19 Sep 2018

Effective Cleaning In Care Home Catering Environments

Effective Cleaning In Care Home Catering Environments

In the care sector, effective cleaning should always be the number one priority to help prevent the spread of infection and bacteria, as often the people living in care environments are more vulnerable to illness than other people due to age or disability. If there’s one area that it’s extremely important that effective cleaning practices are put in place, it’s in catering areas, to help control the spread of infection through food.

This is vital as food poisoning bugs, such as E.coli and Campylobacter are at high risk of being introduced and spread in catering areas. When catering staff carry these bacteria and viruses they can spread them through bodily fluids, which can mean that food can sometimes be accidentally infected with viruses such as Norovirus.

While more healthy people can easily fight these kinds of infections off, for more vulnerable people in care environments, this is not always possible and can cause serious complications. Plus, in compact environments such as care settings, there is also the risk of any illness quickly spreading and impacting a wide number of residents and team members.

In care environments, it is essential that the risk of spreading bugs is minimised particularly in catering areas, which is why it’s vital that care is taken when it comes to hand hygiene.

How can you minimise the risk of bugs spreading in catering environments in care homes?

  • When cleaning, a standard cleaning product is not enough, disinfectant should always be used. You will need to go through a 3-stage cleaning process that allows you to clean off visible dirt, disinfecting the area and then cleaning the area with clean water. It’s important to note that most standard disinfectants are only effective on pre-cleaned surfaces and not on surfaces that have not been effectively pre-cleaned.
  • For anyone who prefers a one-step process, a professional cleaning disinfectant should be used that destroys bacteria, fungi, viruses, and spores, and does not require a pre-clean or rinsing off. It is essential that any product used to clean catering environments has been approved by Defra and meets BS ISO 4120.
  • Regardless of the product that you use, it’s essential that you read the instructions noted by the manufacturer in terms of contact time, how to use the product safely and whether it needs to be diluted. It’s also essential to ensure that the product meets BS EN standards.
  • After food has been prepared, any surfaces that have been used must be wiped down. This will minimise the chances that bacteria will be transferred from the catering area to around other areas in the car home.
  • When cleaning any surface, a clean cloth must always be used. Wherever possible, disposable cloths should be used and disposed of after each task has been completed. If reusable clothes are used, they must be washed in hot soapy water before being properly disinfected. This means that any bacteria picked up by the cloth cannot be spread from place to place.
  • Of course, it’s not just work surfaces that need to be disinfected to prevent the spread of bacteria and viruses, it’s also sinks, kitchen equipment, floors, the fridge, storage areas, and any items that are regularly touched, such as light switches and door handles.
  • When it comes to dealing with daily tasks, it is essential that you clear away and clear up as you go. It’s also essential that catering spaces are kept clear of clutter and any rubbish is thrown away immediately - these steps help to ensure that bacteria cannot grow and spread from these things.
  • It’s also crucial that all staff are made aware of why effective handwashing is so essential and why personal hygiene must always be taken seriously. This helps to ensure that bacteria and viruses aren’t spread accidentally from unclean hands. Other sources that can spread bacteria are unclean or contaminated clothes, exposed cuts and coughs and sneezes. In cases of diarrhoea and vomiting, catering staff should not be allowed to return to a catering environment for at least 48 hours after they last had symptoms to help prevent the spread of these kinds of conditions.

Get your cleaning processes right

When it comes to care home catering cleaning, it’s essential that you take the time to ensure that when it comes to your cleaning processes that you have got every aspect of them right. The fact is that whether you’re a brand new care home just starting out or an older care facility, it’s essential to do an overhaul of the processes that you have in place regularly, to ensure that you are doing the best that you can.

A good step to start with is creating a detailed plan of what cleaning procedures you need to have in place and for what areas. Start by walking around any catering areas in your care facility and create a detailed record of the items and areas within them that require cleaning. Use this information to create a cleaning schedule that you can stick to effectively and that will prevent the spread of any infections.

What should your cleaning schedule outline?

  • The areas and items that require cleaning
  • How these items and areas should be cleaned
  • What cleaning products and equipment should be used for each area
  • How the cleaning products in place should be used
  • The frequency at which items should be cleaned
  • What precautions need to be taken prior to cleaning, such as unplugging electronic devices
  • What protective wear and equipment should be used when cleaning, such as the use of goggles and disposable gloves

Once you have created a schedule, you need to ensure that the entirety of your staff are aware of it, so that cleaning is always taken seriously. It’s a good idea to pin any schedule outlines that you have to the wall so that it’s easy for everyone to see, should they need to take a look at it.

It’s also essential to ensure that all staff members go through adequate training when it comes to care home cleaning. You must also ensure that they have understood the training undertaken and know what it takes to ensure that cleaning is done effectively. In addition to this, you may want to ask your team members to complete records regarding how often cleaning processes have been completed.

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