden on healthcare systems. Contaminated environmental surfaces have been shown to be an important source for transmission of HAIs, particularly through touch and subsequent personal contact[i].
Effective cleaning and disinfection can decrease environmental pathogens, reducing the risk of infections, but hospital environments are complex, which can often result in cleaning that is inadequate. Suppliers continue to develop innovations that offer healthcare cleaning teams wider choice to implement the most effective solution to meet infection prevention targets.
One of the techniques that is growing in popularity is the use of UV-C disinfection as an adjunct technology to complement and enhance the effectiveness of manual disinfection processes, particularly in hospital settings where HAIs are of major concern.
UV-C has long been proven as an effective technology to reduce contamination and the potential for infection. This short-wavelength ultraviolet light kills or inactivates microorganisms by destroying nucleic acids and disrupting their DNA, leaving them unable to perform vital cellular functions. It can disinfect surfaces quickly and effectively[ii]. Deploying UV-C alongside traditional disinfectants reduced HAIs by 33%.[iii], according to one recent paper. At least 40 scientific studies measure its biocidal effect on micro-organisms or the impact on HAI rates. There is also much less chance of pathogens developing any form of resistance because UV-C disinfection is a physical rather than chemical process.
UV-C provides additional assurance that frequent-touch and hard-to-clean surfaces have been disinfected. It represents a hands-, chemical- and fume-free way to implement safer disinfection. There are many UV-C devices offered in the market with varying designs. The latest developments make the process simpler to utilise and more practical in real-life settings.
Since UV-C disinfection involves light waves, it is important to ensure light sources are parallel to the surfaces most likely to be contaminated or frequently touched in a patient environment. Several studies have shown that the power and speed of UV-C disinfection can be impacted by distance and angle. The strength of the UV-C light decreases the further away it gets from the light source, following the inverse square law. Because of this, the design of the UV-C device can impact the strength of dose applied to surfaces, impacting the level and speed of disinfection.
Systems delivering UV-C must therefore ensure the maximum amount hits the target surface to give the most powerful disinfection. One way to achieve this is to mount the UV-C sources on arms that can be positioned independently and pointed towards and set as close as possible to the target surfaces. This ensures more of the UV-C produced will hit the surface at right angles and at the minimum distance to give the best disinfection.
Despite the advantages of UV-C, few cost-effective practical systems were until recently available for routine use in healthcare settings[iv]. The latest devices now produce powerful UV-C light at the optimum wavelengths to provide fast broad-spectrum disinfection in as little as three minutes. This is more than twice as fast as fogging and almost twice as effective as traditional cleaning and disinfection alone in destroying the pathogens that cause healthcare associated infections.
There are other practical advantages of UV-C technologies. With fogging, for example, areas must be taken out of commission to allow equipment which is often large and cumbersome to be installed. This typically takes far longer than the disinfection time. Afterwards, the equipment must be removed and the area allowed to dry before it can be used. With UV-C, the equipment is simply wheeled in, used and removed within a matter of minutes. That makes it a viable option for disinfection in busy and high throughput settings with little or no impact on room availability. This means the technology can be used throughout a hospital, including patient rooms, operating rooms and bathrooms. Such systems can also be used on patient care equipment, fixtures, keyboards, monitors, and workstations.
While innovative technologies such as UV-C offer new approaches to infection prevention, the healthcare sector continues to evolve its understanding of the relationship between infection rates, surface disinfection and hand hygiene. One of the newest ideas in this area builds on the concept of the five moments of hand hygiene that is widely understood and employed in healthcare settings.
Studies suggest that somewhere between 20 and 40 per cent of HAIs arise when a healthcare worker passes on pathogens from one patient to the next. Pathogens can also be deposited on frequent touch surfaces and survive for extended periods, sometimes months, allowing them to be touched and passed on to other patients. There is a higher risk of acquiring certain pathogens if a room was previously occupied by a colonised or infected patient. All of this helps explain why effective hand hygiene and surface disinfection are important when aiming to prevent infections.
