It is estimated that about 200,000 patients in Canadian hospitals get hospital-acquired infections (HAI) every year. Of these, more than 8,000 die. What is even more alarming about these numbers is that while efforts have been taken to reduce them, current actions are not working. For instance, mortality rates attributable to Clostridium difficile (c. diff.) infection, which is often one of the infections associated with HAI, have more than tripled in Canada since 1997.
Long Term Care (LTC) faces similar challenges as hospitals. Elderly residents are highly susceptible to infection and administrators report that recent outbreak events have become more aggressive and last longer. Usually, cleaning efforts are amplified dramatically when an outbreak occurs. In fact, many healthcare facilities have developed special emergency cleaning procedures just to handle these events.
However, what might be more useful instead of emergency steps is preventive steps that identify where harmful pathogens are located in a facility, in what concentrations, and armed with this knowledge, suggestions for more effective cleaning processes to remove them. This approach can help prevent infection and outbreak incidents in the first place.
This can be accomplished by conducting what is called a cleaning audit or surface assessment. According to Public Health Ontario, beyond helping with infection prevention and control, some of the other reasons for performing a cleaning audit include the following:
- Helps staff realize that what looks clean, doesn’t mean clean;
- Provides a quality indicator of current cleaning methods;
- Highlights strength areas so that custodial staff can be recognized and complimented for their work;
- Identify opportunities for improvement;
- Highlight more serious deficiencies in cleaning or building management;
- Helps to ensure cleaning consistency.
A Cleaning Audit in Action
Seniors living in LTC facilities tend to have weaker immune systems than the general population. Mindful of this, and aware that an infectious outbreak could cause many residents to become ill, OMNI Health Care engaged OptiSolve to assess their chain of long-term care residences.
OptiSolve provides a cleaning audit and surface assessment service. The service uses a variety of high-tech systems to detect microbial contamination, which can help stop the spread of infection. These systems include the following:
- OptiSolve Pathfinder, a technology that captures surface images and generates contamination density maps
- ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate Bioluminescence), swabs which detect and measures the concentration of potential contaminants on surfaces.
- Microbiological Cultures (TPC – Total Plate Count) or environmental culture swab test of colony forming units (CFU/swab).
To begin the cleaning audit process, the OptiSolve Environmental Health and Safety Specialist selected high-touch and commonly touched areas potentially contaminated with pathogens that could cause infections. Using the tools and technologies noted above, findings and suggestions of the OptiSolve Specialist were as follows:
- Light switches in selected washrooms were sufficiently cleaned; no special recommendations.
- Wood handrails, door handles, and the handle on a refrigerator needed attention; these were called “areas of concern;” the OptiSolve technicians recommended reviewing cleaning procedures, practices, and products in these areas.
- Door handles in resident washrooms as well as key and bell controls at a nurses station needed significant cleaning improvement. It was recommended that cleaning protocols be reviewed, and cleaning frequency increased.
- Some electronic devices, such as computer screens and mice, were found to be so contaminated, they were viewed as a threat to building users. These types of surfaces can be difficult to clean. The facilities administrator was advised to consider different cleaning products that might prove to be more effective.
OptiSolve is now working with OMNI Health Care with an objective of improving health and safety outcomes for the residents, staff, and visitors at all OMNI homes.
“We started with a trial at one of our homes and based on the results and positive impact, an agreement was reached to expand the program and our partnership with OptiSolve to include an assessment of one OMNI home per month, as well as a quarterly, debrief of finding – strengths and opportunities – for all administrators and environmental services managers across the OMNI system” says Patrick McCarthy, OMNI’s CEO.
“OMNI’s leadership mindset leaves no doubt that anyone residing in or entering one of their homes will be safer today than they were before the service was initiated” notes Brad Evans, general manager at OptiSolve.
For more information on seeing your way to better cleaning, see optisolve.net and send us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 1-833-SOLVE-00.