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Challenging Issues in Hospital Housekeeping

With trickling takers and steady job-hopping, the healthcare industry is facing heavy attrition and want of trained housekeeping staff. Housekeeping heads of Apollo Hospital and Narayana Hrudayalaya in Bangalore share the manpower challenges and practices adopted in a brief discussion with Vijayalakshmi Sridhar.

toilet-unhygienicLack of trained manpower in housekeeping is a challenge faced across segments. It is more significant in healthcare, as it requires the right mindset and a thorough understanding of hygiene and infection control to work in the exclusive world that involves blood and bodies. Over and above, the housekeeping staff requires certain soft skills to interact with doctors, patients and other customers. Sadly, hospitals today do not enjoy a prerogative or much room to choose their recruits.

The NABL-accredited Apollo Hospitals follow JCA standards and have put down minimum criteria of tenth grade (passed) for semi skilled workers. They are then trained and recruited accordingly. This applies to the ground level staff, executives and supervisors too.

“Everyone, including staff and visitors think hospitals are infectious places. The job of changing this thinking lies in the hands of the housekeeping team. The in-house training at Apollo spans to around 10 hours a week, which begins with a compulsory 20-minute briefing every day. We strive to keep the environment clean and also the patients satisfied,” says Deepak K, Head-Housekeeping, Apollo Hospitals Ltd.

It is different when it comes to Narayana Hrudayalaya, says Shridhar Shetty, Senior Manager-Housekeeping. “We follow a different strategy. A regular feedback is taken from the patients to understand their specific requirements and we work towards delivering them.

“Accordingly, we tweak the services to suit their requirements. This is done during the patients’ stay in the hospital, so that their satisfaction is met with,” adds Shetty.

janitorHospitals follow daily cleaning schedules and also extra cleaning and deep cleaning schedules that are incorporated in the housekeeping routines to maintain a clean and hygienic environment. Even in the outsourced model, the housekeeping staff receive training on the job to suit the needs of the hospital. Many a time, when it is a manpower based contract, the facility service provider tends to put staff on multiple jobs. A ward boy is also called to give a helping hand in other departments when there is more traffic. Hence, housekeeping staff are seen doing multi-tasking rather than doing a single task that they are assigned for. In such cases, the chances of cross contamination is much higher and hygiene as a whole lacks precision.

At Apollo, night time cleaning is scheduled in certain areas, such as the main building where walk-in traffic is high during the day. Certain other areas are cleaned during the lean period, when movement is least. These areas are completely blocked for public use and cleaned thoroughly and meticulously.

As part of the smart public-satisfying strategies adopted by Apollo, a practice of assigning a single person to clean all the general toilets continuously works well as the usage of such toilets are much high during the day. The janitor in charge of public toilet cleaning is confined to this task and is not assigned any other work. Nonetheless, some of the other hospitals that Clean India Journal visited, it has been noticed that lack of supervision, especially with toilet cleaning, has led to the failure of this strategy.

Deepak-K

Housekeepers who work in hospitals must know about the quality and the quantity/extent of hygiene that is observed there and the SOPs too.

– Deepak K

Many a time, the cleaning done is very superficial which makes the toilet unhygienic. In some cases, the janitor returns to clean periodically instead of being stationed permanently in the toilet area. Moreover, the methods of cleaning being more manual, using just a mop, hygiene is sacrified in the name of cleaning. The mop used to dry the toilet floor is also used for mopping outside the toilet.

Lack of trained manpower in housekeeping is a challenge faced across segments. It is more significant in healthcare, as it requires the right mindset and a thorough understanding of hygiene and infection control to work in the exclusive world that involves blood and bodies. Over and above, the housekeeping staff requires certain soft skills to interact…

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