Modern medicine has come a long way from its medieval origins, with new and more effective drugs, increasingly complex operations being performed, and the introduction of advanced strategies to tackle infections and disease. Patient care has also come far, remaining central to how our healthcare system operates – much of how modern hospitals work is based on the safe recovery of patients, while our legion of nurses are more numerous than ever.
Many of the duties that healthcare professionals perform are focused on housing and feeding patients, transporting them to more suitable locations, keeping them comfortable in bed, changing dressings, giving counsel, and even taking care of basic hygienic needs to ensure patients recover without issue. These basic functions are also a common duty in care homes, psychiatric wards, and nurseries – making patient care fundamental to the treatment of patients of all ages and conditions.
Sustaining quality patient care has its challenges, however. Across the country, thousands of NHS sites operate at any one time, with staff treating over a million patients every single day, and when you take into account the additional number of private hospitals and clinics throughout the UK, it all adds up to hefty workload. This creates a dilemma for healthcare providers – how to handle the increased foot traffic while also maintaining an outstanding level of patient care.
Keeping your facility clean is critical to overcoming this obstacle, so in today’s article, we’ll explore what good patient care consists of, and why it’s so important, before demonstrating how impeccable facility hygiene can boost the quality of the care you provide.
According to the NHS, patient care (sometimes known as patient-centred or person-centred care) refers to care that focuses on the needs of the individual, and ensures their preferences, needs, and values are met. The aim is to provide care that is both respectful and responsive to the patient, encouraging staff to educate and inform their patients about the health conditions that affect them, and allowing patients to have a say in their own treatment.
The main thrust of the idea is to have healthcare become a partnership between the patient and health professional, and while, for various reasons, this will sometimes be impossible, it helps to foster a sense of trust and co-operation between the community and their health service. Evidence suggests that this results in better health outcomes for the patient, as well as reducing overall costs for service providers, meaning it’s a win-win for everybody.
Therefore, patient care is paramount to running a successful health service, and while many factors contribute to it, such as staff training and community outreach, the hygiene of your facility is one of the most pressing concerns.
Maintaining proper hygiene in and around your facility can result in tangible improvements to patient care. Here are 3 important reasons why:
Clinics and hospitals are busy places with lots of people coming and going. Not only will this naturally spread pathogens, but many of the individuals who enter the premises will already have infections, and could pass on their illness to others in the vicinity. This is a particular concern for vulnerable patients, including those who have reduced immune systems or immune systems that are already struggling to fight off an infection.
Transmission can be as simple as someone coughing or sneezing on a surface, which is then touched by someone else a moment later, who then proceeds to touch their face or deal with a patient, and suddenly, the infection has spread. These types of infections are known as HCAIs, or healthcare-associated infections, and as many as 300,000 patients catch one every year in the UK. Of those, approximately 1 in 17 will die from the illness.
HCAIs received new levels of publicity during the COVID-19 pandemic, with many vulnerable people catching the highly contagious disease in hospitals or care homes and unfortunately passing away. This brought fresh attention to the dangers of healthcare-related infections, and the importance of preventing transmission. As a result, new and strengthened measures were introduced, such as the increased use of antibacterial gel, the required wearing of masks and PPE like face shields, and a widespread test and trace initiative, aimed at reducing the transmission of COVID.
Beyond the threat to vulnerable patients, the transmission of contagious infections has a harmful effect on your workforce. Not only does staff sickness force them to stay home, lowering productivity, but it also negatively impacts patients, with short-staffed clinics struggling to offer the same level of in-depth care. Of course, there also exists the threat that staff who are unaware of their illness could pass it on to their patients, which could unfortunately result in death and possible negligence claims against healthcare providers.
Outstanding facility hygiene is crucial to preventing the spread of these dangerous infections. Regular cleaning of surfaces, floors, and furniture will avoid the build-up of germs, while sanitising toilet areas and consulting rooms will ensure even the most hazardous areas are kept sterile. This will vastly reduce the transmission of germs, and will better protect patients from harmful infections.
