What Role Do Cleaning Pros Play in Healthcare Facilities’ Patient Care?

Truthfully, cleaning professional play whatever role you decide they should play.

However, before you make any decisions, you should understand their importance to your patients’ health.

It’s easy to look at cleaning professionals and think they don’t have as much education and therefore don’t have a big effect on your patients’ health.

But they actually play an important and underappreciated role.

Here’s some points to consider the critical nature of skilled cleaning pros and thoroughly documented sanitization processes at your healthcare facility:

1. Cleaning Pros Save Lives Because HAIs Kill More Patients than Car Crashes or Breast Cancer

Somewhere around 75,000 – 100,000 people die each year because of preventable affections they acquire at healthcare facilities. In particular, that involves hospitals.

The data gets collected from more than 3,000 hospitals who report such infections to the CDC. To ensure data quality, the CDC also weeds out cases where patients may have had infections prior to admission.

In other words, that means the 75,000 – 100,000 deaths are a conservative number.

Does your healthcare facility have tested, documented processes known to minimize HAIs? Do you measure the effectiveness of the sanitation products you use? And do you have cleaning pros who understand this and take their jobs seriously?

Other factors play a role (including handwashing). But, cleaning pros clearly have a huge role in preventing the spread of HAIs.

2. Patient Satisfaction is Strongly Related to Cleaning Pros’ Tasks

During a patients’ stay, whether just for an hour or for several weeks, environmental factors frequently play a large overall role in patient satisfaction.

Cleanliness readily apparent to the senses, lighting, noise level, temperature, aesthetic beauty, working equipment, and the comfort of furniture all affect your patients’ experience.

All these smaller things add up, resulting in the patients’ overall satisfaction level. And it’s important to monitor and fine-tune each one for the best care possible.

3. Your Facilities Manager Affects Clinical Staff Moreso Than Anyone Else

Your team may not have a direct impact on staff. But your indirect impact certainly makes a difference to nurses and doctors.

Properly maintained equipment helps staff feel comfortable they can deliver the best level of service to patients. Having supplies at the ready keeps staff calm and relaxed, knowing they can always do their job. An efficient building and room layout makes providing the service easy.

Simple fixes like securing handrails can mean the difference between staying healthy – and falling, breaking a bone, and either a longer, costlier stay or possibly the death of the patient.

Does your facilities team, cleaning team, or janitorial team, however you think of them, save lives simply by doing their jobs?

Yes. And their work and how it affects your patients is something worth studying and continually improving.

The Differences Between Buffing and Burnishing

When cleaning pros talk about buffing and burnishing, they often mean the same thing. That’s what makes these two processes so confusing if you’re not already familiar with both.

In both processes, you do use a floor machine to remove the top layer of wax. So at a high level, you may actually say both processes are the same.

But when you dig down into the details of each, they do have some key differences. Those include:

1. The Speed of the Machine

Burnishing works at a much faster speed than buffing. The former’s increased speed can be used to actually give your floor a wet look, which goes over quite well with visitors unfamiliar with the process.

In the past, burnishing could get so aggressive it would actually leave a powdery residue on your floor. Cleaning pros today know how to account for that so it doesn’t happen.

To give your floor the wet look, burnishers also have far more complex engines that operate at higher speeds than buffers.

2. Both Machines Operate Differently

Buffers aren’t as heavy and challenging to operate as burnishers. A floor buffer simply looks like a vacuum with a larger body and wide handlebars.

Burnishers’ heavier weight helps them provide that wet look for your floor.

While buffers operate in a rotary fashion, going in circles from side to side, burnishers work in a straight line.

3. Buffing Doesn’t Offer as Impressive of a Final Look

Skeptical about the amazing final look you can get from a burnisher? Rent one out once and compare its work to that of a buffer.

While buffers do give you a clean glossy look, burnishers sometimes totally blow customers away. It probably depends on how easy you are to impress. But in general, most people will find a burnished look on their floor far more attractive.

