Bringing a scientific approach to healthcare cleaning

A global pandemic has increased the knowledge and awareness of the public to act positively to reducing the spread of the Covid-19 virus. The science of infection, prevention and control applied in small changes of behaviours can make a huge impact. ISS are taking this a step further by initiating a new study to collect scientific data to provide evidence-based processes to support delivery of healthcare cleanliness.

ISS has been at the forefront of healthcare cleaning for over 30 years. They have a long track record of delivering innovative solutions and based upon their research in Scandinavia, were the first company to offer scientific evidence that introducing microfibre into the NHS would offer a positive improvement.

Having launched their healthcare cleaning strategy and focus for 2021/2022 earlier in the year, ISS Healthcare has now taken its approach one stage further by commissioning a ground-breaking project that will take a scientific and behavioural approach to the professional services they provide across 200+ NHS locations.

ISS’ strategic ambition centres on this ground-breaking project. Collette Sweeney, Head of Healthcare Cleaning at ISS, explains: “the application of cleaning science and the impact of behaviour is intrinsically linked to environmental infection control. The purpose of the project is to use science to determine the efficacy and appropriateness of the healthcare cleaning process to deliver evidence-based safe systems of cleaning. Hospital hygiene is traditionally assessed visually, but this does not necessarily correlate with microbiological risk.”

The project is considered so innovative that the Group Head of Strategic Growth at ISS, Andrew Price has taken a keen interest in the development of the plans. “What we want to challenge”, explains Price, “are the blanket conventional standards that are not always the best ways of approaching things now we have better understanding and far superior technology”.

The company had already been talking with their supply chain who agree that most current tests look for specific microbes such as MRSA whilst the use of a Total viable count (TVC) broad based approach which counts all microorganisms would provide a broader picture of microbiological presence.

Collette and her team, who worked closely with NHS England and NHS Improvement in the development of the recently published National Standards of Healthcare Cleanliness 2021, believe that by using science to validate the cleaning process will build confidence throughout the NHS, support shorter patient stays, and ultimately provide a safe clinical environment to help save lives, not just during the COVID pandemic but beyond.

Collaborative approach

The successful delivery of this project centres on a collaborative approach between the ISS research and development team and the NHS.  Working with the University Hospitals of Burton and Derby, partnership, sharing values has a vital part to play in raising standards and testing methodology. Heather Cracknell, ISS Healthcare Cleaning SME and a member of the project team says: “There has never been a better time to demonstrate not just being visibly clean, but clinically clean. Hospital cleanliness is high on everyone’s agenda”.

Donna Brown, Managing Director for ISS Healthcare agrees: “This new project is a potential game-changer in terms of how and when healthcare cleaning intervention is best applied, we would be delighted for other collaborators to come on board.”

Trialling in uncertain times

The project is currently being carried out under COVID-19 conditions, but it is hoped that some of these restrictions will start to be eased as the pandemic reduces. Collecting sufficient trail data is essential.

It is important that the team engage with all the various stakeholders and ensure that all their expectations are met and that there will be full cooperation from everyone involved – the Royal Derby Hospital is always keen to be at cutting edge of innovation and this project will be no different with the support of the senior management team.

Providing Places that Heal by People who Care

Leading research and development on the efficacy of the cleaning process in hospitals reflects the company’s belief in providing places that Work, Think, Give and ultimately Care. They will continue to highlight the critical impact that behaviour has on cleanliness outcomes whilst driving environmentally sustainable cleaning solutions in healthcare. It is the aim of the business to transform their Healthcare Cleaners into Environmental Placemakers.

Currently there is little direct evidence available to measure the effectiveness of cleaning outcomes as it has never been afforded scientific status. In support of the Standards, this project will use science to demonstrate not just being visibly clean, but clinically clean.  ISS continues to work closely with NHS England and NHS Improvement in the implementation phases of the recently published National Standards of Healthcare Cleanliness 2021. The company has a purpose of connecting people and places to make the world (or in this case the NHS) work better. This project will provide a significant contribution.

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