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Adapting laundry care


Mick Christian, Regional Training & Demonstration Manager at Electrolux Professional, explains how operators can safely and securely adapt their laundry operations in care homes in the wake of the Coronavirus.


Correct handling of laundry processes within care homes is absolutely vital in the coronavirus battle. As bacteria and viruses can remain active in linen for long periods of time, each stage of the journey must be carefully monitored and validated in order to form a reliable top-layer defence.


In principal, an effective Laundry Cycle Management plan against the coronavirus should not dramatically differ from normal day-to-day operations. Key to this is the use of a validation-based system that tracks the laundry process from the proper packaging and transportation of dirty items via dedicated routes, through to the correct storage of linen once it is clean.


For full thermal disinfection to take place, we know that a wash cycle must reach 93°C for one minute, 71°C for three minutes, or 65°C for at least 10 minutes to satisfy the requirements of HTM 01-04. However, given the highly infectious nature of the coronavirus, all resident clothing, as well as staff uniforms, should be factored into the care home’s Laundry Cycle Management plan.


The latter is particularly important, given that many staff may usually wash their uniforms at home. However, it’s virtually impossible for a domestic machine to achieve full thermal disinfection, therefore all staff uniforms should be cleaned on site.


Given the critical nature of preventing the spread of an infection within a care home, having full traceability that thermal disinfection has taken place is an integral element of effective Laundry Cycle Management. In the past this has been difficult, but there are now tools available to guarantee linen is being disinfected effectively – allowing care homes to rule out laundry as a cause of infection.


Electrolux Professional offers a Process Validation plug-in accessory that records and stores entire wash cycle data. As well as confirming thermal disinfection has taken place, this allows for complete traceability when it comes to filing reports or audits for the Care Quality Commission (CQC), with all operational and cycle data available for download.


However, any piece of laundry equipment is only truly effective when employed as part of a holistic Laundry Cycle Management process, which should comprise:


1. Personal protective equipment (PPE) should be worn at all times.


2. Pre-sort dirty linen first, ensuring items can be washed effectively with programs appropriate to textile type.


3. Transport linen using dedicated trolleys and routes that avoid contaminating the surrounding environment.


4. During sorting, check for sharp devices and waste products that may cause damage.


46 | HEALTHCARE HYGIENE


5. Wash items, ensuring appropriate temperatures and chemicals are used based on fabric type.


6. Perform drying and ironing as soon as possible after washing to prevent recontamination, and provide a further level of thermal disinfection.


7. Pack and stow clean items in appropriate trolleys or laundry areas.


8. Cleaned linen must be transported post-wash via ‘clean’ routes.


9. Final storage of linen is vital to ensure it remains hygienic. Replace wood shelving with metal or plastic to minimise micro-organism growth and use linen which has been stowed away for the longest first.


Larger care homes may have the space and capacity to implement a barrier-style washing process. A physical barrier between the soiled and clean areas is extremely effective at mitigating any cross contamination. However, the majority of care homes will not be able to accommodate this, instead operating conventional commercial washing and drying equipment.


Here, it’s vitally important that staff mirror the barrier process as much as possible, ensuring PPE used is removed and disposed of once the machine is loaded; that the machine and its operating panel, as well as any other ancillary equipment, are thoroughly cleaned and disinfected; and fresh PPE is donned prior to the handling, storage and distribution of fresh linen, clothing and uniforms.


While already strenuous demands on the care sector have been exacerbated by COVID-19, operators still have the power to mitigate one of the biggest vehicles for transmission by adhering to a strict Laundry Cycle Management process. Doing so can make a real difference.


www.electroluxprofessional.com www.electroluxprofessional.com/gb/care


twitter.com/TomoCleaning


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