4. Save Time and Money with Burnishing

You’d think that because you get a more desirable result with burnishing, that it would require a greater time and money investment. Strangely enough, it’s actually the opposite.

Burnishing takes not just a little, but way less time to do than buffing. That saves you time. And it also saves you money because you can use that labor time saved to do other work.

So if you haven’t understood burnishing, now you have a working knowledge of why it could make sense for you. Keep it in mind the next time you have to restore the look of one of your floors.

4 Myths and Misunderstandings about Mops

Believe it or not, mops can be just as responsible for spreading bacteria as they are for removing it.

That is, only if you continue to act in ways that fit with these mopping myths:

1. Myth #1: Mops Don’t Spread Soil

Mops can spread soil. Several studies have found this true over the past several decades.

To prevent this from happening, you must make sure your mop head remains wet (not just damp). You also need to inspect it for the amount of soil it currently holds.

If your mop head remains too loaded with soil, simply change out to a new one.

2. Myth #2: Soaking Your Mop Overnight Kills Most of the Germs and Bacteria Holds

This one depends on how you do the decontamination. To do it properly, you should first shake out or vacuum the dust off your mop head. Then wash it in the washer, and be sure to use a netted bag if your mop requires one.

You don’t need to use bleach when washing your mop head. Simply use a gentle detergent and hot water. Then hang the mop up to dry overnight.

3. Using More Disinfectant in Your Cleaning Solution Improves Your Mop’s Germ-Killing Power

Using more disinfectant than recommended actually reduces the disinfecting potency of your mop.

This happens as a result of “quat binding.” That term’s short for “quaternary ammonium chloride,” the active ingredient in many cleaning disinfectants. “Quat” has positively charged ions that naturally attract to the negatively charged ions in the fabric of your mop.

So, whenever you mix a cleaning solution, mix to the ratios recommended by the manufacturer.

4. Mopping Floors Improves Your Shoulder Muscles

The truth is you only experience more pain and discomfort as a result of the repetitive motion. This happens throughout your shoulders and back.

If you want to spare yourself from that pain, use autoscrubbers or go to the gym and exercise those muscle areas regularly.

Advocate for your employer to provide a monthly reimbursement for a gym membership if you need to!

Did any of these mopping myths surprise you?

Now you know the truth behind them so you truly do the best work every time you mop your customers’ floors.

Top 3 Trends Expected to Affect the Cleaning Industry in 2018

What’s moving the cleaning industry forward in 2018?

Don’t waste any time and find out:

1. Technology Will Be Used to Streamline and Optimize Processes

To stay competitive in 2018, you’ll have to adapt to the abundance of apps and software available.

Every cleaning company or team will look slightly different.

However, you may use apps to make online payment possible. Or, you may add your customers to an app that allows them to communicate with your team and get job updates. You might also use software to keep your own cleaning team apprised of the job’s status. Customers would also like estimates available online.

Look for ways you can offer more convenient service for your customers and streamline your own operations.

2. Increased Expectations for Employees

Historically, you may have thought of the cleaning industry as one with high turnover. You may believe not many people join the profession with the idea of creating a career.

You can certainly treat your cleaning team in whatever way you see most fitting. However, because of the increasing complexity of the profession and how much you need to learn to succeed, you can easily turn the job into a career.

Employees are beginning to expect that now. But, you’ll have to offer increased wages and benefits to reflect that.

3. The Pressure to Keep Service Levels High And Costs Low Remains

This trend certainly won’t go away this year. And it might be the reason why so many cleaning teams continue to integrate technology where possible to improve operational efficiency.

It continues to happen even though cleaning is shifting from a nice-to-have to a need-to-have.

If you think about it, it fits nicely with the previous trend of turning cleaning into a career.

You’ll only be able to create high levels of service and keep prices low with skilled and experienced staff.

Is your company or cleaning team positioned to include these trends in your operations?

If so, you can expect to have a successful year!

How Do You Remain a Top-Notch Cleaning Pro?

