As many of you know, Bug Control environmental infection prevention and control (IP&C) audits assess where there are gaps in infection prevention practices, then recommend and help put in place measures/actions to remedy the gaps. You can imagine that this leads to some pretty interesting situations.

Even though I have carried out many environmental IP&C audits, it never ceases to amaze me how staff don’t see, and/or can’t be bothered to thoroughly clean, resident equipment. Do they really want their residents standing on the platform of a standing hoist that is covered with dust and disgusting, unidentifiable substances?? If you look at the photo, these substances are firmly baked on this standing hoist platform; it must not have been cleaned for months.

Funny though, when I asked the staff when it was last cleaned, I was told it is cleaned between each use, and before it is stored away. Well, that is the correct answer of course – back here in reality, however, I’m not sure. I pointed out all the dust and baked on grime to the staff, and they looked bemused and told me it was wiped down with a detergent wipe. To this I respond with, “Perhaps it needs cleaning more thoroughly now that the grime is so firmly attached to the platform where the residents place their feet.”

They didn’t have much to say to that.

Remedies for environmental cleaning gaps

Once we have identified gaps in environmental cleaning practices through an audit, we need to remedy those gaps, and that is through thorough and effective cleaning. When equipment is this filthy (yes, I use that word!) detergent wipes are not going to cut the mustard! Cleaning is all about the correct TGA-approved detergent and method/technique of cleaning. The only way to clean the equipment is to clean it using detergent and water, and a lot of friction, you know, use your muscles a bit (elbow grease is TGA-approved)!

Another method for cleaning the standing hoist is for it to be wheeled outside for the maintenance staff to clean with a water pressure washer. Of course, whatever method of cleaning is used, the equipment needs to be thoroughly dried, as you don’t want it to become rusty. You can’t effectively clean rusty equipment either; it needs to be replaced.

Surely it’s just a standing hoist?

I know, I know. I can hear you wondering ‘why is she banging on about cleaning the equipment?’ Well apart from the fact that it looks disgusting, dust and other contamination harbour germs.

As we’ve mentioned before, viruses, bacteria and moulds live in dust and on the surfaces of equipment. For instance, MRSA can live outside the body in dust and on surfaces for hours, days or even weeks.

So while this might just be a dirty standing hoist, it shows that cleaning isn’t being taken seriously. Environmental cleaning is an essential part of standard precautions, which are work practices that constitute the first-line approach to infection prevention and control in all healthcare settings. As such, the way to ensure environmental cleaning is being done thoroughly and effectively is to audit the methods and processes of cleaning.

In situations like the one discussed here, staff were sure they were doing the right thing, even though it was clear that it wasn’t being done properly. If you, or your facility staff, need an outside perspective on just how effective your cleaning practices are, contact Bug Control today to book an IP&C audit. Your residents will be glad you did.