Background Access to a specialist Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) Consultant instigated a review of existing laundry and linen processing and identified a lack of assurance with regard to onsite laundry management, creating a potential infection control risk for clinically vulnerable hospice patients.
Aim The purpose of the review of laundry management was to prevent any outbreak associated with linen management in the hospice setting, and provide assurance that the laundry process adhered to the appropriate standards.
Methods To improve laundry management the following activities were carried out:
Outsourcing of bulk linen items (sheets, towels and pillow cases) to professional provider.
Introduction of assurance processes for items laundered in-house (slings, slide sheets and hoists).
Training of domestic staff with regard to one way flow of dirty to clean and importance of environmental decontamination to reduce the risk of contaminating freshly laundered items.
Introduction of regular dipslide testing of laundered linen and equipment to compare against benchmarks, as recommended by the Society of Hospital Linen Service and Laundry Managers.
Reporting of results along with other IPC audits to Hospice IPC Group and Trustee Committee.
Results After an initial period of weekly dipslide testing, the results provided assurance of the efficacy of the laundering process, and the safety of the equipment on which laundry is transported and stored.
Conclusion Specialist IPC knowledge brought significant value to improving the care environment. It involved a multi-disciplinary approach. This integrated method of working developed a more accountable culture, with all staff understanding the need for change in order to protect vulnerable patients. The introduction of dipslide testing provides evidence that laundering processes are safe and effective. If audits fall below required standards, additional decontamination procedures are instigated. These improvements were achieved with minimal cost implications.
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