Help Fight LTC Infections with Proper Cleaning and Disinfecting

As viruses become more resistant in Long Term Care, the right tools and cleaning procedures are important to minimize outbreaks — and housekeepers need to be trained accordingly.

As published in the CleanLink article, Fighting Infections With Proper Cleaning And Disinfecting, C. diff, MRSA and VRE are just a few of the common infections found in Long Term Care communities, and just wiping surfaces with hospital-grade disinfectants is not always sufficient to prevent their spread. As viruses like these become more resistant, the appropriate hand tools and proper cleaning procedures are equally important to eradicate outbreaks — and housekeepers need to be trained accordingly.

According to Darrel Hicks, director of environmental services and patient transportation at St. Luke's Hospital, Chesterfield, MO, "Educating employees on the importance of their jobs should go hand in hand with training them on the proper products and procedures to use.

"They are the one thing that stands between the spread of infection from one patient to another," he says. "You don't want to get sick and you don't want to take [infections] home to your family. Follow the procedures and you'll break that chain of infection. We're dumping disinfectant on things and thinking we're killing them when we should do a better job of removing them."

In addition to disinfectants, housekeeping departments rely heavily on microfiber to apply chemicals and remove soils and microorganisms. When cleaning and disinfecting patient rooms, custodians are trained to pay close attention to high-touch surfaces. While custodial departments generally agree on what high-touch surfaces require the most attention, they are often divided about dwell times. With the pressure to turn rooms around quickly, allowing for appropriate dwell times can be challenging. Proper training can help ensure that staff doesn't sacrifice quality for speed.

"If you train your people to do a good job of soil removal, set your cloths and mops up so you're not cross-contaminating surfaces, and give them enough time in a room so they're not rushed, you should be able to do a very good job and reduce the infection rates in hospitals" Hicks says.

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