Redesigning laundry for clinical services

The care sector has been tasked with managing a rapid increase of residents on a large scale due to our ageing population. As a result, the NHS has been urged to increase available care beds. As Clare Long, business account manager for care at the Professional Division of Miele, observes, coping with greater numbers of residents requires changes to be made at each stage of care.

Laundry facility design is just one aspect of clinical care which can easily be overlooked during a capacity crisis. However, failing to provide an adequate clinical laundry service could result in major risks to residents, visitors and healthcare workers. Comprehensive planning and a process-led approach is key to effective laundry design. It’s vital to take layout, appropriate space, location and choice of laundry equipment into consideration. Here are the four steps we’d recommend taking, whether you’re implementing a brand-new laundry facility or simply looking to revise your existing set-up.

Step 1: Preparing your brief

Your objectives should be at the centre of the brief from the beginning. Whether you’re looking to increase capacity, improve hygiene or something else, this will largely inform the rest of the design process and your choices. Consider and accommodate for any vital prerequisites upfront so they don’t trip you up further down the line. Firstly, think about the risks involved in the process and what it intends to achieve. The nature of soiling will dictate specific laundry requirements for ensuring that safe practices are being observed. For example, emergency care facilities might need to consider precautions for blood-borne diseases, whereas paediatric care units might be concerned about oral ingestion of pathogens through fabrics. Failure to properly disinfect bed linen,

clothing, and any personal items containing bodily fluids, faecal matter or blood could pose a significant risk of infection, especially in an environment of lower immunity.1,2,3 A lower-risk healthcare facility is very likely to have different priorities, which may be equally as challenging to achieve. Notable changes in the clinical environment such as expansion, reorganisation or supply shortages need to be considered and reflected in your processes. Likewise, if the laundry redesign was prompted by a need to make improvements, it is vital that old problems

Failure to properly disinfect bed linen, clothing, and any personal items containing bodily fluids, faecalmatter or blood could pose a significant risk of infection, especially in an environment of lower immunity.

MAY 2019

have been addressed in the new model. Whether it’s to account for a new specialism or an effort to reduce costs or carbon footprint, design your laundry around the specific needs of the clinical environment it is servicing. When considering options for high-risk items, outsourced laundry may seem like a safe option. Although removing laundry from the care environment seems convenient, you will very likely still require a basic on-premise laundry to account for frequently used items, emergencies, delays and complications.

Step 2: Process and usage considerations

Laundry design projects are often led by managers and contractors who will not actually be using the system once implemented. To make sure the new facility design is both effective and practical for daily use, it can be beneficial to involve the staff that will be using the equipment in the planning process.


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