Laundry management

Promoting best practice in laundry management

Bedding, clothing, towels and cleaning materials need to be laundered to a high standard and turned around quickly, while ensuring infection control guidelines and other regulations are adhered to, says Clare Long, business account manager for care, professional division, Miele

Residential care and nursing homes face a number of challenges when it comes to managing laundry, not least in relation to time and budgetary constraints. Laundry is just one of many day to day tasks that need to be managed, so it is important for processes and equipment to be as quick and efficient as possible. Whether you’re looking to upgrade existing equipment, purchase new appliances or simply address your operational procedures, it is vital to take the relevant factors into consideration to ensure your laundry operation is both efficient and compliant.

Care homes must understand, adhere to and demonstrate compliance with guidelines and regulations in a number of different operational areas and laundry is no exception. One of the biggest challenges is the threat of infection to an already vulnerable community, so compliance with NHS infection control guidelines is crucial to creating a safe environment. These include Health Technical Memorandum (HTM) 01-04, which addresses the decontamination of linen in health and social care. Dealing with potentially contaminated laundry can add complexity to the process, so the correct procedures must be followed to ensure items are clean and safe to be re-used. In order to thermally disinfect linen, it must be washed and held at various times and temperatures throughout the cycle: 10 minutes at 65 ˚C or over, three minutes at 75 ˚C or over and one minute at 85 ˚C or over. Care homes need to ensure they have commercial washing machines that are capable of reaching and managing

Laundry facilities will often be on-site due to the risks posed by potentially contaminated items

these temperatures. Reliability is key, as machines that fail could mean a build up of soiled laundry, which increases the risk of infection spreading.

Sourcing appliances

When sourcing appliances, it is important to take Water Regulatory Advisory Scheme (WRAS) guidance into consideration to ensure the mains water supply cannot become contaminated. This applies to any hazardous or infectious waste that is managed in hospitals, dentists, GP surgeries and veterinary practices as well as care homes. Complaint washing machines usually have a one-way valve fitted into the drum to ensure that potentially infected water exits through the normal waste system rather than re-entering the mains water supply. Alternatively, some

Adequate staff training should be provided and regularly revised, especially where there might be a high staff turnover


larger commercial machines feature a break tank, which similarly prevents the back flow of dirty water.

It is vital to comply with and uphold all regulations as standard practice as the Care Quality Commission (CQC) undertakes site visits and inspections. Staff also need to have a good understanding of the impact of non- compliance and more importantly their individual responsibility for delivering against the standards required. Adequate staff training should be provided and regularly revised, especially where there might be a high staff turnover.

Laundry facilities will often be on-site due to the risks posed by potentially contaminated items. However, a lack of space is a commonly cited challenge when building or creating an on-site laundry facility. While the primary focus for care home managers is always caring for residents, homes must also be managed and operated as a business, which may mean increasing the number of beds to generate more revenue. A room that is being used for laundry could potentially • November 2018

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