Keeping It Clean: The challenge of hospice housekeeping during Covid-19
Just how do you raise excellent standards even higher due to the coronavirus?
Mish Holmes is Housekeeping Supervisor at Weldmar Hospicecare, and responsible for the cleanliness of our Inpatient Unit – quite a crucial task at any time, let alone during a worldwide pandemic.
As well as Mish, the team includes Arpi and Carol, who are both shielding, as well as Leila, Lin, and Peter, who has moved over from the catering team. They are responsible for keeping the patient rooms and bays, offices, communal areas, and bathrooms spotlessly clean and free of any infection.
“Things changed very quickly with the onset of Covid,” says Mish, “especially because we lost two members of the team early on. We had to look at ways we could improve straight away. Although the standard of cleaning and disinfecting was very high anyway, it had to go up a further notch.”
Although cleaning things like door handles, desks, and computers were done regularly, these are now being done with increased frequency. When Lin Willett arrives for her shift in the laundry at daybreak, her first task is to disinfect door keypads.
Speaking of the laundry, it’s been an extra busy time in there, because all office staff now have to be dressed in scrubs.
Mish sits on Weldmar’s Infection Prevention group, and at the start of the pandemic also attended the emergency Covid-19 meetings that were organised.
“It was really important that we kept up to date”, explains Mish, “so we could make sure we were following the latest correct procedures. One of the things we’ve had to adapt to is wearing PPE at all times. The work can get quite hot when you’re wearing a face mask, so that was one challenge. Another was to make sure we could deep clean all the offices of people working from home, before those rooms were repurposed for other things.”
Some of the procedures that have come in as a result of the pandemic will stay in place, according to Mish. “Before Covid, disinfecting and sterilising a room could take 24 hours, but now we are more flexible and operate quicker turnaround times and can have it ready in two hours, or three hours for a whole bay.
“I’m so proud of my team. They have been amazing. We have chopped and changed so many rotas, we have addressed lots of problems and issues together to work out solutions, even if that means coming in very early in the morning or having phone conversations in the evening.
“We have also been helped out hugely by Weldmar retail team members who were redeployed to the IPU when the shops closed for lockdown. We are missing them already!
“I also have to give our nursing team lots of credit too. It’s been a difficult and challenging few months, but they have worked with us and have been very understanding – it’s certainly helped to build bridges within the whole IPU team.”