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Floor cleaning equipment Q&A 1 Dec, 2014

1. What are the key issues/challenges at the moment for floor cleaning in hospitals and how have your products/services evolved to address these?  

One of the main issues is the time it takes to complete cleaning tasks. Budgets are under pressure and there is a need to do more with less, so cleaning in a quicker, more efficient way, helps to achieve this aim. The well-being of operatives is also a concern, so machinery design is developing to make things physically easier.  

Safety is another very important consideration, especially in busy environments such as hospitals. As we move into winter bad weather brings mud, debris and leaves, as well as salt and grit into healthcare environments, causing slippery surfaces and scratching floors. These scratches can then harbour dirt and germs.  

The Multiwash has long been one of the most popular floor cleaning machines in Truvox International’s range, and earlier this year we introduced the 340/Pump Battery model.

The new machine includes all the features that make the Multiwash so successful. It can wash, scrub and dry both hard and soft floor coverings in a single pass, leaving floors ready to walk on in minutes. A choice of brushes allows operatives to undertake normal, maintenance cleaning or intensive scrubbing, and it is quiet in operation, providing minimal disturbance for people using the building that is being cleaned.

It is also extremely effective on ‘difficult’ floors, such as non-slip safety floors, low pile carpets, escalators, travelators, and entrance matting; and it’s also easy to manoeuvre, not just when cleaning, but between sites and locations, too.

Safety flooring in particular is on the increase in hospitals, and this poses no problems for the Multiwash. Hospitals have to adhere to very strict infection control rules, which favour the use of natural detergents and taurine-based products. However, for these chemicals to be properly effective on safety flooring they need to be applied by a machine that provides thoroughness through its continuous brush agitation and consistent pressure contact with the floor. The Multiwash performs exceptionally well in both these respects, and it also allows the chemical sufficient contact time with the floor, enabling it to be even more effective, before the area is rinsed and dried.

Any floor surfacing material can be cleaned by the Multiwash, and not just what’s flat on the floor. The machine’s optional side brush enables cleaning to ‘skirting board’ level, which is especially important with safety flooring, as it tends to curve up the wall before it finishes, and in places like wet rooms.

A choice of brushes is available, for normal, maintenance cleaning or intensive scrubbing. The brushes run at an effective speed and pressure, and don’t produce too much friction, which can sometimes cause damage to specialist flooring. They can be colour-coded to prevent cross contamination, and being made from poly-propylene they are easy to disinfect, and don’t harbour bacteria like natural fibres can.

This versatile machine enables hospitals to clean to the very highest of standards, helping in the constant fight against infections, and the crowning glory of the Multiwash is that it does it quietly. Quietness is an important issue for healthcare settings, as noise can be an unwelcome and distracting intrusion, which can have a negative effect on the recovery of patients.

There has been a huge growth in primary care community hospitals, where many elderly people, and those with specific conditions such as dementia, are treated. A calm, quiet, safe environment is essential in the treatment and care of these types of patients, especially as daytime cleaning is so prevalent.

2. How does the latest floor cleaning technology counteract any possibility of ‘operator error’?

The Multiwash makes conventional mops redundant, because it actually removes the dirt rather than just move it around. The machine ensures that clean water is being used all the time, negating the need for operatives to change the water, and making dirty conventional mop heads a thing of the past. Also, the Multiwash needs minimal maintenance and cleaning to remove bacteria from crevices or hoses – so all in all, it helps operatives to provide a more thorough clean, with no room for error.  

3. How has the equipment evolved to make the operator’s job easier ­ both in terms of achieving the desired result and the physical effort required?  

The Multiwash allows operatives to clean with an upright stance, putting less stress on their bodies. Conventional mopping takes much more physical effort and can be very tiring, whereas the Multiwash just glides over surfaces without the need for pushing and pulling. Health and safety is enhanced by the fact that the battery version has no trailing leads to cause trips, and because it cleans and dries in a single pass, there is less chance of slips due to wet flooring.  

The fact that we have an aging population – and workforce – is something that is influencing floor cleaning machine designs. Older operatives simply can’t undertake the physical activity that they used to, and cleaning is very physical. Any way we can reduce the effort needed to clean is beneficial – making machines lighter and easier to transport between locations also helps.  

4. How are standards of clean measured/audited?  

Health inspectors first check that floors are visibly/aesthetically clean and dust free. They also check for safety – a clean, dry floor is a safe floor. However, a floor that looks visibly clean in not necessarily contaminant free, so further checks may be necessary.

Case studies

Glasgow Royal Infirmary

The Glasgow Royal Infirmary (GRI) is a large teaching hospital, operated by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde. It provides a broad range of regional, supra-regional and national acute clinical services, and has over 70 wards. In addition, it has a busy accident and emergency department, including major treatment rooms for patients with serious injuries, a separate minor injuries unit and a resuscitation unit with six bays.  Furthermore with two x-ray facilities all its floors require regular, effective cleaning by equipment that won’t let them down.

The Truvox Multiwash – a multi-purpose floor cleaning machine that washes, mops, scrubs and dries on both hard and soft floor coverings in one single pass – was selected for use after a number of demonstrations and product comparisons had taken place. Versatility was the key factor in the decision taken, as the machine could cope with all the different types of flooring surfaces found in the hospital – including reception areas, offices, wards, clinics, treatment rooms and canteens.

Margaret Scott, assistant domestic services manager at the GRI, reveals that the Multiwash has brought many different benefits in terms of ease of use for cleaning staff, and wider results for the hospital itself. “The rotary brushes are particularly effective for tiled floors as they get deep into the grout lines, and the Multiwash also helps us clean hygienically in quick time – something that is essential in the very busy labour ward birthing rooms.”

Horsham Hospital

Horsham Hospital is a two-ward, 50-bedded community hospital, owned by West Sussex Health, and it has seen an increase in the use of safety flooring over recent years.  

“We have had issues over the last few years with more and more safety flooring being installed,” explains the hospital’s facilities supervisor, Stephen Partlett. “This is tricky stuff to clean as our existing buffers tended to glide over the top. What we really needed was a machine that would ‘dig into’ the floor without damaging it, and remove the dirt rather than just spread it around.”

After various demonstrations, the Truvox Multiwash was chosen. It was primarily chosen for its quietness in operation, excellent manoeuvrability, and effectiveness on ‘difficult’ floors, including non-slip safety floors, low pile carpets, tiles and escalators.

Thanks to its contra-rotating brushes the machine exerts just the right amount of extra pressure needed to tackle grime in the grouting of tiled floors, as the bristles safely dig deep into porous tiles and grout lines, loosening and removing soils. As the brushes are so effective, it uses about 30 percent less water - which means less chemical - making it easy on the environment and the user. In addition, using less water means floors are dry in minutes, making the machine perfect for busy facilities like Horsham Hospital.

Stephen Partlett concludes: “The key benefit the Multiwash is delivering is a marked improvement in the patient environment. Hospital floors are very visual things. If they are seen to be dirty it gives a very negative perception of the cleanliness of the rest of the hospital.”

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