However, there is a growing realisation that even with high levels of compliance, the tried and tested methodologies could be improved. Rigorous daily cleaning of all surfaces, but especially those that are likely to be touched by patients or staff, is essential. But in many settings, some of those surfaces are more likely than others to be touched by multiple people throughout the day. Under those circumstances the idea of a once-a-day disinfection could be inadequate and put patients and staff at increased risk. In reality, studies show that with various people coming into a patient’s room during a normal day, a bed rail could be touched around 250 times by nurses, medical staff, clinical and non-clinical staff, and visitors.
The latest thinking is to adopt a more targeted approach. All areas are cleaned and disinfected daily, as before, but additional attention and focus is paid to frequent touch and high-risk surfaces. In practice, this means items such as bed rails, table-tops and light switches are cleaned much more often. Going further, studies suggest that additional disinfection at the point of care (where three elements come together: patient, healthcare worker and care or treatment involving contact with the patient or their surroundings) will help reduce infection rates. This can be distilled into five critical points:
Before placing a food/drink on an over-bed table
After any procedure involving faeces or respiratory secretions within the patient bed space
Before/after any aseptic practice (wounds, lines, etc.)
After patient bathing (within bed space)
After any object used by/on a patient touches the floor
The idea is in effect to disinfect on demand and clean hands and disinfect surfaces before and after each of these critical moments. Put another way, it is everyone’s job to disinfect, but it is not everyone’s job to disinfect everything every time. However, to be effective these processes must be simple and accessible so that they can be completed whenever needed. They must also be acceptable to healthcare workers and visitors, for example the products used should be non-hazardous and non-irritating. Finally, processes must be fast because anything that adds time or becomes a burden is less likely to be done.
With hand hygiene and surface disinfection critical to these new as well as traditional approaches it follows that there will be innovations in these areas too.
The best healthcare sites globally have reduced their infection rates to around five per cent through diligence and a rigorous application of best practice. In the UK the average infection rate is nearer to ten per cent.
The World Health Organisation promotes hand hygiene through a number of high-profile initiatives. Its annual Clean Your Hands Day, for example, was established in 2005 and has been a global success. This and related WHO programmes are based around the concept of a multimodal hand hygiene improvement strategy. This incorporates five components or building blocks including system change, training, evaluation, awareness and an institutional safety climate that lead to long-term and sustainable improvements. This framework is complemented by the WHO’s focus on the five moments of hand hygiene – the critical times when healthcare professionals should wash their hands: before touching a patient; before a procedure; after body fluid exposure; after touching a patient; after touching patient surroundings.
These recommendations can mean a lot of washing during a normal day. This is not only time-consuming but conventional soaps can strip natural oils which protect the skin, leading to an increased risk of damage through conditions such as dermatitis. Under these circumstances it is sensible to use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser that kills pathogens faster than soap without removing protective oils.
Whatever products are chosen, they must be available and ready to use whenever required. Dispensers should be situated conveniently to encourage regular and proper use. At the same time, they should ideally contain enough product to prolong the interval between refills and therefore minimise the risk of outages and reduce necessary restocking burdens.
Another way to encourage compliance is to monitor usage. While it is rarely desirable to monitor individuals, it is helpful to know how often a particular dispenser has been used and how much product has been consumed. Knowing how many times a dispenser has been used and comparing this with the number of patient contacts by the clinical and nursing team should give a reasonable indication of whether they are complying with agreed standards. If not, additional awareness and training can be provided and the subsequent change in usage patterns assessed.
Surface disinfection is another critical aspect of infection prevention and it is vital to choose the right products. Healthcare cleaning professionals have traditionally selected disinfectants with chlorine as the active ingredient (usually as bleaches) for cleaning hard surfaces.
While widely used, the drawbacks of these formulations in terms of effectiveness and safety are well known. Alternative formulations with Accelerated Hydrogen Peroxide (AHP) as the active ingredient offer numerous advantages with few limitations[v] and their use is growing in popularity.
