It is essential there are good standards of cleanliness in service premises. A clean and well maintained service provides a more pleasant and stimulating environment for adults who use the service, their visitors and staff, and limits the risk of infection as well as insect and other pest infestations. Unclean surfaces and equipment pose potential health risks to all and are more likely to result in complaints being made about the service.
Under the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 employers have a duty to maintain a clean environment. The Approved Code of Practice to the Regulations state that the workplace, which includes floors walls, ceilings, furniture, furnishings and fittings must be kept ‘sufficiently clean’. ‘Sufficiently clean’ means that workplaces should be regularly cleaned to ensure that dirt or refuse is not allowed to accumulate, and spillages and deposits are removed or cleaned up as soon as possible. The surfaces of floors, walls and ceilings should be maintained, treated and repaired so they can be cleaned properly. Cleaning should be carried out by an effective and suitable method and without creating, or exposing anyone to, a health or safety risk.
Waste materials must also not be allowed to accumulate except in appropriate and designated containers.
2. Reasons for Maintaining a Clean Environment
Controlling dirt and clearing up spillages helps prevent harmful bacteria from growing and being able to spread infection. This is particularly important in toilet, kitchen, food service area and clinical areas.
Unclean environments, including rubbish left and liquids spillages, can also be safety hazards, for example leading to trips or slippery floors.
Not sufficiently cleaning equipment, fabrics, fixtures and fittings will eventually result in a build-up of grease and dirt, which will contribute to a deterioration in the item’s performance and service standards, and may lead to health and safety hazards.
Certain items and equipment may need to be cleaned in a manner and at particular times, as per manufacturers’ instructions. This will also ensure warrantees are not invalidated.
Keeping service premises well maintained and clean discourages pest infestations, including insects and vermin. This helps maintain the fabric of the building as well as reduce infection risk.
As well as adhering to health and safety legislation, a well-maintained and clean building implies that the service has a pride in its environment, and is more likely to encourage adults, visitors and staff to also take care of their surroundings.
It must be remembered however, that there is a balance to be achieved between having a clean and well maintained professional environment and a warm and welcoming personal environment, particularly where the service is a person’s home.
3. Personal Protective Equipment
Staff must have access to personal protective equipment (PPE) necessary for them to carry out their roles and responsibilities safely.
Staff should have access to disposable gloves and aprons, which should be worn for all interventions which have been identified through service risk assessments.
Gloves should not be used as a substitute for hand washing, and hands should always be washed after removing gloves.
Disposable gloves and aprons should only be used once and then disposed of in the appropriate bin. New apron and gloves should be worn between supporting each adult, as well as between different tasks.
Goggles or glasses should be worn when there may be a risk of being splashed by blood or other body fluids.
4. Risk Assessments
A risk assessment must be conducted at the planning stage of any cleaning project. The aim of this is to identify any risks or hazards that the job may present. Interventions should be implemented accordingly, in order to reduce or remove those risks. Risks should be controlled so that cleaners and all other people on service premises, are kept safe and free from risk of injury or other harm.
Cleaning often involves chemicals and equipment. Managers must ensure that staff who are either cleaners or who may have to carry out cleaning jobs as part of their other responsibilities are appropriately trained and are aware of associated risks and what interventions to take to minimise or eradicate those risks. These include the following:
- staff must always use hazard warning signs when cleaning results in wet floors. Signs should be placed, from the start of tasks, in a position where they will clearly inform people of potential risks. Warning signs must be removed, cleaned and returned to their correct storage when the floor is dry and the job has been completed;
- cleaning materials, equipment and chemicals should never be left unattended. After use they should be returned to the allocated, locked storage;
- contractors, including agency staff, must be provided with detailed information on any risks that they may be exposed to during the course of their work at the service, including any measures they may need to take to ensure their health and safety, as well as that of all others using the premises.
5. Cleaning and Infection Control
All cleaning equipment should be stored safely and securely in line with COSHH guidelines.
The national colour code for cleaning equipment is as follows:
- red – bathrooms, toilets, showers and basins;
- blue – General areas of the home, lounge, hallway etc;
- green – kitchen;
- yellow – isolation areas (to be used during outbreaks of infection).
Mops, buckets and cloths should be colour coded accordingly and only used for the areas as stated. After use, washable mop heads should be washed in the washing machine at 70 degrees centigrade.
All cleaning equipment should be thoroughly cleaned and dried after use.
Disposable cloths should be thrown away.
Staff should treat every spillage of body fluids or body waste as potentially infectious. Spillages should be cleaned away quickly as possible.
For a spillage of blood or body fluids a 10,000ppm hypochlorite solution should be used. Staff should:
- put on a disposable apron and gloves;
- prepare the solution;
- cover the spillage with paper towels;
- carefully wipe up the spillage with more towels soaked in hypochlorite;
- wash hands in liquid soap and water;
- prior to using bleach based products for cleaning, any fabric that has been affected should first be tested to ensure it will not become discoloured.
All non-disposable equipment should be cleaned after use.
Equipment made from non-stick material should be cleaned with hot water and detergent.
Particular attention must be given to hygiene within the laundry room, as this can be a potential area for cross-infection.
Items soiled as a result of incontinence must be first washed in a sluice before being subject to normal washing procedures. If a sluice is not available, such items should be pre-washed and then washed at the highest temperature suitable for the clothing.
Staff should wear a disposable apron and disposable gloves when dealing with dirty laundry.
Laundry should not be taken through the kitchen or dining area. Where this is not possible, a risk assessment should be carried out and staff informed that laundry should not be taken through the rooms whilst food is being eaten or prepared.
6. Cleaning Schedule
All staff have a responsibility to help keep the service clean and tidy, including putting equipment and items away once they have finished using them and put rubbish in the appropriate bins. They should also encourage adults and visitors to do the same, as appropriate.
Staff also have a responsibility to identify areas which fall below acceptable or safe standards, and inform the appropriate member of staff in order for them to take action.
Service managers are responsible for ensuring the premises has a cleaning schedule in place that determines what areas should be cleaned, when and by whom. Implementation of this should be monitored by the manager or their delegate.
The cleaning schedule should pay attention to particular problem areas, examples include:
- behind toilets;
- toilet floors (some floorings need steam cleaning). Floors should not be left really wet after mopping – puddles of water can cause staining and are a slip hazard;
- shower fittings (lime-scale can build up);
- grout between tiles in bathroom, kitchen, utility room etc;
- extractor fans (including in bathrooms and cooker hoods).
The cleaning schedule should also inform staff and adults and visitors of the frequency of cleaning certain areas for example:
- daily cleaning is likely to include emptying of bins; cleaning toilets, sinks and bathrooms; kitchen and dining areas and vacuuming / mopping / sweeping of all floors including hallways and stairs;
- weekly cleaning is likely to include bedrooms; office areas; extractor fans; laundry / utility room; other rooms; cleaning of aids (wheelchairs, hoists etc);
- monthly cleaning is likely to include deep cleaning of bathrooms; windows; skirting boards and paint work;
- quarterly cleaning might include high level dusting; cleaning of blinds / curtains; deep cleaning of kitchens; equipment; floor coverings etc.
The service manager should decide whether cleaning of the service should be carried out by existing staff with adults who use the service as appropriate, or if some cleaning tasks need to be carried out by external contractors.