Providing a Safe, Clean and Disinfected Environment
Professionals in every trade have “tools of the trade” (the things that are needed in order to do a job). They must take care of these tools; keep them clean, sharp, organized and in good repair. To do otherwise would be unprofessional.
Housekeepers must raise their level of pride in their chosen profession. If you are a housekeeper, you do very important work. You are not just a maid or just a custodian; you are an Infection Preventionist (you prevent infections or control them from spreading). You have one of the most important jobs in the facility. Take great pride in your work; show your pride by taking care of your tools.
You work with and around medical professionals: doctors, nurses, clinicians, therapists, office staff and others. Professionals want to work with you because they know how important your job is. They will respect you as a professional if you take great pride in your profession and conduct yourself as a professional. Smile and speak to them; hold your head up as you look them in the eye and greet them as co-workers in providing patients with the best care possible.
That being said, let’s talk about your “tools of the trade.”
• The Housekeeping Closet — This is your office. It is where you keep your cleaning supplies, tools and equipment. Keep it as clean as you would your very own office. A lot can be said about your professionalism by the way you keep your housekeeping closet. If you have to keep patient use items like soap, toilet tissue or paper towels, try to keep them separate from dirty items like soiled mops and cleaning cloths or where you dump dirty water.
• The Housekeeper’s Cart — This is your housekeeping closet on wheels. Make sure that it is kept clean/sanitary, neat and tidy. It should not look like you have everything you own on it. Keep supplies like gloves, toilet tissue, soap and paper towels neatly organized. When people walk by your cart and take a look at it, they are making a judgment about you, your department, your profession and the hospital. Make sure you are giving them a positive message.
• The tools on the cart — These should all be neatly organized, clean and in good repair. Don’t have dirty water, dirty mops and dirty cleaning cloths on the cart where people passing by can see them. Often, throughout the day, wipe your tools with cleaners and disinfectants so they don’t become a source of contamination.
• Wet Mops — These should be stored away on the housekeeping cart so people walking past don’t see them. If they are visible, make sure they are clean and neatly organized on the cart. If mops are soiled, they should be kept in a closed bag so people don’t see or smell them. Soiled mops should not be placed in the closet unless another worker is assigned to pick them up to launder them. Never keep dirty mops in the closet over-night because they breed germs and bacteria. Your department should have enough clean mops and in good repair that you don’t need to store more than you can use during your shift or use raggedy-looking mops when you are cleaning floors around patients or visitors. Think about the impression you are giving to patients, staff and visitors; it isn’t a good impression.
• Cleaning cloths — These tools should be kept neatly folded on your cart if they are in plain view of people walking past. Cleaning cloths should not look like rags (i.e. holes in them, badly stained, smelly or dirty looking). If cleaning cloths are soiled, they should be kept in a closed bag so people don’t see or smell them. Soiled cloths should not be placed in the closet unless another worker is assigned to pick them up to launder them. Never keep dirty cloths in the closet overnight because they breed germs and bacteria. Your department should have enough clean cloths and in good repair that you don’t need to store more than you can use during your shift or use raggedy-looking cloths when you are cleaning around patients or visitors.
• Brushes, brooms and other tools — These tools are either carried on the cart or are kept nearby in the housekeeping closet.
• Every housekeeping employee should have a putty knife with them at all times. The putty knife can be carried in your pocket or on the cart. This handy tool is used to remove dried material from practically any surface such as floors, walls, counter tops, sinks, etc. Use it gently so you don’t damage the surface or paint.
• Next, you should carry a small brush about the size and shape of a tooth brush. The tooth brush is used to break through the biofilm around faucet handles on sinks. There are always cracks and crevices on beds, furniture, wheelchairs, etc. that need some attention. This small brush is great for cleaning out those hard to reach areas when all you have is a cleaning cloth.
• A washable high duster should be on the cart at all times for use by the housekeeper. The high duster is meant to clean those surfaces (ceilings, vents, shelves, ledges, etc.) that are shoulder-height and above. For best results, give the high duster a couple of sprays of glass cleaner or general purpose cleaner to attract the dirt and dust. The high duster has to be laundered when it becomes soiled. Treat it as you would your mops and cleaning cloths.
• Every cart needs a dust mop, dust pan and small broom or counter brush. Make sure these are all kept clean and secured on the cart.
• On top of the housekeeping cart, you should have two, five-quart (or 4.7 liters) cleaning buckets. The first bucket should have a label for “General Purpose Cleaner” and the second bucket should have a label for the hospital-approved “Disinfectant”. These buckets should have a handle that allows you to remove the bucket from the cart and carry it into the room with you. Or, if you are able to keep your housekeeping cart within a few steps, it can stay on the top of the cart. At the end of your shift, empty the buckets and rinse them with clean water; dry the inside of the buckets with a clean cloth.
• Lastly, you will need a mop bucket and wringer (or press) that is the right size for the mop you are using (small mop with a small-medium wringer; medium mop for a medium-large wringer, etc.). At the end of your shift, empty the mop bucket and rinse it with clean water; dry the inside of the bucket with a dry cloth. Turn the bucket upside down on the cart or in the housekeeping closet. Rinse the wringer off with clean water and let it air dry on top of the upturned bucket.
Those are the tools of the housekeeper’s profession. You should take good care of them so they do the job intended for each one. And, you in turn, are able to perform your job as a professional. But more importantly, the building occupants have a safe, clean and disinfected environment in which to recover from their injury, illness or surgery.
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