The key requirement from any disinfectant in healthcare settings is efficacy – to prevent the introduction of potentially harmful pathogens and infections. These can range from hospital associated infections such as MRSA and C. diff to infections common in any setting, such as influenza and Norovirus. Effective surface disinfection is especially important in healthcare because patients are likely to be frail and vulnerable.
It is important to select disinfectants capable of killing pathogens of concern. Problem pathogens, such as norovirus and C. diff., might not be killed by conventional disinfectants. Contact times must be realistically short so that any pathogens are killed before the surface dries.
Disinfectants containing AHP are highly effective against a wide range of viruses, spores, yeasts, and fungi found in healthcare, including C. diff, MRSA, Norovirus, E. coli, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. This broad-spectrum efficacy has been tested to the latest EN standards and submitted into the Biocidal Products Regulations (BPR) – a standard which all actives and disinfectants need to pass. AHP simplifies processes because just one product is needed – using numerous alternative products to provide the same level of performance adds unwanted complexity.
Products containing AHP can be supplied in ready-to-use and ultra-concentrate formats. They can be used at different dilution rates for various applications from daily cleaning to terminal disinfection to offer the right combination of efficacy and economy. Depending on the specific formulation, these products are effective against viruses, spores (including C. diff), yeasts and fungi in one minute or less, meeting demand for highly effective products with shorter contact or dwell times.
Traditional products containing chlorine are generally not as effective on spores and require significantly longer contact times. Products containing AHP have been tested and shown to kill viruses such as Norovirus in up to 30 seconds and the most persistent spores such as C. diff in one minute. Products containing AHP offer additional benefits that simplify day-to-day cleaning operations. With more cleaning taking place while patients are present, processes must be completed safely and efficiently, so as not to create an unpleasant environment or put patients at risk.
AHP degrades to oxygen and water alone shortly after use which helps make formulations containing it safer to use. Chlorine-based products are suspected of aggravating asthma and other respiratory problems, and forming chlorine compounds in the atmosphere. Another consideration is that some products containing AHP have no safety classification whereas chlorine-based products usually carry a hazard symbol.
Breaking down to water and oxygen alone means products with AHP leave little or no residue on surfaces, helping to promote the appearance of the area being cleaned. They can be used safely on a wider range of surfaces, including wool and other fabrics, with reduced risk of damage. Chlorine based products on the other hand will corrode or degrade many surfaces with regular or prolonged use. Nor can they be used as part of a microfibre system because they damage the material, severely restricting their disinfection potency.
The variety of disinfectants has grown in recent years, as manufacturers have developed solutions for specific daily and problem-solving tasks. It is therefore important to match the product to the specific application. This optimises cleaning performance and reduces inefficiencies, poor results, and the need for repeat cleaning. Reputable manufacturers will provide advice on the most suitable products from their ranges to use in every situation. They should also be able to supply the documentation and evidence with independent test data to support product claims.
Hospitals and other healthcare facilities have a wider range of infection prevention tools at their disposal than ever before. The choice available means that there is greater flexibility to specify the right combination to meet infection prevention compliance and reduction targets in the quickest, simplest and most effective way that integrates with the facility’s other processes. The choices can be complex but leading cleaning and hygiene suppliers with experience in healthcare will be able to work with clinical, nursing and housekeeping teams to devise and implement robust infection prevention policies.
[v] Teska, Peter & Rushworth, A & Theelen, M & Jongsma, J. (2013). O018: Evaluation of the efficacy of a novel hydrogen peroxide cleaner disinfectant concentrate. Antimicrobial Resistance and Infection Control. 2. 10.1186/2047-2994-2-S1-O18.
To those who wash their hands correctly, there can surely be nothing more irritating than an empty product dispenser in the washroom.
Lack of a suitable product – soap, disinfectant or sanitiser – makes it near on impossible to wash your hands effectively. This can increase the risk of spreading infections, either through hand-to-hand contact or by contaminating objects or surfaces that are later touched by other people.
