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Infection Control in hospitals is gaining importance with increasing stress on safe patient healthcare. Consequently, responsibilities for the infection control practioners is increasing and improving awareness and compliance among the healthcare providers is a strong priority in the hospital. The infection control team is a small activity group which is concerned with surveillance, prevention and control of infection in the hospital. In the chain of infection, the mode of transmission is the easiest link to break and is the key to control of cross-infection in hospitals. Infection control and prevention include: Hand washing, standard precautions, decontamination and proper disinfection of items and surfaces, proper handling and segregation of bio-medical waste and proper handling and processing of linen.

Role of housekeeping in infection control

  1. Classifying the different hospital areas by varying need for cleaning
  2. Developing policies for appropriate cleaning techniques
  3. Procedure, frequency, agents used, etc., for each type of room, from highly contaminated to the most clean and ensuring that these practices are followed
  4. Developing policies for collection, transport and disposal of different types of waste
  5. Ensuring that liquid soap and paper towel dispensers are replenished regularly
  6. Informing the maintenance service of any building problems requiring repair
  7. Caring for flowers and plants in public area
  8. Pest Control
  9. Providing appropriate training for all new staff members and periodically for other employees, specific training when a new technique is introduced
  10. Establish methods for the cleaning and disinfection of bedding (e.g. Mattress, pillows)
  11. Determining the frequency for the washing of curtains, screening curtains between beds, etc.
  12. Reviewing plans for renovations or new furniture, including special patient beds to determine feasibility of cleaning.

Cleaning Methods

Cleaning should begin with the least soiled area and move to the most soiled area. Cleaning should progress from high to low surfaces. Work should either proceed clockwise or anti-clockwise from the starting point.

Walls, windows and doors, including door handles should be spot cleaned as needed and cleaned completely on a regular schedule. Room cleaning done twice a day. Horizontal surfaces, including tables, beds, chairs, ledges, lights and wall fixtures, should be wiped with a clean cloth dampened with disinfectant daily. Curtains should be changed and cleaned as per the schedule and when soil is apparent. Bathrooms should be cleaned every day. Ceramic tiles and other hard surfaces should be free of mould.

Housekeeping is responsible for replenishment of hand wash. Only liquid hand wash is used in clinical areas. Reusable containers should be emptied, cleaned ad dried before they are refilled.

Role of Laundry

  • Developing criteria for selection of site for laundry service
  • Ensuring appropriate flow of linen, separation of “clean” and “dirty” areas
  • Recommending washing conditions (e.g. temperature, duration)
  • Ensuring safety of laundry staff through prevention of exposure to sharps or laundry contaminated with potential pathogens

In a healthcare facility, all staff should be trained in safe practices. General precautions should be followed by all staff while collecting and segregating the linen and they should wear gloves while handling soiled linen. Soiled linen should be bagged, put into carts and removed from wards. Linen soiled with patients’ blood or body fluids is collected in water-soluble bags.

Riya Ipe, Senior Executive-Housekeeping (Chennai),
Faber Sindoori Management Services Pvt Ltd

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