How to clean up with a five-star audit rating

How to clean up with a five-star audit rating

The new National Standards for Cleanliness have focused trusts’ attention on complying with the crucial 50-point check. But are they seizing this opportunity to improve the effectiveness of their cleaning processes, rather than just treating it as a tick box to get a clean bill of health? Audit scores are about more than compliance, which should be just the start. 

The audit criteria are extremely precise, which means if you can analyse, understand and act on what your data is telling you, you can transform your trust’s scores. A fully connected system will allow you to view your data regularly, moving you to a state of continual assurance, instead of compliance at the point of audit. You need to start seeing your audits not as a check on failure, but as a tool for constant improvement.  

Whatever the score, pass or fail, it contains vital detail that can help you to improve your cleaning operations.  

Valuable insights 

The standards specify how healthcare facilities should be cleaned in minute detail, but it’s up to you to understand the underlying reasons for your scores, good or bad. This makes a fully integrable system vital. 

We all know that old or damaged equipment can harm your score. And we’re not necessarily talking about sensitive medical equipment – it could be something as innocuous as the ancient microwave staff use to warm up their lunch. This is just one of the reasons it makes sense to work closely with your trust’s maintenance team. These insights are only possible when you can access and examine all the relevant data to identify cause and effect. 

When a hospital audit involves examining every room individually, pinpointing which question is the most common point of failure and making a tiny change will have an enormous impact across the hospital as a whole. Identifying recurring issues gives you the option to adjust your training or even run a dedicated session focused on a specific area to get an instant uplift in your score. 

Joined-up systems 

A digital solution gives you the ability to spot recurring issues across the trust and resolve them efficiently. For example, if your operating theatre walls frequently lose chunks of plaster to hospital beds as they’re wheeled in and out, repairing each defect piecemeal could be time-consuming and costly. You could get them fixed en masse with a digital solution, which allows you to log the location and a photograph of each defect during the audit, removing the need to return and assess the size of the job before obtaining a quote from the contractor. 

If streaky floors are a consistent problem, examine the data to discover why. Is this a localised problem? Are mop heads changed often enough? Are cleaners adding too much product to their water? And are they using an ‘S-shape’ motion to clean surfaces and floors?  

Don’t shoot the cleaners! 

Cleaning failures aren’t automatically the responsibility of the cleaners. Other departments’ actions can affect hygiene standards: cleaning and waste management, for example, are intrinsically linked. The standards acknowledge this and they emphasise the importance of proper training on procedures and the clear delineation of responsibilities for infection prevention and control. 

Another example of this concerns the risk of ‘transference’ – when cleaning solutions become contaminated during use and need to be regularly replaced to prevent the transfer of micro-organisms from one surface to the next, particularly when cleaning heavily soiled areas. Complying with this audit requirement involves not just the act of cleaning but also the management of your supplies and the understanding of your assets. This could well be another team’s responsibility – another reason having a joined-up system is essential. 

The best digital solutions help you uncover root causes of audit failure by creating feedback loops, visualising the data in dashboard reports. One of our clients, an NHS trust, uses mpro5 to manage both its maintenance and cleaning processes. This allows it to seamlessly link any audit failing to a maintenance task, log the remedial action taken with photographic evidence, and close the feedback loop quickly with minimal administrative effort. 

So, as I said in my last article, rather than asking software providers for endless features, instead ask: “How can I use your software to improve my cleaning standards?” 

To find out more...

visit our Healthcare page to read more about how we help NHS Trusts adapt to ever-changing compliance.