By Dan Sullivan, National Compliance Coordinator at NTH Solutions (www.nthsolutions.co.uk)
The last two years have seen a new level of scrutiny on cleanliness and safety in healthcare settings. As a sector, social care takes great care in their cleanliness for residents and staff – having coped amidst a global pandemic and adapting to increasing levels of safety, is testament to this.
It’s one thing for you to know how clean and safe your care home is and to feel assured with the rigorous processes you have in place, it’s another thing to make sure your residents and their loved ones know this.
How clean is clean?
We are fully aware of the importance of infection prevention and control, and the associated hygiene practices required in these settings. So, although the levels of safety have always been a core part of running a healthcare environment, it’s been magnified due to the new world we’re living in. Most nursing and care homes will have a way of monitoring and measuring cleaning methods, but the big question is, how can you prove how clean your site is?
The National Standards of Healthcare Cleanliness 2021 (NSoHC 2021) introduced by NHS England and Improvement are in place to promote a level of consistency across all healthcare settings. The Standards are effectively a tool to outline how healthcare settings can ensure they meet the highest levels of cleanliness for resident, visitor and staff safety.
A core element of the Standards is the introduction of the star rating, a recognised scoring system to easily promote how clean a space is. The star rating result is generated by a standardised and scored audit, so it’s fully evidenced and verified. To the resident and their relatives, this is an easy-to-understand way of knowing and being able to trust the environment they’re in. To the care home provider, it’s recognition for doing the right thing and maintaining excellence in cleanliness, which is supported and recognised by the NHS.
The aim is for all healthcare settings (where NHS care is provided) to have a star rating displayed by November 2022. This is achievable for all social care settings as the Standards offer a way of documenting the day-to-day cleaning and putting in place a consistent quality auditing procedure to formalise what you already do.
It’s a valuable step forward for primary care to maintain the provision of cleanliness, as well as showing how good you are and what sets you apart. If it’s likened to how much we care about food hygiene standards, we all know the level of reassurance it brings when we can see the Food Hygiene Standards Agency rating in our local fish and chip shop, so think of the benefits to have it in a setting where someone is taking care of your loved ones.
Why should it matter?
Maintaining a certain standard of cleanliness is ultimately about patient safety, the proof and peace of mind to residents and visitors (and staff) that it’s a safe environment, knowing it has been audited and then proudly displayed through the approved star rating. There’s no better way to demonstrate your efficiency and commitment to safety than having it for all to see. Why let the hard work go unrecognised?
What may feel like ‘another thing’ for care homes to comply with, is in fact something that should be welcomed. It brings uniformity to cleaning practices and provides you with the reassurance that you are delivering the highest service to your residents.
We urge care home providers to think about where you might need support to implement anything you’re not currently doing. There are organisations that can guide and support you in the implementation and maintenance of high levels of cleanliness, to formalise your existing processes and provide you with the tools to put measures in place to keep you, your staff, residents and visitors safe.
In a Covid-19 era, why wouldn’t you want to give instant and reliable reassurance when walking into your care home?