Hygiene needs to be assured from the floor up, but sound practice and selection of floor cleaning equipment will also safeguard health, safety and wellbeing, says Gordon McVean, International Sales & Marketing Director of Truvox International.
In a care home setting, the overriding priority of cleaning must be to maintain the highest standards of cleanliness and hygiene, and to do so as efficiently as possible.
Yet we must also bear in mind that any cleaning regime can impact the health, safety and welfare of residents, visitors and staff in various other ways.
For example, trip and slip hazards. Technological advances have greatly eased this aspect of risk management. Battery power – thanks to the latest lithium ion technology – now offers a viable alternative to conventional electrically powered machines. We have even cut the cord for upright vacuums – that staple tool of the daily routine clean in many care homes.
Cordless floor cleaning machines not only remove the risk of a resident, member of staff or visitor tripping over a trailing cable, they also spell the end of start-stop cleaning, usually cause less noise disturbance, and so facilitate daytime cleaning and higher productivity.
Hard floors that are slippery when wet, and the attendant hazard warning signs, pose another real risk. Hand mopping exacerbates this danger, as a rinsed mop head inevitably leaves more surface moisture. It also re-circulates soiled solution, leaving a trail of contamination while failing to dislodge embedded dirt, not least in grout lines and crevices.
This is a risk to hygiene that can be obviated with a scrubber dryer that washes, scrubs and dries hard floors in one pass, especially where cylindrical brushes are used. Only clean solution is applied to the floor and then efficiently removed to a holding tank. Scrubbing in this way should be a low-moisture process, so the floor is safe to walk on within minutes, minimising risk and disturbance.
A battery-powered scrubber dryer can combine the benefits of cordless operation with hygienically clean results and – depending on the machine – the versatility to clean low-pile carpets and matting, compactness, and ease of operation. As with all cleaning equipment, lightness, manoeuvrability and ergonomic design promote a healthier and more productive workforce.
Indoor air quality is also deservedly gaining greater attention. While ventilation systems require proper monitoring, dust filters also need to be regularly checked and replaced. Vacuums should provide high levels of filtration – typically, HEPA 3-stage or better.
The type and dosage of chemicals used in cleaning also need to be carefully controlled. Where more astringent solutions are prohibited – in favour of neutral detergents and taurnine-based products – the cleaning action must be sufficiently vigorous to achieve reliably hygienic results. This is another powerful reason favouring scrubber dryers over manual and other methods.
Contamination can quickly spread around any building, not least as soils are tracked from external areas or washrooms and toilets to dining areas and kitchens. Thorough cleaning of barrier matting and floors is the best defence. To ensure it is not undermined, brushes should be colour-coded to guard against cross-contamination.
That vigilance should continue after the cleaning task is complete. It is important to clean the cleaning equipment too. Apart from sterilising brushes and pads, solution and recovery tanks also have to be sanitised. When rinsed out, it’s important they are allowed to dry thoroughly so they are free of contamination for the next shift.
Sound housekeeping starts and ends with floor cleaning practice that promotes health, safety and wellbeing as well as hygiene.