In settings where people are already ill or vulnerable – such as hospitals, care homes or schools – improper hand hygiene can present an added risk to their safety. Illnesses that are little more than an inconvenience to a fit and healthy adult can present greater challenges to people in these settings.
Maintaining product availability is the basis of good hand hygiene. It is imperative that those responsible for looking after dispensers check them regularly to make sure they contain enough of the right product and are working correctly.
Modern dispensers usually allow a visual check of product levels without touching the unit. The use of product cartridges or pouches ensures empty and full containers can be swapped in just a few seconds. There should be no excuse for a dispenser being empty.
The latest generation systems such as Diversey’s IntelliCare go further. They issue alerts when they are nearly empty or when their batteries are running low. That allows housekeeping, building care and cleaning teams to respond even more quickly to ensure the continuity of product that helps maintain high levels of compliance.
Studies suggest around 80 per cent of all infectious diseases – including Influenza and the common cold – are spread by touch. Stopping those infections before they have a chance to spread is critical. The simplest way is through basic hand hygiene.
This should not be difficult. And yet, despite the fact we all do it (or at least should do it) several times a day, it seems we don’t always get it right. Let’s break it down a bit.
Are you washing your hands at the right time?
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has developed a highly effective set of guidelines to help improve hand hygiene in healthcare settings. These “five moments of hand hygiene” recommend healthcare workers should wash their hands:
before touching a patient
before clean/aseptic procedures
after body fluid exposure/risk
after touching a patient
after touching patient surroundings
The same principles can be applied to almost any setting. From this it follows that we should all wash our hands:
before handling food
after going to the toilet
after coughing, sneezing or using a tissue
when switching between handling raw food ingredients meat and ready-to-eat or cooked foods
after handling money
after handling waste or litter
after touching dirty surfaces
after picking up something from the floor
after any other activity that contaminates hands
Are you doing it right?
We all think we know how to wash our hands properly, but studies show that we generally do not. Most of the time we don’t spend enough time to let soaps or sanitisers to do their job. Or we don’t apply soap or sanitiser to the whole hand. That means the pathogens that cause illnesses can remain on our hands and spread to other people or contaminate new surfaces. The NHS has a useful video that shows how to wash hands properly.
Are you using effective products?
In many situations, using soap and water will be good enough to clean the hands. In other settings, such as health care and food service, a suitable hand disinfectant can provide additional protection and assurance. Diversey offers a complete range of products including soaps, sanitisers and creams that can be used in different settings and industries to provide the right level of hygiene, protection and infection prevention.
Are these products readily available?
Whatever products are used, it is important to ensure they are available whenever they are needed. That means providing a suitable product at the point of use, checking bottles or dispensers regularly throughout the day and topping up as necessary.
Diversey’s IntelliCare system helps to improve hand hygiene convenience and compliance. The dispenser can be used with a wide range of hand care products – soaps, sanitisers and creams – so that operators can choose the one most suited to their specific requirement.
Each product is supplied in the same design and size of pouch to enable complete interchangeability and flexibility. The pouches are larger than average which, combined with the dispenser’s excellent dosing control, ensures the maximum interval between refills. The dispenser usually operates in contactless mode but switches automatically to manual mode if its battery becomes depleted. It also issues alerts when product or battery levels are getting low so that they can be replaced before they run out. All of this helps to ensure hand hygiene products are always available.
You can learn more about IntelliCare in our introductory video:
Scrubber driers are widely used by healthcare FM and building care teams to clean floors quickly, effectively and productively. It’s always important to match the size and performance of the machine to application requirement so that it can be used efficiently and economically. An additional consideration when working in confined areas, such as those found in many healthcare settings, is to ensure the machine can work in and around obstructions.
Diversey’s TASKI swingo 350B ultra-compact scrubber, for example, is ideal for this type of work because its compact design combines innovation and proven technology to deliver superior floor cleaning performance. It offers cleaning teams an excellent alternative to comparable equipment and is ideal to replace inefficient mopping processes.
