ASK THE EXPERT: Electrolux outlines best practice for care home laundries

How does a care home ensure that its laundry acts as a barrier to infection and cross-contamination, rather than a cause of it? Care Home Professional spoke to Amanda Dufrane, segment manager UK & Ireland for Care at Electrolux Professional, to find out.

Care Home Professional: Describe your solution, as you would to a procurement executive or operations head of a major care home group or independent property. What is new this year? What are the key selling points of your solution? How does your solution differ from your competition?

Amanda Dufrane: As one of the market leading suppliers of full Laundry Cycle Management (LCM) solutions, I would say one of our key selling points is our ability to help operators manage the entirety of their on-premise laundry, regardless of size. We are able to guide care homes from initial pre-purchase product demonstrations, right the way through the commissioning and supply of a wide variety of best-in-class washing and drying equipment with a firm focus on hygienic traceability, coupled with comprehensive product training and dedicated after sales support.

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Given the vulnerability of care home residents, it is imperative that operators are fully aware of the importance of hygiene when it comes to both the handling and cleaning of laundry, however our recent survey of the care sector revealed that over a quarter of UK care home staff do not feel their laundry is managed in a way which completely avoids contamination.

One of the most effective ways to prevent contamination of clean laundry is to use a barrier washing system. The barrier laundry solution has been designed so linen is loaded into the machine on the dirty side and then removed on the clean (opposite) side, with a wall providing a barrier between the dirty and clean sides. This means that – provided the operator adheres to the appropriate health and safety hygiene procedures when loading and unloading the machine, there should be no opportunity for recontamination.

When it comes to differentiating ourselves from the rest of the market, aside from our role as project management consultants for the installation and beyond, our Efficient Dosing (ED) system is a unique solution to help care home operators maintain hygienic best practice whilst keeping an eye on costs. By connecting via an interface directly to a washing machine’s detergent pump, the ED system is able to regulate the chemical in line with the exact quantity of water in the drum, as the washing machine would have already weighed the load and added in the appropriate amount of water. In other words, if the machine is 67% full, then only 67% of a full load of water will be used as well as 67% of the required detergent.

Amanda Dufrane - Electrolux Professional

Amanda Dufrane – Electrolux Professional

What’s more, from a process validation perspective, to achieve full thermal disinfection, a cycle has to be held at 71°C for three minutes, or 65°C for at least ten minutes, in order to satisfy the requirements in the section ‘Disinfection of linen’ in the ‘Management and Provision’ Volume of CFPP 01-04.

To give operators peace of mind when it comes to meeting this legislation, the ED system will record the entire process to offer confirmation of thermal disinfection and allow for complete traceability when it also comes to filing reports for the Care Quality Commission (CQC). Finally, all operational and cycle data can be downloaded to give operators and managers full disclosure and transparency.

We don’t believe there is anything similar currently available to care home operators and the technology reinforces our position as one of the thought leaders when it comes to developing hygienic and reliable products that can add real value to laundry operators in the care sector – both in terms of cost savings and critical data transparency.

Care Home Professional: How would you describe the benefits of creating a professional in-house laundry system versus outsourcing all laundry to an external service provider?

Amanda Dufrane: Many care homes have outsourced their laundry in the past, largely with a view to keeping costs down, however doing so poses a dramatically increased risk of exposing linen to a variety of contamination risks.

There are a number of key processes which contribute to an effective Laundry Cycle Management plan that may not be guaranteed if the process is taken off-site and out of the direct control of care home, such as the proper packaging and transportation of dirty laundry via dedicated routes, and the correct storing of clean linen to protect it from damage by micro-organisms.

Realistically, on premise laundries (OPLs) are the only way care home operators and managers are able to guarantee they have 100 per cent control over the integrity of their laundry processes.

Care Home Professional: As care home professionals consider the best way to invest in their laundry, what are the most important questions they must ask themselves?

Amanda Dufrane: I think the most important thing to bear in mind is to constantly keep laundry front of mind, especially when it comes to ensuring Laundry Cycle Management best practice. I would urge operators to ask themselves if they really are looking at the bigger picture. Is every stage of the process carefully considered and free from infection or contamination risks; and, ultimately, are we taking this seriously?

Electrolux’s survey on the state of the care sector also revealed that over half of respondents felt that LCM training needed to be improved with a view to rectifying potential issues in their laundry procedures.

In short there really is no quick-fix solution to achieving an effective and hygienic laundry process. Getting the right equipment will go a long way; however, without backing up a purchase with in-depth training so as to educate and ingrain a proper understanding of why best practice procedures need to be adopted – care homes risk both endangering residents and undermining significant capital investment as there will be no guarantee for total hygienic cleanliness.

Care Home Professional: What are your workhorse products for washing, drying, finishing?

Amanda Dufrane: Barrier washers are of course an ideal solution for the care industry. Electrolux Professional’s Line 5000 series of barrier washers are perfect for the care sector and can go a long way to helping encourage Laundry Cycle Management best practice, due to the physical separation between dirty and clean linen. The range also employs our Efficient Dosing System and again offers operators full traceability when it comes to checking all washes have been completed in line with industry standards.

However, we pride ourselves on our ability to offer one of the most diverse product portfolios on the market, capable of meeting the demands of both new-build and existing care homes – regardless of how many residents they are looking after. What’s more Electrolux Professional is the first and only laundry equipment manufacturer to have been awarded Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Points (HACCP) accreditation, globally.

Ultimately, the traceability our complete product range offers gives peace of mind to operators when it comes to process validation, so they will be able to fully monitor the performance of their laundry equipment, and ensure that all wash cycles are carried out in line with hygiene protocol.

Care Home Professional: Are there any other key messages your company would like to convey as care homes consider their future laundry needs?

Amanda Dufrane: Ensuring residents’ laundry is both aesthetically and hygienically clean should of course be one of the key aims for care home operators and managers. However it is important to remember that this is not just for infection control purposes, as clean and fresh laundry which is well looked after can go a long way to helping residents feel comfortable in their surroundings. This was evident in our survey of the care sector, which also revealed that three quarters of respondents felt that the laundering of resident’s clothing has a link to their happiness, with a similar number also indicating that loss or damage to clothing as an important factor for the families of residents.

Ultimately, laundry really needs to be front of mind for care home professionals in order to both protect and comfort their residents. The process should not be viewed in isolation and must be combined with appropriate equipment and proper training to ensure a site’s Laundry Cycle Management can be as effective as possible.

Read our comprehensive report to laundry management in the December edition of Care Home Professional Magazine including advice from Girbau, Miele, Grosvenor Contracts and Berendsen.

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