If the pandemic taught us anything, it is how important efficient cleaning is to our health and safety.
In the ISSA State of the Industry 2021 report Nick Morris from Western Paper Distributors states:
“Interestingly, it took a global pandemic to highlight the importance of having clean and safe spaces. It is encouraging that our industry has been advanced to the front lines as a result.”
The importance of cleaning for health and safety is all too familiar for healthcare and hospital settings, where preventing the spread of HAI’s (Hospital Acquired Infections) and other life-threatening pathogens and viruses is one of the top safety measures they must take.
IMPORTANCE OF INCREASED CLEANING IN HEALTHCARE FACILITIES
Hospital and healthcare staff and the cleaning teams in those facilities are not new to this concept—the last 20-30 years has brought with them in-depth research into just how important efficient and frequent cleaning is in hospital and health care facilities and the actual impact it can have on patients and staff.
According to research done in 2014 by Stephanie J. Dancer, and published in the journal Clinical Microbiology Review, research beginning in the 1990’s discovered that by cutting cleaning staff, Hospital Acquired Infections (HAI’s) started to rise, causing alarm for both patients and hospital staff.
According to the study, the response was to monitor the amount of cleaning in healthcare facilities and more specifically to pay close attention to what types of surfaces and tools (ex. blood pressure cuffs) were being cleaned, and how often cleaning of these items was done.
The research suggests that more frequent cleaning has a direct impact on the reduction of HAI’s and the spread of pathogens and other viruses.
At the time of the study, research was still being done to show to what extent and what type of cleaning is necessary to protect patients and staff from getting an HAI.
While the study goes on to analyze diverse types of infections and how they spread in different wards of hospitals, in most cases one thing is clear, frequent and consistent cleaning is necessary in reducing the spread of infection.
For example, in one case, after “infection control interventions, such as patient isolation and hand hygiene programs” were fully implemented as suggested, to contain an outbreak of MRSA (methicillin-resistant S. Aureus—a staph bacteria that becomes resistant to antibiotics used to treat ordinary staph infections), the strain was still detected on hospital surfaces and the outbreak persisted.
According to the study:
the response was to double the number of hours of cleaning per week from “60 h to 120 h per week” and “there was an immediate reduction in the number of new acquisitions. The authors [of the study] believed that the extra cleaning was crucial in terminating the outbreak...” (Dancer).
This research makes it clear that the job of the hospital cleaning staff is vital to patient health and safety and that measures must be taken to help them keep up with increased demand.
CLEANING PLANS ARE ESPECIALLY IMPORTANT TO MEETING CLEANING DEMANDS
In order to be prepared for an influx of patients, and to make sure a healthcare facility is always clean and ready at all times of day and night, cleaning staff must follow strict cleaning plans.
The CDC outlines key methods for how to clean different parts of healthcare facilities. These plans include:
- The Highest Risk Assessment based on: “Probability of Contamination, Vulnerability of Patients to Infection, and Potential Exposure to Pathogens.”
These three factors are to be determined first in terms of designing plans that work to stop the spread of infections. The CDC goes on to lay further implementation factors such as:
- Evaluating the Environment: The CDC recommends starting from top to bottom and cleaner to dirtier—both based on practical ways to eliminate additional transfer of pathogens.
This is just a basic premise and the detailed plans can be accessed on the CDC website.
HOW FLEET MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE CAN HELP
While cleaning floors is one of the final steps in making sure wards and rooms in healthcare facilities have been meticulously cleaned, it is an incredibly crucial step—especially when considering research that demonstrates how pathogens can be tracked from one room to another on the bottoms of shoes, and even kicked up into the air, cause for further concern.
Using floor cleaning equipment like ICE Robotics, Intelligent Cleannig Equipment can help monitor and track these processes.
- Review Machine Operational Data: Fleet management software like i-Synergy, a cloud-based platform allowing access through an app or computer device, gives site managers the ability to review machine operational data.
While following clearly defined protocols and plans, site managers can review machine usage reports to track when and where a machine is used, for how long, and frequency of use.
Access to this data gives a clearer picture of how long cleaning processes are taking and may reveal opportunities for improvement.
- Develop Clearer Plans and Processes: Collecting, monitoring, and analyzing this data is one way to make sure rooms are being cleaned within appropriate time frames and that certain processes are being followed.
The CDC recommends cleaning with a top to bottom pattern so that anything that may be wiped down and fall to the floor will be picked up last. Using these patterns and following a protocol that uses floor cleaning as the last step allows site managers to know where staff is in the process and can help with timing and communication with hospital staff waiting for rooms and specific areas to be ready for the next patient.
- Proof of Performance: being able to speak to the work that is done with confidence is important. Due to the ability to monitor machine usage and track progress, cleaners and site managers can speak to Confirmed Clean and assure hospital staff that rooms are clean and ready for patients.
This benefit goes beyond reassuring healthcare workers as the data can be logged, stored, and used to speak to healthcare administrators and stakeholders who are invested in the confirmation of clean spaces. This information can be referenced during any assessments a healthcare facility may go through, and the data can be used for research purposes in the fight against the spread of HAI’s and other communicable diseases.
HOW AUTONOMOUS FLEET MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE CAN HELP
- Increased Efficiency and Productivity: Autonomous floor cleaning equipment, in addition to the benefits laid out above, also helps to deliver increased cleaning due to the simple fact that the equipment can be deployed to work on its own—freeing up cleaning staff to focus on sanitizing and disinfecting.
Cobots, like Whiz, distributed in partnership between ICE Robotics and SoftBank Robotics, can be started with the touch of a button to clean lobby and hallway areas allowing cleaning staff to focus on other higher priority tasks. In this way, cleaning staff can focus on areas that are deemed more crucial to detailed cleaning, but the other areas of the hospital will not suffer.
Beyond that, due to continued software updates, autonomous equipment like Whiz, are readily available for new and improved upgrades. For example, Whiz recently received an update allowing it to be programmed to start on a timer. Updates like this are incredibly important to technology and since Whiz operates on a cloud-based platform, the update happens on its own and requires little to no action by a human. This keeps cleaning staff focused on their job while also giving them access to regularly updated technology with little to no hassle. In a busy environment this is crucial.
Want to learn more? Click for more information: How Intelligent Cleaning Equipment Can Help Hospitals with Confirmed Clean