Home' Inclean : INCLEAN May-Jun 2016 Contents 10 INCLEAN May/June 2016
Aged care in Australia is undergoing
a massive transformation. Legislation
is changing to meet the demand for
consumer-driven care. Our population is
rapidly ageing -- the Australian Bureau of
Statistics predicts by 2064 the nation will
be home to 9.6 million people aged 65 and
over and 1.9 million people aged 85 and
over. And new generations of aged care
residents are demanding very different
standards of accommodation and care to
that of their predecessors.
Against this backdrop, aged care providers
are evolving their services with cleaning
being a key component. In fact, cleaning
staff have more interaction with aged care
residents than most people, points out Jacky
Downs, hospitality, innovation and quality
advisor for Blue Care -- one of Australia's
leading providers of community health and
residential aged care.
As a result, Blue Care is focused on
educating its cleaners throughout its
almost 60 aged care centres in Queensland
and New South Wales on the importance
"We're undertaking a customer service
model of training that assists our cleaners.
It's difficult at times when they go into a
room and someone wants to have a chat
and they're trying to do their work," Jacky
said. "So we're giving our people the tools
to give the residents their attention, but still
do their work."
Aged care cleaning is a specialised area, with
unique issues to address and Jacky indicates
the key to success lies in recruitment. She
likes to hire cleaning staff "with the right
attitude", but admits that like all aged care
organisations, Blue Care has struggled to
recruit good cleaners.
"One thing we are looking at is where we
advertise," she explained. "I've been saying
for a while that one of the best places for
us to advertise is in school tuckshops -- and
making sure our cleaning roster is flexible
enough to fit in with someone who can only
work during school hours."
This shakes up the long-used medical
model adopted by aged care, in which
cleaning begins at six in the morning.
"There's no need for us to clean at set times
-- as long as it is completed without causing
disruption to our residents," noted Jacky.
Jacky wants her hospitality team at
the top of its game. Firstly, all staff are
multi-skilled, so cleaners are also capable
of doing food service or laundry. This
provides more roster flexibility and opens
career paths for staff.
Cleaning rosters and recruitment are
done at a local centre level, and mandatory
training for new cleaners teaches person-
centred care. The training program, Tailor
Made, is the Blue Care program that
tailors care to each client's individual needs
to ensure their maximum satisfaction,
and covers infection control, outbreak
procedures, PPE, and chemical and manual
A cleaning guidelines book directs team
members in everything from how to clean
a bedrail to which chemicals to use, but as
Jacky states, "it's very much a discipline
where you learn by doing". So Blue Care
pairs new cleaners with buddies for a
few days to learn the processes, and then
evaluates them through a competency-
based system to ascertain if further training
Regular major audits and spot checks
ensures an ongoing, high level of cleaning.
"If the result of any audit doesn't reach
the required level then an action plan is
developed and must be completed within a
certain period of time," Jacky explained.
As Blue Care is such a large organisation,
products and equipment are another area
of focus. Chemicals are supplied through a
central contract, but there is a diversity of
equipment throughout the centres.
A few years ago, Jacky presented a paper
to her executive following a study she did
in an older facility, comparing the results of
traditional mop and bucket cleaning with
microfibre. "We found that not only did we
save an hour in labour, we also went from
0.24L to 0.005L of chemicals, and from 30L
to 0.6L of water," she revealed.
This has resulted in microfibre cleaning
being introduced at two recent Blue
Care builds -- in Brisbane's suburbs of
Cleaning is one of the most important factors in running a healthy and
sustainable aged care facility. But, as Jacky Downs of Blue Care reveals,
challenges from recruitment through to design must be addressed to ensure
aged care cleaners always provide a nurturing home for the elderly residents.
Jo Cooper reports.
Blue Care future-proofing its
aged care cleaning workforce
Carina and Redcliffe -- and a progressive
rollout through existing centres as part
of an increased focus on cleaning for
sustainability and workplace health.
Jacky is closely monitoring new cleaning
technologies for the future of Blue Care,
such as the use of tablets for auditing,
and said there will be other reforms as
generational change takes place in aged
The design and renovation of new aged
care buildings can also have an extensive
impact on cleaning, Jacky commented.
"Residents are increasingly looking for
hotel-style facilities aspects such as high
ceilings and intricate light fittings," she
shared. "These design elements give a
feeling of space -- however, when we are
designing a building we have to look at
what it's going to take to clean it and
make sure that is taken into consideration
Overall, though, the key to successful aged
care cleaning in the future comes down to
some simple elements, according to Jacky.
"Every aged care facility has to meet a
standard, and exceeding the standard all boils
down to the people that you recruit in the
first place," she stated. "It's the recruitment
and the training that make the difference."
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