Insights from the Healthcare Frontline: The Outsourcing Advantage
David Maw, Director of Business Development, 4M Healthcare
In the realm of healthcare, maintaining a pristine environment and effectively managing virus containment are non-negotiable priorities for organizational success. While housekeeping stands as the linchpin in this endeavor, orchestrating the seamless execution of this vital service remains a formidable challenge, even for experienced operators.
Full disclosure: Yes, I presently work on the vendor side of healthcare facility services, but the comments I share here come from the perspective of a seasoned operator with decades of experience in a continuing-care retirement community.
I have witnessed firsthand how poor-performing housekeeping and laundry services can impact an entire community. I operated a large Life Planned Community that required constant attention to every operational detail, including oversight for each of the service departments, not to mention continuous monitoring of building maintenance and cleanliness for that all-important first impression so familiar to all of us in the industry.
After numerous attempts to enhance the performance of the housekeeping and laundry departments, the results remained inconsistent, and I realized I was in a battle I could not win. I feared time was running out before the department completely imploded. The existing housekeeping staff had lost its service edge, primarily due to high staff turnover, low morale, and the persistent strain of being consistently understaffed. The pressing question was how to achieve a lasting solution to these issues.
If we pursued the outsourcing route, I firmly believed we needed a partner aligned closely with our overall culture, stated mission, and corporate values and vision. On a more selfish level, I wanted to make this decision just once. Set on my decision to outsource, I looked for a business partner we could work with long-term, with embedded cleaning services that would elevate the entire community. I realized a transition of any front-facing department in a retirement facility could be stressful, so selecting the right partner experienced in all phases of outsourcing a complete department is critical. If done the right way, with the right vendor, the results outweigh any anticipated anxiety during the first stages of the transition.
After the transition and working through some manageable ruffles, we had a professional-based housekeeping & laundry department in place. Within the first several weeks, we saw immediate results, including agreed upon—and adhered to—standard operating procedures, posted work & training schedules, daily oversight by the department manager, and weekly drop-ins by a regional manager auditing the progress and the work.
Importantly, those behind-the-scenes details revealed loads of positive outcomes. Family members and residents commented on the change and a noticeable difference in cleaning. The housekeeping department assumed a new calm and improved morale with experienced leadership in place. Our new vendor genuinely took all the worries out of housekeeping and laundry services. After enduring significant challenges pre-outsourcing, I cannot adequately convey the immense satisfaction and relief I experienced.
Choosing the right service provider for your housekeeping services can bring improvements throughout your operation, such as:
- Outsourcing saves you money: one of the significant advantages of outsourcing is a guaranteed level of cost-savings. Housekeeping becomes a fixed cost, allowing you to forecast your budget.
- Outsourcing eliminates benefit expenses: you don’t need to account for payroll costs like PTO, worker’s compensation, HR services, and the costs of hiring and firing.
- Outsourcing improves safety: it removes an added worry from the leadership team, who can now focus on resident & patient care. A focused team and an experienced provider can ensure safety standards are met, and residents and patients are adequately cared for.
- Outsourcing improves quality: experienced providers know the most effective cleaning processes and procedures. They do the work day in and day out and use superior products and equipment for effectiveness and efficiency.
- Outsourced providers are compliant: they hold their staff accountable to strict compliance standards, taking that burden off you. This is especially important in a healthcare setting subject to regular inspections.
- Outsourced providers offer ongoing staff education: an outsourced provider’s focus should be individual and team development. It prevents staff members from repeating mistakes. Ongoing training ensures Team Members are at the forefront of innovations and understand how to mitigate emerging pathogens, such as new variants of COVID-19.
Many in leadership positions in healthcare concentrate primarily on cost-cutting efforts. This focus can sometimes detract from the goal of keeping residents, patients, and team members safe. Outsourcing can deliver cost savings, create a healthy environment beneficial to all stakeholders' well-being, and free up executives' time to focus on long-term success.
If you are considering outsourcing housekeeping or laundry or want to bounce ideas or questions by me, please get in touch with me.