TSA/DMU survey: Care homes need support to ensure a hygienic laundry solution

31 October 2023

At the Textile Services Association (TSA) Autumn Conference (17-18 October) delegates heard CEO David Stevens speak about the Association’s recently commissioned large care home survey, in partnership with De Montfort University (DMU), which clearly demonstrates that care homes need support to ensure a hygienic laundry solution. The TSA is working with DMU to ensure that training, support and knowledge sharing are developed in partnership for both in-house and outsourced solutions. The objective is for the care home sector to be able to make informed decisions when it comes to laundry operations.    

“In October we did our first overseas care home trip to Brussels, [where the results of the survey were announced]. We had 32 on the two-day trip which was amazing. The first day we visited Clova, in Belgium, an incredible laundry designed to process care home residents’ clothing,” said Stevens. “On the second morning we were joined by three other European laundry operators who specialise in this market.

“We also presented some of the research we have recently done with DMU and our best guestimates at market size.

“We start with the domestic washing research that 70% of machines did not reach the physical parameters to thermally disinfect. And then 50% did not achieve the decontamination requirements. So, unless they have a professional washing facility, this is probably a first point of failure.

“We have recently been asked to join a consultation with the Care Quality Commission (CQC) which is great because at the moment laundry is simply ignored as the survey demonstrates: 

• TSA surveyed 1,000 people (which is a lot, said Stevens)

• 85% do the laundry in house

• 35% of those building a new care home would outsource

“It’s a massive potential market – multiple times bigger than the NHS. They think they do it well but the biggest single complaint issue for a care home is laundry. Although the complaints do not come from the residents but from relatives,” said Stevens.

In September, ahead of the survey’s findings being announced, Stevens told LCNI: “Ninety per cent of Europe’s care homes outsource their laundry. In the UK most care homes process their laundry in-house. The pandemic highlighted the importance of maintaining the strictest hygienic standards in care homes. Outsourcing is more efficient, more sustainable and it ensures that laundering complies with appropriate standards, BS EN 14065 and HTM-01-04. 

“Using commercial laundries provides a simple solution for care homes, ensuring standards are met,” said David Stevens, CEO of the TSA. “Outsourcing can also help alleviate the problems of staff shortages in the sector – and it means care home staff have more time for residents.”  

Coupled with their ability to maintain the highest hygiene standards, commercial laundries are also highly efficient and use fewer resources than the alternative.  On average, a typical in-house care home laundry machine will use 20 to 30 litres of water and consume 3 to 3.5kwh for each kg of washing. A typical commercial laundry uses 3 litres of water and 1.1kwh of power.  

“Commercial laundries already look after a significant proportion of the NHS’s needs,” said Stevens.  “The care home sector is five times the size of the NHS, so it represents a huge potential market for our members.”

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