The hot topic at the moment all over the world, including the UK, is `infection control`. We have had multiple clients with concerns around this particular subject, some much more in need of compliance around this subject than others. Medical facilities are our main clients, and we have a responsibility as subcontractors to ensure that these premises are cleaned and sanitised to the highest standards. When you receive a call from a client requiring an `environmental clean`, it just goes to show that our industry is a larger part of the fight against infection than we ever thought.
Let me give you an example. On one particular occasion, we received a call at 9 p.m on a Sunday evening. The client’s main concern was “Can I open tomorrow?” They’d had a positive COVID-19 result from a colleague, and the building required an `environmental clean`. The client mentioned to us that the area had been closed off, and all the necessary in-house precautions had been taken. It was now down to us to make sure they were prepared and ready to open again.
What goes into an Environment Clean?
Environmental cleans can focus on a small room all the way to a whole medical facility. However, the preparation is always the same, so all eventualities must be accounted for. The importance of this clean, and how it affects the public who use the facility is understood by the cleaning company and their operatives.
Fully trained staff arrive within 24 hours of the call all decked up in their PPE. As they enter the site, all areas are closed off, ventilated and work begins. The staff works meticulously with the appropriate sanitisers, ensuring the area and everything in it has full coverage. The only way to guarantee this happens is to clean everything. Nothing is missed and everything in the area is double cleaned - this gives us the opportunity to make sure we have complete coverage of a particular area. PPE is changed at regular intervals along with disposable equipment all of which go into quarantine. At this point, the safety notices are removed and the area is handed back to the client.
Other than cleaning, what impact does this have on the medical practice and patients?
A 2018 survey by the Physicians Foundation found that a physician can see up to 20 patients a day. The impact on patients is unmeasurable, and it is our responsibility to ensure that we deliver cleanliness and hygiene in a safe and timely manner and at no risk to our colleagues. We believe that while we clean, we are accountable for others’ safety.
I believe the key to providing this service is preparation and responsibility. As an outsourced cleaning company, we must take full responsibility for the services we are providing. With cleaning in the medical sector, you don’t get a second chance. So, each task must be carried out to the highest standard, and staff must be trained and appropriately prepared for these eventualities. Healthcare in the UK is scrutinised on a daily basis. Our health service heroes work at a high level of consistency hour by hour. As a cleaning company, especially in the medical sector, the same is required and expected.
In these particular circumstances, the environmental clean was organised and executed within twelve hours. The most satisfying part of this is that the client had her facility back, and her patients did not have to suffer.
Maybe other industries that once looked belittlingly at the cleaning industry and cleaning operatives in general are having a rethink. The world is in a state of change, and cleaning is no longer a silent service but an essential part of our day to day lives.
About the author:
Tony Scozzari has over 20 years of experience in the facilities industry, managing large corporate contracts and small stand-alone sites for large multinational facilities companies. In 2015, he was co-director/owner of LTS cleaning. Under his leadership, the company was chosen as the Best New Business award in 2018. He is now the sole director of Sector Support Services, a UK based soft services facilities provider.