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INFECTION PREVENTION & CONTROL Firstly, familiarise yourself with the


laundry systems and processes throughout the organisation. Does the laundry staff have a specific schedule in place or is last minute availability of machines an important requirement?


Care home laundry facilities, for example, are typically in use for eight hours every day, seven days a week. Depending on the size of the clinical environment and the type of care it offers this will vary. Calculating the capacity required each hour will help to determine how many machines you will need and how much space to allocate for apparatus and transport and storage of laundry. Some healthcare organisations, like residential care homes and mental health units, even encourage residents to launder their own belongings. If this is something you already incorporate, or you’re looking to introduce resident laundry as a sensory planning activity, choosing user-friendly equipment with quick cycles is key. It’s also important to take mobility of users into account; consider easy access for older residents who struggle to bend down, physically disabled residents who require wheelchair access or easy-use customised settings for multilingual residents or those with learning difficulties.


The risk of infection breakouts in clinical environments can be minimised by maintaining a strict dirty to clean flow in a well-ventilated laundry room. Take care to segregate washed and unwashed laundry throughout the entirety of the process or consider the implementation of a specialist barrier washer to remove the possibility of re-contamination. Taking the time to assess the laundry process from top to bottom offers the potential to increase efficiency and improve on quality. Equally, a badly thought-through redesign could result in costly inefficiencies or the risk of cross-infection.


The washing machines you choose will have to fulfil certain criteria in order to achieve a good quality clean in accordance with infection control regulation.


Step 3: Space, location and layout


Spatial allocation can have a significant impact on the efficiency of your laundry system. There are many factors which are very difficult to change following implementation and potentially unsafe to ignore. However, with the continual demand for more care beds, space availability may be limited – potentially leaving laundry


facility design as an afterthought.4 This is where process-led laundry design can help achieve efficiency, convenience and safety in compliance with industry standards. For instance, a location with access to an ‘outside wall’ offers many benefits in ventilation and exhausts, maintenance work and direct access during problematic hours. Compliance with Water Regulations Advisory Scheme (WRAS) insists upon hardware measures to prevent contaminated backflow of water. This covers protection of fresh water coming into contact and becoming contaminated with hazardous or infectious substances like chemical detergents or human matter. WRAS- compliant models usually feature a fitted double-check valve, which is integrated into commercial Miele washers. This ensures that potentially contaminated water does not flow back into the mains water supply. Alternatively, a break tank will have to be added to prevent backflow of dirty water, which is important to take into account in your facility layout plans. Alternatively, a break tank will have to be added to prevent backflow of dirty water, which is important to take into account in your facility layout plans. The location of the laundry room may also affect other processes in the clinical practice. Ensure that the location is far from patients’ bedrooms and reception areas to avoid noise complaints and enable access during busy periods.


If space limitations are unavoidable, it might be a matter of choosing equipment wisely to maintain enough room for storage and processing. We recommend maximum allowances for up to three-quarters of a kilo per person per week, which means that an appropriate drum size and spin cycle must be selected to cope with the projected volume and suggest at least two machines in order to minimise down time.


Step 4: Equipment choice


An effective laundry system for clinical services inherently requires the correct high- quality equipment. The washing machines you choose will have to fulfil certain criteria in order to achieve a good quality clean in accordance with infection control regulation. Barrier washers offer a superior level of control over infection but may be an unnecessary expenditure for a facility providing clinical services to lower risk patients. For example, the level of protection against infection required for Accident and Emergency (A&E) which deals with large volumes of potentially high-risk soiled laundry might not be needed at a GP surgery. Nonetheless, processing large loads of regular laundry quickly and economically presents its own challenges. Equipment with a large drum capacity is best suited for an environment with a fast turnover of laundry. A bigger drum allows more laundry to be washed at one time within the machine’s footprint to reduce costs, time and energy


68 I WWW.CLINICALSERVICESJOURNAL.COM MAY 2019


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