Our Domestic services department is home to 240 members of staff. They provide cleaning services throughout the entire hospital, as well as in some cases beverages to patients. The job is incredibly demanding and integral to the running of the hospital. Yet like many of our facilities roles, a lot of their work is behind the scenes and goes unnoticed. We’ve spoken to three members of our Domestic team to gain a better understanding of their role.
Jacqueline Kerr has worked at the QE Gateshead as a domestic for the last 25 years.
“On a typical shift I start at 7am up on accident and emergency, it’s a very busy department which means we are also very busy. I stay on the same department for all of my shift, not stopping from start to finish. It’s a very physically demanding job, domestic work is not easy... If you don’t like hard work, it’s not a job for you.
Covid was a very challenging time for the domestics, obviously we were put at risk as we were cleaning areas that had been contaminated with Covid. The accuracy of our job was even more important than usual, we had to get it right to limit the spread within the hospital. We also had to wear protective clothing to shield ourselves from Covid, but it was incredibly hot and made our jobs even harder.
The most satisfying part of my job, is seeing the results. I love my department looking clean for the staff and the patients, I take great pride in it. I am proud to be a domestic and proud of the role I play in keeping the hospital clean and making it a safe place for patients, visitors and staff. I do my job the best I can and I always try to help people along the way.”
Carol Duggan has also been a domestic for over 25 years she continues, “I treat my department as I would my own home, I’m very proud of the standard of cleanliness I achieve. There are about 6 to 8 members in our team and we all work well together; our supervisor Karen will try and help in any way she can and that makes a really nice atmosphere to work in.
If you are considering a career in clinical cleaning, I’d say you need to care about people. We come into contact with a lot of patients, some days we can be the only person they see so its important to have a good attitude. If you’re fit, not shy of hard work and you always give your best I’d say go for it.”
Rachel Lee is also a QE Facilities Domestic and explains her experience in the job:
“Every day is different; the only typical event is to be prepared for anything. Our day-to-day work has to fit around the wards and patients' needs and routine, which means every day brings a new challenge. Although every day can be different, I like the stability of knowing there's always work to be done. I also appreciate that I am trusted to know my role well enough that I can work independently.
I’m not sure people appreciate how flexible domestics have to be, each ward has a completely different way of running and the domestics have to learn to adapt to their surroundings and work around the ward's routine. We also have to comply to training that is specific to the day-to-day role we work in.
I believe I am part of a great team; we assist each other, communicate well and make sure each other are supported. We all work well together because we all have a joint interest in making the ward look as presentable as possible. My particular ward has 3 regular domestics, we understand the value of teamwork and are all invested in doing an efficient job. We try to share the work evenly and it works well for us.
I think to do this job you need to open minded, positive and flexible but firm. It’s important to know you’re job well and complete it to the best of your ability, making sure you are working as a team and establishing good relationships with the rest of the staff, not just in your own team but also the clinical staff on the wards. Our job contributes to the patient experience and safety but also the environment in which our fellow colleagues have to work in. It’s incredibly important.”
The team recently received excellent patient feedback regarding the cleanliness of the children's outpatient department. The team often receive compliments from wards in the trust as the healthcare professionals see on a daily basis how hard the domestics work, but for it to be noticed by our patients and visitors is an incredible achievement and a credit to their hard work.