Like all TASKI machines this models improves productivity, promotes better hygiene, enhances the appearance and prolongs the life of the floor, and supports controlled and predictable cost in use. It is suitable for areas where the daily cleaning requirement is between 80 and 350 square metres. Low noise and the absence of a power cable makes it ideal for daytime and frequent cleaning applications in busy and confined areas where building occupants and members of the public may be present. It removes dirt completely and leaves the floor totally dry and ready to be walked on immediately with reduced risk of the slip and trip accidents that are one of the biggest causes of injury in the workplace and public spaces.
The tricycle castor configuration and design of the pick-up mechanism ensures that the v-shaped squeegee blade follows the contours of the floor perfectly even when operating over rough or uneven surfaces to remove water, cleaning solution and small pieces of debris. Direct suction line eliminates risk of clogging. The pick up also incorporates an innovative and patented wiping blade in front of the brush which allows the machine to remove solutions from the floor even when operating in reverse. This means the machine can clean and dry areas in tight corners and against walls or obstructions. A wide range of tools and accessories is available to offer operators complete cleaning versatility.
The compact and innovative design of the machine allows it to be used in small and confined spaces. It can turn on the spot while the very low height of 45cm and folding handle allows it to clean under obstacles such as tables and racks. The machine is available with a choice of roller brushes for different floor types. The offset configuration allows it to clean right up to the edge of the floor and along walls. Its spray bar delivers cleaning solution precisely to the point it is needed which helps to improve cleaning performance and reduce wastage.
Ergonomic design ensures the machine is comfortable and productive. Its intuitive controls are similar to those on other TASKI swingo scrubber driers which helps to promote ease-of-use for anyone familiar with existing equipment. The height-adjustable handle ensures comfort during cleaning even when operating along walls or under racks and tables. It is simple and safe to use and reduces training requirements to a minimum.
The TASKI swingo 350B scrubber drier is designed for use with the extensive range professional floor care products from Diversey. These are used with Diversey’s filling and dosing systems such as SmartDose and QuattroSelect to ensure correct mixing for optimum cleaning performance, controlled cost-in-use and no waste for the best possible sustainability.
All service components are coloured yellow for easy identification during daily and routine checks and to simplify operator training. Each can be removed quickly and easily without any tools to minimise downtime. The compact design allows the machine to be stored in a small cupboard when it is not being used.
We’ll be highlighting the TASKI swingo 350B at the forthcoming Healthcare FM event at the National Conference Centre near Birmingham on 12 June.
When we launched the TASKI Trolley we had a simple vision and concept: a modular design and an extensive set of components and accessories would allow an almost infinite variety of configurations. This approach means cleaning teams can choose their “own” unique trolley layout and it has proved incredibly popular: you’ve probably seen a TASKI Trolley being used in your local hospital, supermarket or airport.
Despite this success, we realised when working with our customers in healthcare that sometimes there can be too much choice. In reality, most healthcare cleaning teams have similar requirements and the facilities they work in are much the same. Different customers often specified trolleys configured in more or less the same way from a relatively small subset of the available components. On top of this many of the larger FM and building service contractors we work with wanted to specify a standard trolley for use across multiple sites and contracts.
To make life simpler for our customers we came up with the concept of the TASKI Healthcare Trolley. It’s still based on the modular concept of the original trolley but we have removed complexity for our customers by devising a version preconfigured to suit the majority of healthcare cleaning teams’ needs. The boxes, buckets, bags, tools and accessories included with this trolley are positioned in the right place for the convenient and ergonomic access that makes cleaning work comfortable, productive and efficient. There’s no wasted space and we haven’t included anything that won’t be needed. That’s allowed to create a trolley that is also compact and mobile, ideal for working in and around busy and congested areas found in many healthcare settings. That’s one of the beauties of the modular design concept behind the trolley – you only need to include the features you want.
You can find out more about the TASKI Healthcare Trolley in our display at the forthcoming Healthcare FM event at the National Conference Centre near Birmingham on 12 June.