Cleaning In Long-Term Care Facilities

Consistent, effective processes help to ensure a healthy environment for occupants and employees alike.

By Joe Davis
From the June 2018 Issue

Cleaning professionals in long-term care (LTC) face the challenge of finding ways to be efficient and contain costs, while also working to minimize outbreaks and other infections that can be transmitted in LTC environments. These types of facilities include nursing homes, skilled nursing facilities, and assisted living facilities. Properly cleaning and disinfecting resident rooms and common areas can help reduce disease transmission, and while it seems intuitive, cleaning first is the key to ensuring that disinfection is completed properly. There are simple tips that cleaning managers can use to help keep common areas clean and help lessen the spread of infectious diseases between both residents and employees.

long-term care
Cleaning surfaces first is critical to remove the surface soil and dirt that
can harbor germs and bacteria, and this sets the stage for better disinfection.
(Photo: P&G Professional)

Educate and Train Staff. It takes time and consistency to establish and maintain proper cleaning protocols, but once done, the eventual dividends of a formal cleaning training program can be significant. Employees who are trained properly may take more pride in improving residents’ environments through correct cleaning and disinfecting techniques. Staff should be provided with regular formal trainings, procedures, and tools like online training courses.

Use Multipurpose Products. To simplify cleaning and disinfecting tasks while increasing efficiencies, facility managers should choose EPA-registered multipurpose products designed to clean a broad range of task areas and disinfect in one step. Cleaning first is critical to remove surface soil and dirt that can harbor germs and bacteria, and it sets the stage for better disinfection. Cleaning and disinfecting with a single product can help simplify the cleaning process, as well as help ensure the overall task gets done right the first time.

High-Touch Areas. An easy way to help combat the spread of germs is to pay special attention to the top touch points in LTC facilities. These high-touch surfaces are where high-level germ transmissions can occur more frequently, so they should be addressed in training and checked regularly by management to ensure they are being cleaned and disinfected as required. These critical touch points include, but are not limited to, door handles, faucets, food trays, countertops, chairs, tables, light switches, toilet handles, handrails, and elevator buttons. Cleaning staff should consistently clean and disinfect these areas throughout the day.

Promote Hand Washing. Hand washing is one of the most important steps that staff members can take to help fight the spread of germs, bacteria, and disease. Facility managers should create and enforce proper hand washing protocol to reduce germs and keep staff accountable. They should also ensure that any area where staff regularly wash their hands is stocked and consistently checked to make sure soap, hand sanitizer, and paper towel dispensers are filled and accessible. Hand washing as a priority should not be limited to your staff—help residents and visitors make this part of their daily routine as well.

Smells and Scents. Smell is one key indicator that an area or surface is not really clean, which can affect not only a resident’s comfort level, but also the impression family members have of the facility. Cleaning and disinfecting with trusted brands and well-known products can provide a comforting, familiar experience that puts residents and guests at ease, particularly in the LTC sector, where familiar scents can help residents feel like they’re in their own homes.

Facility managers should always be vigilant in their cleaning efforts and staff training. By promoting good hand washing practices, identifying high-touch surfaces, and regularly cleaning and disinfecting, facility managers can help keep environments clean and hygienic. This, in turn, can help curb outbreaks and illnesses in LTC facilities.

The decision to transition a family member into long-term care is never an easy one and it should be no surprise that one of the most important considerations is whether or not the residence matches the comforts and standards of living that the potential resident is accustomed to. Environmental factors like smelly restrooms, sticky tables and chairs, or couches and drapes that smell can negatively influence the first impression of those who are looking for a LTC facility and can impact overall resident satisfaction. Residents are more comfortable in a clean, inviting atmosphere that helps them feel at home, whether that’s visible cleanliness, fresh smelling rooms, or a clutter-free space.

long-term careDavis is food, drug, retail, & healthcare channel leader for P&G Professional, the away-from-home division of Procter & Gamble, serving the foodservice, building cleaning and maintenance, healthcare, hospitality, food/drug/mass, and convenience store industries. The company also offers free online training for cleaning professionals through its P&G Professional University. Davis joined Procter & Gamble in 1996 and has worked in many businesses including global information technology, global consumer relations, and customer business development. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Business from Northern Kentucky University.

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