Floor care - understanding needs

10th of November 2015
Floor care - understanding needs

What role does effective floor care play in maintaining high standards of hygiene? What are the most important considerations when cleaning floors to such high standards, what are the high-risk areas and how should service providers select the most appropriate equipment and chemicals? Jean-Pierre Lebrun, group product manager, floorcare at Nilfisk, examines the vital role of this aspect of the cleaning operation.

Clean large floors areas - this is the daily challenge faced by logistics teams in hospitals. Every day thousands of square metres of floors have to be clean to a high standard of hygiene - this is why the cleaning of healthcare buildings need to be done by professionally qualified operators with the right floor care tools.

Healthcare facilities are by definition designed to receive patients with health problems, so they must have a good level of hotelier capacity coupled with a high level of hygiene.

Healthcare facilities are divided into several areas that require different levels of hygienic cleaning. These areas start with administration offices that require a standard building level of cleaning, going through medical services which require a high level of hygienic cleaning, right up to highly sensitive area like surgical units for instance, where all risks of contamination are forbidden.

For each area a specific cleaning programme must be followed to protect patients and avoid cross-contamination.

Cleaning is the first step of the hygienic chain. The constant challenge in healthcare is to stay permanently at a much higher level of hygiene than required each specific area, while the cleaning situation is deteriorating constantly during the time you’re working there.

How often cleaning is required will be linked to the level of contamination present in the place that has to be clean and the hygienic level required for this specific area.

For instance, daily cleaning will be enough for the administration offices but for the surgical units, where patients are very vulnerable and soil level is very important, an intermediate clean will be done between each surgical operation and a deep hygienic clean will be carried out at the end of each cycle of surgical operations or in case of high potential risk of contamination.

All these cleaning activities require hard work from professionally qualified operators and it is an important part of the running cost in healthcare activities. Like everywhere cost are under pressure in the health environment and it’s fundamental to have a perfect cleaning organisation with the right level of productivity for each activity.

The efficiency of the cleaning of very important, of course but avoiding the proliferation of germs is fundamental.

Trained operators

For instance, it’s efficient and professional to work with a trolley including buckets and microfibre clothes to clean a patient’s room but it’s essential to have trained operators who know how to use these tools in the correct way.

It’s also vital to make sure that cleaning operators are following the basic cleaning rules - cleaning from the cleanest to the dirtiest; use correctly the different microfibre cloths with different colours for each hygienic zone (the room needs to be clean first with one/several cloths and the toilet need to be cleaned afterwards with another/several cloths); use the correct chemical detergent on the right surfaces; use disinfectant only when needed on clean surfaces, and so on.

Without good training, the best cleaning tools used in the wrong way can be a vector of contamination, and the hands of cleaning operators are the first tools that must be managed. Good hygienic cleaning needs to be checked frequently in terms of the cleaning result, but also in terms of contamination and corrective actions, should be implemented when necessary.

A good example of cost optimisation in health facilities is to use machines like scrubbers dryers to clean large surfaces such as corridors, instead of manual mopping, Using scrubber dryers brings better cleaning efficiency, a faster job, better safety for the patient (the floor is immediately dry and not slippery), an higher level of hygiene (the microorganisms need humidity to grow) and a better aesthetic.

How should cleaning service operators choose the most appropriate equipment and chemicals?
The main points that healthcare facilities managers need to consider when selecting floor care equipment and chemical are cleaning efficiency and productivity, to be sure to reach goal of cleaning and hygiene level specified in the programmes.

But they need also to take into consideration many other factors. For the machines the ergonomics, the low noise levels, the manoeuvrability, the ease of use, the water and energy consumption. For chemical products, the users’ safety, floors compatibility, the ease of dosing.
They need also to check if equipment and chemical cleaning products can handle the variety of floors found in healthcare buildings, if the equipment fits with the building to clean (door sizes, lifts capacities…) and the ability to maintain the equipment itself.

Efficient machines

A wide range of equipment is available to the healthcare market in the form of scrubber dryers in walk-behind, stand-on and ride-on models. These scrubber dryers use a detergent dispensing system that allows the operator to use the minimal amount of detergent needed for cleaning an area, while providing a burst of power in heavily soiled areas. These machines feature a quiet mode that permits daytime cleaning in sound-sensitive areas. Also, the minimal water used can reduce a facility’s water consumption. Paired with a squeegee design, they leave floors dry in a single pass.

The size of the scrubber dryer required depends on the surfaces to be cleaned: big ride-on scrubber dryers for large corridors and compact models for rooms inside the service areas or in sensitive applications. Using and keep a scrubber dryer inside the same service area avoids contamination across health facilities.

Other machines can be used for floor care applications in healthcare building. High or dual speed single disk models are the best tools for dry cleaning solution by spray method - removing tracks or sticky dirt from the floor without water is a good way to prevent microorganisms from growing and keeping the aesthetic on soft floors.

Low speed single disk machines allow deep cleaning or floor restoration in narrow spaces. Burnishers increase the shine level for a better aesthetic, especially after scrubber dryer cleaning.
Wet vacuum cleaners can be used to absorb all kind of liquids. Dry vacuum cleaners can be used with HEPA exhaust filter to remove dust everywhere without contamination.

Definition of clean

Steam cleaners scan clean and sanitise all kind of furniture, such as beds or operating tables.
All these machines are enabling heavy and laborious floor care activities to be scheduled into the daily cleaning routine for healthcare workers , allowing them to focus on more sensitive cleaning issues closer to the patient.

What have been the most important floor care developments in recent years in terms of more effective and reliable standards of hygiene? The first vector of better standard of hygiene in healthcare was a better definition of cleaning and hygiene programmes and the better training of health cleaning operators.

In term of equipment, the main progress drivers were better management of chemical and water consumption by chemical dosing system on trolleys or by dosing system incorporated directly into cleaning machines, like the Ecoflex from Nilfisk. The optimum level of water and chemical for the right level of cleaning needed brings less cleaning cost, gives microorganisms less water to grow in, and it’s better for the environment.

Another clear trend in floorcare in healthcare facilities, is the reduction in the size of the scrubber dryer in order to  replace manual mopping by mechanical cleaning. A good example is the Nilfisk SC351 small scrubber dryer, which has high manoeuvrability, a low sound level, and is usable frontwards and backwards to perform fast and deep hygienic cleaning of a patient room.

And the future is now with the new scrubber dryers from Nilfisk SC500 as walk behind and SC2000 as micro ride-on, which were carefully designed to improve productivity and drive down total cleaning costs. These significant benefits are achieved through more ease-of-use and a series of technical features enabling daytime cleaning and the most effective use of water and detergent.

Productivity is taken to a new level by the automatic adjustment of the water/detergent solution flow according to the speed of the machine. By using this control, which ensures a consistent cleaning result and an optimised consumption of water and chemicals, the operator can focus on getting the job done. Cleaning costs are reduced due to several features.

Water-only option

The sustainable Nilfisk Ecoflex system offers very flexible use of detergent, and also water-only cleaning, just by pushing a button. Also driving down costs is the opportunity to introduce more daytime cleaning due to the remarkably low sound level of the SC500 and SC2000.

A clear understanding of the needs in terms of hygiene level, cleaning efficiency, productivity, cost control. This is the only way to help logistics teams in hospital to win their daily challenge of cleaning. The only way to win this challenge is a constant communication between machines and chemical providers and the cleaning team in healthcare facilities, and it’s the way Nilfisk is working.



Our Partners

  • ISSA Interclean
  • EFCI
  • EU-nited