Mark Drinkall, Christeyns professional hygiene national sales manager, reminds us of best practice in a Care Home laundry, stressing that there will never be a more critical time for ensuring good practice in on premise laundries (OPL).
Running a safe, efficient and effective laundry is as critical as running a safe, efficient and effective kitchen in any care home, never more than in current circumstances.
Every step of the process from collection of dirty laundry from a bedroom to the return of clean, hygienic laundry to that bedroom should be organised and controlled.
Christeyns has been supporting care homes for many years via our trusted partners, using expertise in application and practical training to pass on our wealth of experience in laundry technology and disinfection. As the care industry copes with one of its most challenging periods yet, it is crucial that best practice is consistently adhered to in all aspects of care home operation, every day with every process.
Staff: It is recommended that staff should change into uniforms at the site rather than travelling from home in them, and that the uniforms are laundered to the appropriate standard in the controlled environment of the on-site laundry. It is, however, recognised that this may not be possible in all homes. All practical steps to ensure that staff uniforms are hygienic when in use and do not present a contamination risk inside or outside the home must be taken.
All staff should wear appropriate PPE when handling linen, particularly foul or infected linen, and when handling laundry chemicals. Follow the guidance provided by statutory bodies and on the packaging of the chemicals.
Your machine and /or chemical supplier should be happy to provide training to ensure that staff are aware of how to get the best out of equipment, promote efficiency and ensure safety standards are met.
Rooms: Ensure that all linen which is, or is suspected to be, foul or infected is placed into a soluble red bag and then sealed in a non-permeable bag before it leaves the bedroom. It should be transported directly to the laundry. Any solids should be removed from the laundry before it is placed in the soluble bag.
Keep clean and dirty laundry separate and ensure that there can be no transfer of infection from dirty to clean linen, washing hands and using clean PPE where appropriate.
Transport and Storage: Have separate storage and transport arrangements for clean and used laundry, ensure these are cleaned regularly.
Housekeeping in the Laundry: Keep the machines, floors, trolleys and surfaces clean.
If a water softener is in use ensure that it is functioning correctly, hard water will cause results problems and damage the washers over time.
Have separate containers or trolleys for soiled linen and clean linen.
Do not open red bags before they go into the washer.
Never store or leave laundry on the floor, it is unhygienic and will result in footprint stains which cannot be removed.
Report any faults with machines immediately.
Never leave hot linen unattended or overnight, it might cause a fire. Ensure that linen is below body temperature before leaving unattended.
Handle and store clean linen hygienically.
Dosing Systems: Ensure that dosing pumps are working. Report any faults immediately.
Is the light or screen on, do they operate during every process?
Are there any leaks, are the drums going down, do they need replacing, is the correct drum on the correct tube? Check drums daily.
Always wear gloves and eye protection when handling the chemicals. Never mix chemicals.
Ensure that an appropriate stock of all the laundry chemicals is maintained to eliminate the risk that you will run out. Even running out of one chemical will negatively impact the washing results.
Washers: Do not significantly overload or underload the washers or dryers, this will cause results problems and may damage the machines.
Make sure that the appropriate wash process and dosing program is selected, paying particular attention to making sure that foul and infected linen is processed on a disinfection program.
If possible, wash dark and light items separately.
Do not attempt to shorten a wash process by advancing the machine, it will impact upon results and may cause skin irritation for staff or customers.
Use a prewash when required. Select a de-stainer process for any stained linen.
Never use fabric conditioner on kylies or microfibres. Never put starch and conditioner in the same process.
Dryers: Load to the rated capacity of the dryer where possible. Do not overload as it will decrease efficiency.
Select a cool down option where appropriate, particularly on polycottons.
Never over-dry linen, this causes static build up, drives off conditioner perfume and wastes energy.
Do not leave dried laundry in the dryer at any time as it poses a fire hazard.
When removing linen from the dryer smoothing and folding it immediately and while still warm will result in a better finish and reduce the need for ironing.
Clean the lint trap on a daily basis, otherwise it may become a fire hazard.
Running an efficient and effective on premise laundry can give care homes peace of mind and a seamless supply of clean, hygienic linen. However, it must be well managed around strict guidelines and with staff who are kept up to date and knowledgeable about the important role they play in keeping everyone safe and sound.