There’s no doubt that being a cleaning professional in modern society takes far more knowledge, skill, and desire than before. Back in the day, if you could make a room look clean, you did your job. Now you have intense downward pressure from management to get the same amount cleaned in less time. And you have upward pressure from customers, who want nothing less than a perfectly sanitized space.

Although many get started in cleaning just to make ends meet for now, they end up sticking with the profession for years because they realize the intense professionalism it takes to succeed.

So, with that in mind, how do you keep your skills sharp so you don’t fall behind the curve?

Here’s what:

1. Find What Truly Motivates You about Cleaning

It’s difficult to keep your motivation in cleaning, or in any profession, if it just amounts to a paycheck and something to do. True motivation comes from focusing on deeper, underlying desires.

For example, you may enjoy seeing how elated customers get when they see the job you’ve done. You enjoy being of service to others and helping them get what they want.

Or, you may love the sophisticated science and challenge of sanitizing large facilities. Or, you might like showing your management the business results you deliver, like reduced employee sicknesses and absences due to your team’s work.

You’ll have to discover what truly drives you. And it may change over time as you get deeper into the profession.

2. Improve At Least One Little Step Each Day

Nothing gets more boring in life than doing the same old thing each day, getting basically the same ol’ results.

Regardless of your position on the cleaning team, focus on what you can do better daily.

How can you do your job faster, without sacrificing work quality? What new product could you try that sanitizes, and reduces the chances of sickness? What simple extra can you toss in to make your customer happier?

Many cleaning pros get stuck in the same old routine. If you focus on small innovations daily, you’ll easily find yourself near the top of the pack.

That makes your job, or business, more secure.

Staying at your best isn’t easy. It takes hard work and constantly pushing yourself outside your comfort zone. But, you’ll love your work and getting up ready to start each new day if you maintain that focus.

Understanding Active And Passive Odor Control

Restroom odors can be a huge business killer if customers come into your store. If you run an office with employees only, then you get complaints and reduced work performance.

With the traffic your restroom gets, it can be difficult to control the unpleasant odors that come out as a result.

So, let’s talk about some of the common issues with passive and active odor control. But first, let’s define each:

  1. Active odor control involves using battery-operated dispensers with fans or propellants that push the odor-eater into the air
  2. Passive systems simply rely on natural air movement to do the hard work

1. Active Aerosol-Based Dispensers

Because these dispensers rely on a propellant to deliver their scent, they should be placed in a central area, about 10 feet from the floor. They need to be placed high on the wall because their scent will hang in the air for about 12 minutes or so, and the higher placement allows the scented particles the most time to do their work. Otherwise, they fall to the floor, and part of their life goes to waste.

You also don’t want them to spray someone in the face. And they should be situated so they don’t spray all over the floor, discoloring it or causing it to be a slipping hazard.

2. Passive Dispensers

The molecules diffused into the air from a passive dispenser are actually lighter than air and hang around in the air much longer. But, the trade-off is they don’t provide as large of an area of coverage or as potent of a scent as aerosol.

Because they rely on air movement to disburse their scent, passive dispensers should be situated near opening and closing doors. That draft will distribute their scent. Typically, this suits them best for smaller restrooms.

You May Need to Combine Active and Passive Odor Control

Some restrooms may be too large for even an active dispenser to accommodate. That’s where passive dispensers can silently come to the rescue.

You simply have to plan out odor control based jointly on science and your own preference.

HAI Risk Falls 22% in US Hospitals

The risk for acute-care hospital patients to get an HAI has decreased 22% from 2011 to 2015.

However, this comes as a bit of a mixed blessing, as most of the reduction in HAIs was due to reductions in surgical site infections.

Risks of other conditions such as pneumonia remain almost unchanged.

In other words, healthcare institutions still have work to do in making their facilities cleaner and more sanitary. Currently, the CDC says 1.7 million Americans get an HAI each year, with 99,000 resulting in patient deaths. It also leads to $20 billion in additional healthcare costs.

