Navigating the Unique Cleaning Challenges of Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation Centers: Tips & Solutions for Facility Managers
Josh Hendricks, Executive Vice President | Sales & Marketing
The role of cleaning professionals in skilled nursing and rehabilitation centers is paramount.
With unique challenges that differentiate them from other environments, janitorial teams must be well-versed in the specific needs and expectations of these facilities. Ensuring cleanliness and safety for residents and staff is not just a goal; it’s a necessity.
Understanding the Scope and Specific Needs
For the purposes of this article, we’ll refer to “skilled nursing” or “healthcare” facilities, but the discussion applies to continuing care retirement communities, independent and assisted living centers, memory care, and rehabilitation facilities. It’s about maintaining a visually and clinically clean environment. It’s about creating a safe and healthy space for residents, many of whom have compromised immune systems. Unlike cleaning commercial spaces or offices, healthcare facilities require a more meticulous approach.
Scope of Work: Some cleaning companies limit their services to resident rooms and common areas, steering clear of medical or care station areas. It’s crucial to clarify these boundaries upfront, ensuring that all parties are well prepared for any specialized cleaning requirements if additional services become necessary.
Specific Needs: Skilled nursing facilities can harbor various infectious diseases, germs, and bacteria, not typically found in an office environment. The residents are generally older, and many may be sick or have weakened immune systems, making them more susceptible to infections. Thus, cleaning for health becomes a top priority, akin to the standards required in daycare centers and schools.
Preparing for Unique Cleaning Situations
Janitorial staff in skilled nursing facilities need to be ready for unexpected cleaning situations. From resident “accidents” to spills, each scenario requires immediate attention, thorough sanitization, and a compassionate approach to minimize embarrassment to the resident.
Given that cleaning staff are in regular, daily contact with residents, often more so than doctors or nurses, they play a crucial role in identifying those at particular risk, such as individuals with memory loss or Alzheimer’s disease. This highlights the importance of trustworthiness, necessitating thorough background checks for all cleaning personnel.
Scheduling and Product Selection: A Strategic Approach
Cleaning Schedules: Scheduling is vital. Cleaning activities should be timed to minimize disruption, ensuring that areas like the cafeteria are not being mopped during mealtimes.
Product Selection: Selecting the correct cleaning products is critical. All-purpose cleaners might suffice in an office setting, but healthcare facilities require robust cleaning chemicals and disinfectants capable of eradicating pathogens like MRSA, C. difficile, and norovirus. Proper training is essential to ensure that cleaning staff can safely and effectively use these products.
Disinfection: A Focus on High-Touch Areas
High-touch surfaces in skilled nursing facilities, such as doorknobs, light switches, handrails, and elevator buttons, require consistent cleaning and disinfection. This practice is crucial in preventing the spread of pathogens and ensuring the safety of both residents and their families.
Addressing Soft Surfaces and Floor Care
Soft Surfaces: Soft surfaces like curtains, cushions, and upholstered furniture can harbor odor-causing bacteria. Using an EPA-registered disinfectant/sanitizing spray is a solution to kill bacteria on these surfaces, maintaining a clean and fresh environment.
Floor Care: Proper floor care is of paramount importance. Hardwood floors should be treated with finishes that meet or exceed UL requirements for slip resistance. Carpets, acting as air filters, trap dust particles and other debris but require routine deep cleaning to maintain their benefits and prevent hardening over time. High-filtration vacuum cleaners and effective, low-moisture, hot-water extraction systems protect air quality, contributing to a healthier environment.
Have Healthcare Cleaning Needs? Let’s Connect!
At 4M Healthcare, a division of 4M Building Solutions, we set the gold standard for best practices in housekeeping and laundry services for the healthcare industry.
Facility directors and managers turn to 4M when they face operational challenges, staffing shortages, or quality issues with their housekeeping teams.
If our approach sounds like something you’re looking for, we’d love to see if we can be of service.