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AHCP in the Wash

Article first published in AHCP Voice Autumn 2015 Edition

Laundry is an indispensable support service for patient care in any healthcare facility, which must be undertaken to meet strict standards to prevent cross-contamination and the spread of infection from one patient to another through re-usable linens. Manufacturers supplying equipment, services and products continue to innovate to address the key challenges for laundry operations within healthcare. Voice investigates.


Top of the list of challenges is infection control, which remains a key clinical priority for hospitals and healthcare organisations.

Commercial and industrial laundry specialist JLA explains that its ground-breaking natural ozone disinfection system, OTEX, has revolutionised the way hospitals and other hygiene-focused commercial organisations do their laundry. Developed by its own internationally acknowledged technicians, chemists and infection control experts, OTEX disinfects more effectively than any conventional  thermal alternative, killing 99.999% of harmful micro-organisms such as MRSA, E.Coli, Norovirus and C.diff spores.

Commenting on OTEX, the Department of Health’s Rapid Review Panel, set up to identify new developments to help the NHS combat high levels of Hospital Acquired Infections (HAIs), states: “Evidence shows that it is more effective in decontamination than current laundry systems.” 

JLA’s OTEX ozone disinfection technology helps operatives to maintain infection control standards by ensuring all laundry is completely disinfected, while sophisticated laundry monitoring and reporting tools allow validation of washes to aid with CFPP01-04 regulation compliance, as well as HACCP, environmental health and other guidelines. OTEX is available with a verifi cation unit which monitors the amount of ozone being injected into the wash process and provides a printed ‘receipt’, verifying that the process criteria has been met and confirming the cycle has achieved disinfection.

The pressure to cut costs and achieve greater energy efficiencies often sit hand-in-hand and laundry is no exception.

OTEX uses less water on every cycle and is effective at low temperatures so there is a lesser requirement for heating, therefore it also helps to reduce water and energy bills.

Diversey Care has products that offer disinfection against pathogens at lower temperatures which helps to reduce energy costs. A good example of this is Horizon Bright which kills MRSA bacteria at 40oC (passing EN1276) and C.diff spores at 60oC (passing EN13704).

Diversey Care also offers a portfolio of products with excellent disinfection performance that can be used on a wide range of fabrics, enabling laundries to remain compliant with NHS guidelines.

Another innovation from JLA is the SMART Wash range. SMART technology includes features such as JLA Sense, which allows users to achieve optimum efficiency while ensuring the best wash quality. By measuring the absorbency of the load the washer automatically uses the correct amount of water and detergent for the individual load to ensure that cleaning is effective whilst optimising resources.

Other features of the SMART Wash range include thermal disinfection cycles and sluice programmes, with auto-audit and USB functionality which allows users to view and retrieve wash data for auditing purposes. This accurate, automatic digital traceability aids compliance with regulations such as CFPP01-04 and also demonstrates ‘best practice’ approach.

Diversey Care stresses the importance of efficient configuration of equipment and proper use of dosing/dilution control systems to optimise machine performance for reduced water consumption. Proper installation and regular routine checks/maintenance will help to prevent equipment downtime and leakages that lead to inefficiency and waste. Correct formulation - for example for local water hardness - promotes machine efficiency and reliability by reducing the build-up of limescale.

The latest dilution control systems ensure automatic and accurate use of laundry products to optimise performance with no wastage. Use of automated product control also removes the risk of human error.

Diversey Care offers a range of support and consulting services in its aquaCheck programme to help healthcare on-premises laundries to achieve the best possible results. Whilst controlling costs is important, so is the need to maintain high standards and service levels at all times. Healthcare providers need confidence in the reliability of the equipment and the back-up service provided in the event of a

JLA has developed its zero capital outlay Total Care solution to bring together its award-winning machine supply, fi rst-class engineer response and 24/7 support in a single package. Total Care customers can enjoy complete peace of mind for a simple monthly payment, free themselves of the hassle and inconvenience that can come with maintaining commercial equipment, and ensure critical areas of their business are kept running smoothly.