How can your professional healthcare organization prevent HAIs?

Here’s what you can do:

  • Make It an Organization-Wide Strategic Initiative

Other patients, medical professionals, and your building itself can all transmit HAIs to your patients.

Typically, there’s not a single cause of HAIs at any one healthcare organization. Hand hygiene frequently plays a role, so it should be near the top of your list of things to address.

But, other factors like how you contact patients, the frequency of doing so, and your decontamination processes play a role too.

You have to analyze all these factors and processes, and design and implement ones that mitigate the risks yours have traditionally caused.

  • Measure And Understand Your Current Baseline

This one won’t be easy. But, you must have a method for knowing your current patient HAI rate to the best of your ability.

You can only improve if you know what’s happening right now.

Then, determine when you’ll follow up in the future with measuring. This most likely would be on an annual basis, or perhaps less frequently.

  • Simple Things You Can Check and Implement

That National Institutes of Mental Health offers a handbook that offers basics on preventing HAIs.

This includes the proper use of personal protective equipment. This also includes proper removal when leaving areas where patients are cared for. They note that during the 2003 outbreak of SARS in Canada, 44% affected employees. Just 9 had formal infection control training. 13 didn’t know how to wear or remove their PPE. 6 reused medical equipment. 8 had awareness of a breach of infection control precautions.

Finally, despite all the education health care workers have, they frequently don’t adhere to infection control precautions.

Knowledge Really Is Power…and So Is Training

For the most part, it boils down to really simple stuff with HAIs. Yes, it’s hard to implement and enforce procedures across many employees.

But it saves lives, makes patients happier, saves you money, and improves your reputation.

So take these tips to heart, and talk with your health care workers and cleaning team to create a plan that nearly eliminates the risk of HAIs for your patients.

How Cleaning Boosts Productivity

It’s easy to think sanitizing and cleaning your facility is done only to make it look and smell good. You might do this to improve your employees’ safety a little too.

But if that’s where you stop valuing cleaning of your facility, you’re missing out on one of the most important benefits of keeping it clean: increased employee productivity. There’s no doubt a relationship exists, but it often gets overlooked.

Psychologist Fredrick Herzberg studied workplace motivators throughout the 1950s and 1960s to understand what leads to employee satisfaction. To figure it out, he simply asked employees what made them feel good and bad about their jobs.

Their responses led to the creation of his Motivation-Hygiene Theory. This is also called the “Two Factor Theory.” Herzberg also published a famous article – that still gets incredible respect today: “One More Time: How Do You Motivate Employees?”

How Your Workplace’s Physical Condition Affects Productivity

Herzberg developed a list of factors that affect satisfaction:

  • Achievement
  • Recognition
  • The work itself
  • Responsibility
  • Advancement
  • Growth

And he found factors that affect dissatisfaction:

  • Supervision
  • Employee relationships with coworkers and their supervisor
  • Work conditions
  • Salary
  • Status
  • Security

As you can see, the physical work environment would likely fall under the “work conditions” criterion.

You Have A Mission-Critical Service to Perform for Your Company

Don’t feel motivated to keep your building clean and do your best work? Whether your company recognizes it or not, you perform a service vital to your company’s success when you clean your building to pristine condition.

You make employees feel cared for. They appreciate the place they come to and spend 40, 50, or 60 hours per week, or even more.

What if you don’t get the respect you feel you deserve? It’s time to start educating your coworkers and leadership about the difference you make to your company.

When your building is clean, customers become happier too. They buy more. They feel like you care about them. They’re more likely to tell their friends and family about your business, and they’ll likely come back to you again in the future.

Do you sanitize your building also? That is, do you do more than just make your building smell fresh and look clean? Do you do everything possible to remove more germs, bacteria, and viruses, and keep your coworkers from getting sick?

Does your leadership have awareness of what you do?

