Healthcare associated infection rates are declining, but the figures show much still needs to be done to tackle the issue. Paul Swift, business development manager at Berendsen UK, explains how a culture of cleanliness and the use of a complete, cost-effective microfibre mop solution, including rental and laundering, can help achieve optimal standards of hygiene on ward floors.

berendsenpic1More than 300,000 patients are affected by a healthcare associated infection (HCAI) because as result of hospital care in England every year. These conditions, including superbugs such as MRSA and C. diff, are having a huge impact on both healthcare providers and patients., with studies reporting that between 5.1% and 11.6% of hospitalised patients will acquire at least one HCAI. Experts believe that the burden of such infections is costing the NHS more than £1 billion annually.

The infection rate is falling compared with previous years, but it is believed that anywhere from 20% to 40% of HCAIs currently occurring are preventable through the adoption of best practice protocols. Good hygiene, ward cleanliness and the appropriate use of antibiotics, in particular, can significantly cut the risk of HCAIs, while bolstering patient confidence.

Indeed, a culture of cleanliness is a must, with thorough and regular cleaning procedures to prevent the build-up of organisms being critical in the fight against HCAIs. This is, particularly since it is shown that C. diff spores can survive on hard surfaces for as long as five months.

However, not all cleaning products and tools are made equal and enhanced cleanliness requires sophisticated technology and services. In particular, microfibre materials are widely recommended for use in hospitals. as research has proven their ability to raise levels of both aesthetic and microbiological cleanliness, while reducing the likelihood of cross-contamination as part of an integrated cleaning programme.

Essentially, microfibre mops and cloths, which are also endorsed by the Government, have a different structure to conventional woven materials. They are made of a densely constructed polyester and polyamide fibre that is woven together to create a net-like surface area that traps moisture, dirt and microscopic biological debris.

Laboratory and ward tests indicate that microfibre mops consistently outperform traditional mops in terms of their ability to remove bacteria from hospital surfaces. The nylon component of their make-up produces a static charge that attracts debris, collecting up to 99.9% of bacteria and dirt, whereas traditional wet mop cleaning results in only a 30% reduction in bacteria. Microfibre mops also use less water – typically 1.5 litres are needed per 250m2 of floor space – which can eliminate the residue on which bacteria thrive. Their flexible fibres can reach into invisible crevices that are inaccessible to conventional cotton cloth mops.

The use of microfibre mops in hospitals can also deliver more cost effective cleaning performances by comparison with conventional disposable materials, with studies suggesting that traditional mops cost up to three times as much as microfibre alternatives over the product’s lifetime. However, moving to microfibre mop systems can involve start-up costs as equipment including trolleys and the mops themselves need to be purchased.

However, these start-up costs can be avoided by working with an experienced textile services provider offering a rental and laundering solution, such as Berendsen.

This service means that hospitals can enjoy the benefits of microfibre mops, while reducing their capital expenditure for the equipment, which is purchased by the service provider. All the necessary hardware is provided, while the microfibre mop heads are typically washed in colour-specified net bags that are sealed at the hospital and returned clean and econtaminated.

Of course, such providers should be compliant with the CFPP 01:04 best practice guidelines on infection control. Berendsen is certified to the BS EN 14065 laundry processed textiles biocontamination control system, the highest European standard in this area.

In addition, leading textile services providers can assess the volume of mops required to meet a hospital’s exact needs, ensuring that sufficient mops are in the system to meet peaks in demand.

berendsenpic2Alongside the tools, the right firm will design and implement a reliable, customised collection and delivery schedule, which can be managed through sophisticated online portals, reducing the burden of supplies management on the hospital. Full training and aftercare support can be expected as standard, while large-scale suppliers also provide peace of mind for service delivery and contingency as they have the back-up support of ancillary laundry facilities nationwide.

Slashing the rate of HCAIs remains high on the agenda for the healthcare sector. Infection control can be improved and consistently high standards of ward hygiene can be achieved in hospitals through simple processes such as hand hygiene programmes.and by introducing innovative solutions such as microfibre mopping to enhances floor cleanliness. By partnering with a leading supplier and launderer of high performance microfibre mops, such as Berendsen, hospitals can be confident that that they are taking an important step towards controlling the risks. That is the key to providing a clean and safe environment for patients.

For further information on Berendsen, visit berendsen.co.uk or call 0800 612 7237.