However, the Karolinska University Hospital study reveals that a few important changes could be used to good effect in the healthcare sector. Placing patients’ belongings in a drawer or a locker rather than leaving them on the bedside table will reduce the number of potentially contaminated items left out in the open, while also making surfaces easier to clean.

Clear guidelines should be drawn up by hospital trusts to denote which cleaning task is whose responsibility so that no task falls through the cracks. A solution such as Tork Digital Cleaning Plans can be highly effective in a busy healthcare environment because it enables hospital management to keep track of what needs to be done and ensure that no task is overlooked. The software allows jobs and reports to be logged immediately and includes functions for planning, administration and follow-up.

But most important of all is that the crucial hand hygiene message should be communicated to everyone – not just the healthcare staff but also the cleaners, porters, patients and visitors.

Posters and signage, along with the strategic positioning of hand-wash stations and hand sanitiser dispensers, will help to get the message across to patients and visitors. And hand hygiene training should be rolled out to all members of hospital staff – healthcare workers, cleaners and porters alike.

with items including personal toiletries, specimen bottles, medicine cups and glasses. They observed that the cleaners were often found to be cleaning around these items rather than moving them.

So the hospital made a few changes. First it hired a new cleaning services company and insisted that all staff should be trained in the fundamentals of infection prevention and control.

All cleaning routines were then updated and checklists were established to ensure that each task was documented. Healthcare staff were asked to clean all elements of the ‘near-patient environment’ which included the bed, bedside table, lamp and wheelchair while the remaining duties were allocated to the cleaners.

Nine months after the change in procedures it was discovered that compliance with basic clinical hygiene routines had risen by an average of 16 percentage points at the hospital. The management team then discovered that the staff had become more motivated to improve their hygiene compliance because they knew the study was taking place.

Healthcare workers and hospital cleaners face enormous challenges on a day-to-day basis, and there will always be days when the urgency of one task might lead to another being skimped or overlooked.

The Tork VR Clean Hands Training and Education app provides an ideal platform for hand hygiene training in the healthcare sector. Developed in conjunction with behavioural scientists, this app uses virtual reality to provide healthcare staff with realistic scenarios in which hand washing needs to be carried out. It is aimed at healthcare professionals, cleaners and EVS.

During the COVID-19 pandemic it has been more important than ever to stick to clear cleaning and hand hygiene regimes as well as to practise social-distancing. The Tork Safe at Work: COVID-19 Healthcare Toolkit supports healthcare staff with hands-on training and includes resources for better hand hygiene, surface hygiene and dispenser placement as well as downloadable instruction posters.

Mild soaps, effective hand sanitisers and soft towels housed in user-friendly dispensers will also help to facilitate hand hygiene in healthcare. All Tork dispensers have been designed to be easy to use and give out only one towel or shot of soap or sanitiser at a time at a time to prevent the issue of cross-contamination.

Appropriate products are vital to successful infection control protocols in the healthcare sector. But they should be provided in conjunction with good training, efficient systems and a high level of communication between patients, staff and cleaners to ensure that everyone understands the importance of hygiene - and that no important task is overlooked. TOMORROW’S FM | 29

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