The world has been hit hard by Covid-19, and the textile care industry, especially in the hospitality sector, has really taken a beating as lockdown impacted. The textile care industry has been an interesting microcosm to observe during Covid-19, as some locations had increased demand, others decreased, while still others remained business as usual.

However, help was at hand as trade body, the Association for Linen Management (ALM) in North America, stepped in to alleviate the situation. No matter where on the demand spectrum they fell, ALM worked to create resources and guidance for everyone in the industry to protect staff, adjust operations, and continue support of customers. ALM is an international, non-profit trade association dedicated to the operational excellence and professional development of personnel involved in the textile care industry, including healthcare, hospitality, correctional facilities, and longterm care providers.

Over the past few months, ALM has provided a series of complimentary webinars, including a town hall discussion with a supply update, affirmation of the continued viability of the wash process, and examples of social distancing on the production floor. Following the town hall, ALM offered a webinar on self-care to help those struggling with stress and anxiety, and another session that addressed the nuances of coming back online after a shut down or slow-down.

Guidance was developed by the association on home washing of scrubs and uniforms, practice recommendations for hotels housing individuals at higher risk of contracting the virus, and wash formulae recommendations for laundering disposable gowns. ALM made all related guidance available to everyone in the industry, regardless of whether they were members of ALM, on its Covid-19 Resources page.

“We are all in this together,” says ALM executive director Linda Fairbanks. “With everything we are facing around the world, ALM is prioritising our ability to provide knowledge, backed by research, to all textile care professionals, ensuring no textiles encountered in a hospital or hotel setting would be a vector, however unlikely, of spreading Covid-19.”

Reduced business volumes and a slower pace, along with the move to remote work environments for many, has resulted in an increased demand for virtual professional development. ALM’s CLLM program, which added an eLearning option in 2019, has become a sought-after resource, as it allows interactive study of the laundry operation and, if desired, CLLM certification credentials can be earned. A second eLearning program on linen management is in development and will be available to the industry in the fourth quarter of 2020.

“To fight Covid-19 effectively, it will take all of us,” said ALM director of education & events Christina Horsley. “By using the latest technology, ALM was already positioned to continue education efforts that mesh perfectly with the ‘new normal’ everyone is adjusting to. It’s the sharing of knowledge and research, regardless of distance dictated by geography or an illness, which will make the textile care industry stronger than ever.” As we settle into that ‘new normal’, ALM is moving forward with education, additional guidance, and specialised committees working to find the answers to questions posed by the industry. Many of those questions and ideas continue to come through the ALM Member Forums, where members have access to an entire industry’s experience and recommendations any time of the day or night.

“By having a small staff size, we are able to remain agile and respond to our members’ needs. We are always listening and working to supply the resources to meet those needs,” said Fairbanks. “That’s precisely why we introduced LaundryMarks in 2019. We kept hearing that our industry needed a benchmarking platform because previous industry-wide printed benchmarking tools are no longer available.”

ALM is the only source for laundry processing benchmarking data through its trade marked LaundryMarks platform, and in keeping with ALM’s efforts to work across the industry, there are no fees to participate in LaundryMarks.

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