You do provide a mission-critical service, and it’s one that no one else in your company can do also. If they don’t think so, it’s time to start explaining to your coworkers and leadership the difference you make, how it affects them, and how you improve your company’s bottom line.

You do make a huge difference, and it’s one that nobody in your company can afford to overlook.

3 Trends Shaping the Future of the Cleaning Industry

You may not think of the cleaning and janitorial industry as one on the cutting edge of technology. But it’s going to be in a few major ways.

And to some extent, these future trends are already shaping how the industry works. Here’s the new trends you should consider:

The Cleaning Robot Market will be a $2.5 Billion Industry by 2020

This data comes from research published by MarketsandMarkets. The annual growth rate will be around 15.3%.

This shouldn’t come as a big surprise. Robotics and automation are growing industries. Robots are becoming sophisticated enough to perform simple tasks in other industries, like fast food. And the same trends will come to the cleaning industry.

Will you replace your human staff? Will you hire more sophisticated workers to monitor the robots? Will this be a mix of both?

Robots won’t be able to do everything. Nonetheless, it’s a trend you’ll have to incorporate into your cleaning practices.

Internet of Things

IoT provides heaps of data. This data affects how you do, or do not do, your cleaning.

Problem: how will you gather and interpret the data?

And who will communicate your findings with the customer?

Your cleaning staff will take on more sophisticated tasks. IoT devices will reveal how frequently employees or students wash their hands, or how often certain areas have been cleaned.

With hand-washing, it may be your job to communicate the importance of doing it a certain number of times daily, for a certain length of time.

In relation to cleaning various areas of your building, you may learn how many hours an employee ran a certain machine during their shift. Then it’s your job to show them how long that should be, and what they should be doing.

The amount and types of data you’ll collect will almost seem insane. So the potential for how this looks at your organization is quite open.

The Changing Nature of Offices

Co-working spaces are clearly gaining momentum. Traditional cubicle-based office spaces are getting smaller. Some employees stand. Others negotiate more time working from home.

All this will impact how you clean your building. If you have co-working space, you may have to spend more time preventing the spread of infections. That may include educating people at these spaces what they should do to prevent disease. You may have to spend more time cleaning office cubes to prevent spread of infections also.

We’ll see what the future holds. For now, you’re at least aware and prepared for these trends as they take shape.

What to Do When Your Customers Direct Your Janitors

Customer relations can sometimes be extremely difficult to manage. Every customer is different. And every once in a while, you get a tough one.

What do you do if you get the type of customer, whether internal or external, who takes it upon themselves to director your janitors as to what they should do? Worse yet, what should you do if you get a customer who removes your janitors from their tasks and then complains they’re not getting things done like they should?

Such unreasonable scenarios do happen. Here’s what to do if you find yourself in one:

Let Your Customer Know the Consequences of Their Actions

Customers don’t realize that if they direct your staff to do different work, they expose themselves to liability. Since they gave the order themselves, they are on record as being liable for workers’ comp injuries, or civil lawsuits. They may also expose themselves to additional fees if your current service contract doesn’t cover their request.

You Need To Have a Chat with Your Customer

Customers may engage in this type of behavior for a variety of reasons. They may not like their contract, so they could be putting your staff in impossible situations so they can claim you violated the contract. They also may not understand that their contract doesn’t cover what they request, so they may be interested in rewriting their contract.

Some customers just want to have control. You can offer it to them, but negotiate the appropriate costs with them if they do.

Train Your Staff So They Can Deal with This Situation

Since your customer gives orders to your staff without involving you, you’ll have to train your staff on what you want them to do when your customer directs them. For your staff, it’s pretty simple:

  • Acknowledge the customer’s request
  • Let the customer know whether or not they can do the requested task
  • Contact you, their supervisor, so you can straighten out the situation with your customer

Then, it’s up to you to talk with your customer and negotiate a relationship that works for both sides. In most cases, this is possible. In rare cases, it isn’t. You may have to terminate the relationship with your customer.

However, you now have a workable approach for managing customers who direct your staff.