A clean and safe environment is a reflection of a caregiver's level of competence and their compassion for those who are sick or need assistance with their health.
Well-kept surroundings have many benefits. Cleanliness and disinfection help prevent the spread of microorganisms that cause infections, a complication that can severely affect a patient's health and even cause death. Also, removing unnecessary clutter as part of environment maintenance prevents injuries and accidents.
Other than the health benefits, a clean and organized room can improve the mood of everyone, including the patient, their family, and staff.
Below is a simple guide to help you maintain a healthy and clean workplace:
1. Perform handwashing.
The first step to all cleanliness in the workplace is handwashing. Handwashing effectively lessens the number of microorganisms on your hands, important to both cleaning the surroundings and caring for patients.
Never get too lazy to wash your hands before and after each care procedure and when moving from a dirty place to a clean area. This is the foundation of your defenses against diseases in a microenvironment where enemies are destructive yet too small to be seen by the naked eye.
2. Identify and remove clutter and fall hazards.
Clutter isn’t just an eyesore. When there’s too much out of place or too many things that may cause someone to trip, the environment is not conducive to healing and recovery, and can cause accidents. As a caregiver, you are required to help keep the environment safe for patients. Remove slippery mats, footstools, loose cords, decorative vases, chairs, and other items that block paths and walkways.
3. Sanitize and disinfect.
Keeping a room clean is a good start but is often not enough in environments where we care for patients with weakened immune systems. When you deep clean, look for hidden sources of infection. Surfaces may look clean, but germs are microscopic and can lurk and multiply, especially in high-touch areas such as doorknobs, sink faucets, pull handles, phone handles and mouthpieces, and computer touch screens.
Other surfaces such as countertops and tables need disinfection, too. Make sure to follow the directions on the packages of cleaning solutions and note the dwell time, or how long a solution must stay on the surface to properly disinfect before being wiped or rinsed.
4. Organize and store.
As a general rule, all supplies should be kept in drawers and cabinets, except for those that a patient regularly needs, such as tissues when they have a cold. Keep covered garbage bins nearby, so trash can be easily thrown away.
When storing supplies, put like things together and stack containers so that lighter items are placed on top of heavier ones. The labels should be facing front to make it easier to choose from storage.
5. Create checklists.
Even seasoned caregivers can’t keep mental tabs on all the nitty-gritty details of sanitation and maintenance procedures. Creating checklists will be your life-saver at this point. With to-do lists, it’s easy to keep track of what you've accomplished and which tasks still need your attention.
6. Bathrooms should be squeaky clean at all times.
Don't forget to sanitize and disinfect the sink, floor, toilet bowl, seat, and handles. Keep the floor dry.
7. Sanitize equipment regularly.
For example, equipment such as bedpans and urinals, which come in contact with urine and feces and are transported to and from the toilet, need to be regularly disinfected with recommended cleaning solutions.
8. Be a minimalist.
This means keeping items in a room to a minimum. For example, if you use pillows to support a patient in bed at night, put away all but one during the day when extras are not needed. This helps keep clutter out of the way and the essential items exactly where you need them.
Patients need a healthy, clean, and orderly environment to get well and feel better. Staff will also appreciate a well-organized workplace and can focus better on their jobs. It is therefore highly recommended that caregivers maintain their surroundings at all times.
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