Cleaning techniques have a role to play in the wellbeing of people living and working in residential aged care, writes Jonas Cruz.

The health, wellness, safety and overall care of residents in aged care facilities has always been of the utmost of importance. But the Aged Care Quality Standards introduced in July are more comprehensive in nature. Their aims include improving the quality of life of residents by enhancing infection control, catering, cleaning and laundry services.

Examining the challenges and solutions of cleaning techniques and products within aged care facilities can help provide a safe and high-quality health system that offers ultimate care required and elevates the overall standard for people living in aged care facilities.

The latest National Aged Care Workforce Census and Survey shows almost a quarter of a million people are employed within the aged care sector as direct care providers.

The nature of their work, such as performing physically demanding tasks, can impact their wellbeing. Community and personal service workers accounted for 11.1 per cent of serious workers’ compensation claims in 2016 – 17, Safe Work Australia’s annual report shows.

Jonas Cruz

Workplace safety consultants DorsaVi undertook a trial with the Royal Melbourne Hospital in 2016 to investigate the challenge of ergonomics. They found that microfibre mopping had a 20 per cent lower movement risk over traditional mopping.

Introducing microfibre mopping eliminated a number of risk factors. Firstly, the mopping action is completed closer to the body’s core which offers more evenly symmetrical shoulder movement. Secondly it eradicates the use of buckets of water, which removes the need for filling and carrying heavy buckets of chemical solution.

In response to a growing number of workers suffering injuries, the Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2012 – 2022 identified the health care industry as a priority to reduce the number and rate of work-related injuries and illnesses.

The strategy aims to reduce the number of worker fatalities due to injury by at least 20 per cent and reduce the rate of claims for musculoskeletal disorders by at least 30 per cent.

Impacts of infection control

One of the biggest and most common challenges for aged care facilities is infection control. The risk of Healthcare Associated Infections occur for many reasons and whilst they can’t be completely eliminated, they can be managed with the correct protocols.

Environmental services or frequent touchpoints such as door handles, bathroom taps, and lift buttons can carry infections, which is why the Communicable Disease Network Australia recommends these areas be cleaned more frequently than the routinely recommended daily cleaning.

The first step many institutes take is the introduction of microfibre mops and cloths, which is a relatively new innovation. According to research published in the Journal of Hospital Infection, introducing microfibre products into a company’s end-to-end cleaning cycle has proved superior to traditional methods of removing pathogens and organisms from the point of cleaning.

Microfibre products reinforced confidence in cleaning for staff and infection prevention management teams as well as reduce cross contamination in the rooms.

Enhancing the environment to bring positive change

Facilities can increase efficiencies by switching to microfibre products because they reduce the time needed to clean rooms.

Microfibre cloths can trap dirt, dust, grease and germs from a range of surfaces and touchpoints without the use of high quantities of water and chemicals that go down the drain.

Reusable mop heads and cloths can be washed to reduce the amount of product waste going to landfill.

Sustainability is such an important consideration, as people are becoming increasingly more concerned about the environmental impact of their choices.

Sustainable cleaning by reducing chemicals and water without compromising on the standard of hygiene is an important step in enhancing positive change and benefiting the health and wellness of aged care staff and residents alike.

Having a strategic cleaning program using microfibre cloths and mops that are fully washable can help prevent and control the spread of infection with products that maintain a strong reputation for high standards.

Other elements including productivity and time management are pivotal for success. It is important aged care facilities continue to solve the challenges they are facing while striving for the best possible cleaning standard for residents.

Jonas Cruz is senior manager of sales ANZ at Rubbermaid Commercial Products.

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