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How Cleanliness saves lives: The impact of Domestic services on infection control

When you imagine a hospital Domestic, you probably conjure up an image of hoovering, dusting and emptying of waste. Yet the domestics are responsible for much more than tidying. Hospital Domestic staff play a vital role in preventing the spread of infection, which directly impacts patient care. By maintaining a clean and sanitised environment they contribute greatly to patient wellbeing and safety.

Training is essential for the Domestic team. They must all be well-versed in infection control, health and safety regulations, handling hazardous materials and be able to use specialised cleaning equipment correctly and safely. They must effectively prioritise tasks from every corner of the hospital, all whilst being exposed to biological hazards, infectious agents, and hazardous chemicals.

Julie Holmes our Domestic Services Manager at Gateshead Health reinforces the significant impact domestic services has on patient safety.

“The Domestic team contribute so much to patient safety, but a lot of what they do tends to go unseen. People will see our Domestic team cleaning spillages that could potentially cause slips, trips and falls doing general housekeeping and safe removal of hazardous waste. However, not a lot of people will appreciate the in-depth knowledge the Domestic team has on infection control. Not all infections can be cleaned in the same way and the domestic team have been trained to conduct a number of specialized cleans to reduce the spread of infections. The potential risk for infection to spread within a clinical environment is massive, so the team need to be trained and fully aware of the infections to clean to the highest standards to ensure we keep our staff, patients and visitors safe.”

In an environment where vulnerable patients are at a higher risk of contracting Healthcare-associated infections (HAIs), cleanliness really is critical. Patients who acquire an HAI generally stay in the hospital for longer. This can cause a huge strain on hospital services, ultimately reducing the number of beds available. Which in turn can result in longer waiting times for elective and planned treatments as well as costing the national health service a great deal of money.

It may seem like a basic requirement to have a clean facility and perhaps at times, the domestic team’s efforts towards patient safety may even go unnoticed. Yet these individuals play a pivotal role in safeguarding patient health by maintaining clean and hygienic environments. The role is fundamental for patient care and for the functionality of the hospital itself.


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