When working in a facility such as an aged care residential home, ensuring that all of your hygiene standards are maintained is vital not only to the health of the residents, but also to your own health, and to the health of those visiting the facility. It also allows the families of those in your care to feel assured about where their loved one is staying.
The Importance of Proper Laundry Care – Minimising the Risk of Infection
Proper laundry care is one of the first lines of defence when it comes to minimising the risk of infection – especially in an aged care facility. Many residents may have a weaker immune system, whether as a result of their advanced age or due to the effects of a previous or ongoing illness. If their linen wasn’t properly handled and carries traces of influenza, gastroenteritis, or other harmful viruses, a serious outbreak of illness could occur.
Any Commercial or Industrial washing machine can get your linens looking clean, white and shiny – but choosing the correct industrial machine will ensure you are getting your linens more than just clean to the eye. Hygiene and Infection control issues aren’t necessarily visible in the laundry, but getting a deep clean that removes not only dirt but bugs and harmful bacteria is integral for your laundry.
Infection Control beyond a doubt is the most important part of the laundry process. The simplest of outbreaks through a Care or Health facility can have devastating consequences. Strong processes must be in place to cover all aspects of the laundry process, from the linen collection in the room right through to hygienic hand cleaning processes anytime staff enter or leave the laundry area.
How to Properly Handle Laundry and Linen
The Australian Government and National Health and Medical Research Council understand the importance of proper handling and have made resources available on their website. While each healthcare facility must have their own policies on the proper handling of linen and laundry, they provide some information on some of the best practices to adopt.
Ensure appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is worn during the handling of any soiled linen in order to prevent exposure to blood or body substances;
- ‘Bag’ any used linen into an appropriate laundry receptacle at the location of use;
- Do not rinse or sort used linen in a patient-care area or in a domestic washing machine;
- Place any linen soiled with body substances into a leak-proof laundry bag to ensure it is transported safely;
- Always perform proper and thorough hand hygiene after handling used linen; and
- Store clean linen in a clean, dry area where it will not be contaminated by dust, moisture, vermin, or aerosols. Ensure it is kept separate from used linen.
Throughout Australia and New Zealand, official regulations are in place that detail the proper handling of linen and laundry. These policies are there to ensure that every healthcare facility is caring for its residents and patients in the best possible capacity. While policies may differ from one facility to another, all policies must be in line with the AS/NZS 4146 regulations.
Working with a laundry consultation to ensure your laundry equipment will meet all relevant codes and health care standards is very important, as not all washers are built the same.
Ensuring your laundry has an industrial washer with an inbuilt heating element for Thermal Disinfection is the first key step, AS/NZS 4146:2000 as previously mentioned states that any load will require the temperature of the wash to be maintained at a minimum of 65 degrees C for more than 10 minutes or 71 degrees C for more than three minutes, a process that can only be achieved with the help of an Internal Heating Element.
The finish of the linens for your residents and patients will then have an influence on your equipment selection.
Are you residents expecting Freshly Ironed sheets that you will need a roller ironer for? Or will a dryer and sheet folder give you the finish that the facilities require?
Girbau’s 28kg Rigid Mount Washer, when paired with a High-Efficiency Girbau ED Dryer, is the perfect mix for a Small Aged Care facility. This will meet all disinfection requirements and give a good quality finish – an ironer can easily be added for a high-end touch!
A full load can be taken straight from the 28kg Washer into the 33kg Dryer to prevent wasted time splitting loads.
Shop these perfect Aged Care laundry machines and more below:
A larger facility may require bigger machines, multiple smaller machines or even Barrier Washer systems. Speak to your laundry consultation about the best equipment to meet your site specific needs.