Customers opting for the Total Care package benefit from market-leading machines with nothing to pay upfront, fully inclusive breakdown cover with no wear and tear clause, 7-day call-out service, including bank holidays, no repair bills or call-out charges to pay and a guaranteed 8-working hour engineer response, or JLA will pay £100.

Barrier systems

The barrier system of washing is one of the most significant evolutions in hospital and healthcare laundry equipment, helping operatives to maintain infection control standards and prevent cross contamination between dirty and clean.

JLA’s barrier washer range is designed to prevent cross contamination while achieving premium wash quality, by using a special ‘dualdoor’ system to process laundry. Installed into a physical wall, these large-scale ‘true passthrough’ washers provide physical separation of loading dirty linen and unloading clean disinfected work, reducing the risk of cross contamination between clean and dirty laundry. 

The smallest footprint required for JLA’s MB26 (26kg barrier washer) is approximately 2.8 metres by 1.1 metres and there are even smaller systems available from other manufacturers, but even these relatively small spaces may be too much for some sites. If the laundry room is not big enough for the installation of a barrier system, the best advice is a good layout with clearly segregated areas for dirty and clean working and provision for hand hygiene.

Ozone v thermal

JLA advises on the pros and cons of two standard methods of laundering hospital linen to achieve the required levels of disinfection.

The pros of ozone disinfection:

  • More effective than thermal disinfection and traditional chlorine chemical disinfectants

  • Protects fabrics and increases the longevity of the linen

  • Does not require any harsh chemicals or bleaching agents

  • Temperature is not required for disinfection - effective at ambient temperatures or cold water

  • Allows disinfection to be carried out on fabrics which wouldn’t normally survive high temperatures or chlorine

  • Shorter cycle times, uses less water and energy, thus reducing carbon footprint and utility costs.

The cons of ozone disinfection:

  • Ozone may produce a slight odour so it requires room ventilation

  • Designed to work on commercial laundry equipment.

The pros of thermal disinfection:

  • Traditionally considered to be adequate for most healthcare linen

  • It is a simple procedure.

The cons of thermal disinfection:

  • Not effective on heat sensitive bacteria such as E Coli 0157

  • Spore forming bacteria such as Bacillus and C.diff are highly resistant to heat

  • Certain fabrics are sensitive to heat and would not survive high temperature washing

  • Cycle times may be impractical, particularly if water supply is poor or there is no provision for hot water.


In-house vs outside service

Diversey Care comments on the pros and cons of operating an in-house laundry facility as opposed to outsourcing.

The pros of in-house

  • User retains (or regains) control over processes which are often considered a core/ essential part of their operation

  • Self-contained operation removes potential risks associated with sending/receiving items to an offsite operation

  • Faster turnaround of linen

  • Hospital retains ownership of linen and processes

  • May support closer integration of laundry processes with other aspects of operation, especially infection prevention

  • Can reduce costs

The cons of in-house

  • Requires space

  • Requires investment in infrastructure and equipment

  • Additional or specialist staff may be required

  • Staff recruitment, training and development will be necessary

  • Reduced access to specialist services provided by outsourced facilities

Explaining the jargon

Laundry services provider, Berendsen, has released a handy new guide that is designed to explain and simplify common ‘linen lingo’ for procurement and housekeeping teams.

With linen terminology including such lingo as Damask, Percale, Jacquard, GSM, Thread Count and Sateen, sourcing and purchasing the correct linen to meet requirements can be confusing and complex. 

The new guide from Berendsen recognises these difficulties and provides procurement and housekeeping teams with all the information they need to understand common linen terminology, helping them to ensure they order the correct linen for their needs. 

“With such a broad range of textile products on offer at Berendsen we understand how complex and confusing linen lingo can be. This handy new guide has been produced to help members of staff better understand terms they may come across day-to-day,” says Paul Swift, Business Development Manager at Berendsen.

“The guide features the most important and frequently used terminology including various product and fabric types. Using this guide procurement teams and housekeeping teams can minimise errors resulting from misunderstanding linen lingo.”

Source: AHCP Voice Autumn 2015 Edition, ahcp.co.uk


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