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Laundry and Infection Prevention

Given the vulnerability of care home residents, it is imperative that operators are fully aware of the importance of hygiene when it comes to both the handling and cleaning of laundry. Here, Amanda Dufrane, Care Segment Manager at Electrolux Professional, explains how the latest technology can ensure a worry-free laundry process for care providers.

Paying due care and attention to laundry processes is absolutely vital in the fight against Healthcare Associated Infections (HCAIs), and the outbreak of infections and diseases. Given that bacteria and viruses can remain active in linen for long periods of time, each stage of the journey must be carefully monitored and validated in order to form a reliable top-layer defence.

Establishing an effective Laundry Cycle Management plan is the first step to achieving this, offering care home managers a validation-based system that tracks the laundry process from the proper packaging and transportation of dirty items via dedicated routes, through to the correct storage of linen once it is clean.

However, even for the most stringent establishments, it can be nigh-on impossible to rule out laundry as the cause of an outbreak without the right technology in place. For full thermal disinfection to take place, we know that a wash cycle must reach 93°C for one minute, 71°C for three minutes, or 65°C for at least ten minutes to satisfy the requirements of CFPP 01-04. Fortunately, the latest laundry equipment should have no problem meeting these requirements.

That being said, in the event a spread of infection does occur, how can an operator be sure that the linen was thermally disinfected without black and white evidence that these temperatures were reached for the necessary length of time? In the past, this has been a difficult question to answer, but there are now a number of tools available to guarantee that linen is being disinfected effectively – thus allowing care homes to rule out laundry as a cause of infection, once and for all.

Proven performance

The simplest of these would be a tool that could validate the wash process, guarantee full hygienic thermal disinfection to each and every wash cycle, and eliminate the risk of infection spreading as a result of varying wash temperatures. Electrolux Professional will be launching a Process Validation tool in May, a plug-in accessory that records and stores data from the entire wash cycle. As well as confirming thermal disinfection has taken place, this allows for complete traceability when it comes to filing reports or audits for the Care Quality Commission (CQC), with all operational and cycle data available for download to USB.

The Process Validation kit even allows care homes to combine safety with savings, by it with our Efficient Dosing solution, which connects directly to a washing machine’s detergent pump and regulates the amount needed. In other words, if the machine is only half full, then half as much water and detergent will also be used.

The question of establishing a safe, effective laundry process is a tricky one for care home managers, and has meant that many are now taking their processes in-house for full peace of mind. With help from the latest laundry technology, care home managers and healthcare providers can ensure that control over laundry means control over hygiene – guaranteeing complete traceability and even lower running costs for those keen to benefit.

For more information on Electrolux Professional’s leading range of laundry solutions, visit www.electrolux.co.uk/professional.

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