While some might think that the appearance of a medical facility is redundant, it can have an outsized impact on health outcomes. This is because first impressions leave a lasting influence, and a premises that appears dirty, cluttered, or unclean is seen as highly unprofessional as a result.
Patients will take notice of this, and that perspective will be reflected in their behaviour. For example, patients will look elsewhere for their medical needs if other options are available, or if not, they will delay attending until they really must, by which point their condition could have gotten far worse, requiring more extensive and more costly treatment. This is obviously a problem for healthcare providers, who will spend precious resources to treat patients, only to receive worse health outcomes.
Perhaps most importantly, a dirty facility will reduce the trust factor of patient care. Research has found that unclean environments will convince patients they are more likely to develop a HCAI, which can cause distress for them and their families. Their concern is not unfounded, with studies finding a direct link between patient perception of cleanliness and higher infection rates. This confirms that the impact of poor facility hygiene is not limited to patient experience – it also causes genuine harm.
To the contrary, a pristine facility is seen as highly professional, and is often perceived as a welcoming environment, where patients feel reassured that the care they are receiving is high quality. This reduces anxiety for them and their family, increases trust between the patient and healthcare provider, and results in a higher overall patient satisfaction. Ultimately, these factors encourage openness and honesty, which naturally contribute to better health outcomes, both from a clinical and psychological standpoint.
Defined as the transfer of harmful bacteria or pathogens from one place to another, cross-contamination is a persistent problem for hospitals and surgeries, as items like syringes, scalpels, thermometers, test tubes/vials, and a whole host of specialized medical equipment are all key culprits. All it takes is for a piece of equipment to momentarily be exposed to bacteria from a surface or person to become contaminated, and if not sterilised properly in-between uses, be passed on to another person.
Cross-contamination is caused by a variety of reasons, such as equipment being stored in dirty cupboards, items left out in the open, or from contact with human bodily fluids, such as blood, saliva, or even breast milk. The latter is often how dangerous diseases are spread, including HIV and Hepatitis C. As a result, it is absolutely vital that equipment is properly sterilized between patients and stored in a clean and safe environment.
According to recent studies, almost half of hospital surfaces swabbed were contaminated by at least one pathogen. This includes the tables that beakers reside on, the trays that surgical tools are left on, and even the beds and consulting chairs that patients lie in. This once again demonstrates the necessity of a robust cleaning operation to ensure your facility is adequately sanitised to reduce the likelihood of cross-contamination, and prevent your patients catching additional infections.
The hygiene of your facility has a real impact on your patient’s health. Poorly maintained locations increase the spread of infection, damage your relationship with the community, and raise the risk of cross-contamination, ultimately lowering the quality of your patient care. Additionally, with the most recent publication of the NHS National Standards Of Cleanliness only released in 2021, it can be difficult to know exactly how to conform to these guidelines and keep your healthcare facility hygienic.
Here at Vanguard, we have been cleaning hospitals and clinics for over two decades, and as a result, we’re experts on the exact hygiene levels that medical facilities and equipment require. We’ve developed an excellent track record over this time, passing audits and inspections from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and Health Inspectorate Wales (HIW), measuring and accrediting our infection control procedures. We even responded to the very first practice that treated a COVID-19 patient in the UK, completing a deep clean to prevent its harmful spread.
Outstanding hygiene is instrumental in making sure infections like COVID are stopped in their tracks, and your patients remain happy, being tended to in a clean and clinical environment. This will not only save you and your operation money, but will also enhance your facility as a provider of high quality patient care.
We can deploy our staff to complete a variety of services, including:
Our staff are highly experienced, with training accredited by the British Institute Of Cleaning Science (BICSc), allowing them to implement a broad range of cleaning solutions, across a multitude of premises. Whether you need cleaning for a small doctor’s office or a larger medical complex, our cleaners are dedicated to ensuring the highest cleaning standards possible. We also customize all our contracts, tailoring our services to the exact nature and needs of your facility, on a schedule that suits you.
For further information on how we can help your facility shine, be sure to contact our team of professionals for a free, no obligation quote.