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Clean bill of health

Clean bill of health

In this feature Pulse takes some advice from the experts about the latest laundry equipment, processes, management and how to achieve the best results.

A report published this month (November 2017) by the Textile Services Association (TSA), highlights the scale and importance of the laundry service within healthcare. “Without laundry an acute Trust wouldn’t last more than a day,” says Steven Everett from the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Trust in the report.

The TSA calculates that in the UK the average admitted overnight patient remains in hospital for seven nights and there are around 46,000 admissions every day in NHS England alone, which means over 130 million bed changes across the organisation every year.
Although the number of hospital beds may have fallen, patient throughput has increased with procedures that may have required at the very least an overnight stay in hospital now being completed in a day. Greater patient throughput increases the requirement for clean bed linen even further.

The TSA reports that small and industrial-sized laundry firms decontaminate 13 million sheets and scrubs every week to keep England’s 142,000 hospital beds free from infection and guarantee patient safety. That’s a lot of laundry.

However, not all hospitals outsource their laundry services; some choose to operate their own in-house facilities. Electrolux Professional offers laundry services to customers around the world. Amanda Symmons, Care Segment Manager at Electrolux Professional UK, argues that in-house brings greater flexibility and other operational benefits.

“The demand for clean laundry in the healthcare sector means everything from bed linen to towels and gowns need to be cleaned and ready to use again as soon as possible. Achieving this involves a series of finely balanced timings and specific processes, which can be scary for many ops managers we speak to. In contrast, having access to an on-premises laundry enables operators to manage the entire process - leading to not only quicker turnaround times and cost savings, but inherently reducing the risk that anything can go wrong in transit.”
One of the most important processes to control with an in-house laundry is the prevention of cross-contamination, to ensure that linen, once clean, is not re-infected.

“One of the safest ways of preventing cross-contamination is adopting a barrier washing system. Barrier washers are built so that items are loaded from one side of the machine when dirty and unloaded from a separate, clean side when the wash cycle is complete. This eliminates the need for operators to re-enter an unhygienic environment, minimising the risk of linen being re-contaminated once it has been cleaned.”

Destroying bacteria
Washing at high temperatures is one of the easiest and most effective ways of killing potentially harmful microbes. “Many of the latest commercial washing machines come with dedicated thermal disinfection programmes to make the process much easier for busy healthcare staff. However, because these temperature requirements are incredibly precise, it’s vital that healthcare establishments are able to put faith in their laundry equipment and know that a wash cycle has done its job.”
For this reason, Electrolux Professional has developed Temp°Check, a new tool designed to help operators validate the laundry process. Compatible with the full range of new and existing machines from Electrolux Professional, Temp°Check is a game-changing device which allows operators to check that thermal disinfection has taken place, and ensure their facility is at its most efficient, both economically and procedurally.

However, this is not the end of the story. Each stage of the journey must be effectively managed if linen is to truly remain harmless. In order to help operators with the full laundry process, Electrolux Professional has developed its own Laundry Cycle Management system. The eight-step process gives operators detailed help with each stage of the journey - explaining how linen should be collected, transported, washed, dried, packed and ultimately stored once clean. All of this information is available on the company’s website.
Barrier system in operation

One recent example of a barrier system installation by Electrolux Professional is at the £9.5m Belong Warrington care village, home to 72 residents, where two Electrolux Professional WB5180H Barrier Washing Machines are key features to avoid any risk of bacterial contamination in the laundry.

Just having the right machines in place is not sufficient; it is also important for all operators to follow a strict process. At Belong Warrington, housekeepers are required to wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) at the correct times, in order to further minimise the chances of re-contamination. This means donning aprons and disposable gloves whilst handling dirty laundry, and removing them before an operator enters the clean room.

The clean linen is emptied into a basket and transferred to two T5550 tumble dryers.  Items are then finished using the Electrolux bed type ironer, whilst an ironing table helps to deliver a neat finish for garments requiring extra attention.

Changing between cycles for soiled/infected items, which require a very high temperature wash, and more delicate items that need a lower temperature, can be done at the touch of a button.

Removing stains
Repeat washing is the enemy of every laundry operation and difficult stains are the biggest cause. It follows that pre-wash stain removal should be part of every laundry operator’s efforts to eliminate re-washes and maintain quality, performance and productivity. As part of its comprehensive laundry solutions - comprising products, systems and consultancy - Diversey offers a set of highly effective spot stain removers in its innovative Clax Magic range that are suitable for almost every type of stain and fabric.

Repeat washing restricts efficiency and productivity because valuable equipment must be used again to complete a job that ideally should be done right first time. It can reduce productivity and the overall capacity of the laundry which can be particularly critical when the operation is working at or near to full capacity. This can cause delays in making fresh linen available which can compromise patient care and the work of housekeeping staff. In turn this can lead to negative perceptions, feedback and satisfaction ratings.

Putting fabrics through a second wash also has a major impact on costs, not just of water and fabric care products, but also energy and the people overseeing the work. Linen replacement costs can also increase if items are washed more often than necessary because it shortens their lifetime.

The need for repeat washing can even arise in laundries with the best equipment, processes and fabric care products. Perhaps the biggest cause is heavy staining by substances that are difficult to remove during a normal wash cycle. Typical culprits include make-up, ink, curry, coffee, rust spots, blood, food and grass.

Items arriving in the laundry should be sorted and checked for stains. When no stains are found, items can be laundered immediately to maintain efficient machine utilisation. However, when stains are found the items can be treated with a suitable spot remover before they are washed.

Diversey offers a complete set of Clax Magic spot removers that are suitable for almost every type of stain and fabric: Clax Magic Multi is a multipurpose formulation that is ideal for stains such as make-up, ink and curry; Clax Magic Oxi is a colour-safe formulation for bleachable stains such as coffee, tea, cola and fruit juices; Clax Magic Rust is specially formulated for the removal of discolouring caused by rust, tannin and similar substances; Clax Magic Protein contains a combination of surfactants and enzymes for the removal of blood, food, grass and other stains containing proteins.

These four innovative formulations remove stains quickly, effectively and gently. Generally, the product is applied directly to the stain and left for between five and ten minutes before rinsing and then undergoing a normal wash cycle in the machine. This short treatment time helps prevent delays and bottlenecks in the laundry.

Products in the Clax Magic range are supplied in convenient pack sizes as ready-to-use super concentrates to promote sustainability. The use of concentrates ensures more active formulation is contained in any given volume which helps to reduce pack sizes. Ultimately this reduces chemical miles, storage and handling burdens as well as packaging waste.