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News archive - January 2014

Infection control drives washroom design

Infection control drives washroom design

Practical, functional and robust. These are the all-important buzzwords when selecting bathroom and washroom products for healthcare environments. Procurement of specialist sanitaryware and other equipment is driven mainly by the continuing focus within the healthcare sector on infection prevention and control.

This means commissioners are seeking solutions that are specifically designed to improve hygiene by facilitating more-effective cleaning and eliminating potential dirt traps that promote bacterial growth.

Health Building Note 00-10 Part C: Sanitary Assemblies provides specifications for English health trusts on floor finishes, walls and partitions, and sanitaryware and pre-plumbed assemblies for use within patient and clinical areas. As such it has become an important starting point for both manufacturers and specifiers.

In terms of infection control, the guidance states that any panels that are a part of a sanitary assembly must be ‘easy to clean, durable and impervious’.

Controlling bacteria

In addition, the recent deaths of four babies in Northern Ireland of the waterborne Pseudomonas bacteria means the focus is increasingly on controlling the build-up of bugs within water systems. This is also key in combating cases of Legionella, which is found in many water pipes in older hospital buildings in particular.

Such drivers have led to the creation of new sanitaryware products, in particular taps and mixers, which have been adapted to enable water systems to be flushed out more frequently and to deter the growth of potentially-harmful bugs.

Among the companies that have launched dedicated ranges is Gainsborough Specialist Bathing. A manufacturer of assistive baths for the hospital and care sectors, the company has developed its portfolio in close conjunction with care providers and healthcare professionals.

Speaking to hdm, Brett Smith, the company’s national sales manager, said: “With the restrictions in capital funding there is an ever-increasing demand for justification on spend. When selecting new products it is therefore beneficial to discuss requirements fully.

“Naturally products should be practical, functional and robust, with comprehensive levels of service and aftercare available through the supplier. Speed of turnaround is also vital in maintaining a fully-operational facility; an important consideration for busy hospitals and care homes.”

One of the first considerations when selecting items for healthcare environments is the typical manoeuvres that will take place within the room. This will affect the positioning of things like toilets, sinks and baths.

Smith said: “In general, larger room size is more usable for the nursing staff and may well allow the fitting of both assisted bath and showering options.”

He added: “The right product design is also critical in assisting with the management of infection risk. Product surfaces should be durable, easy to clean and maintain, particularly in areas that are difficult to access as they may potentially increase the risk of bacteria forming.

“To assist with the management of infection control programmes, as a manufacturer we continue to focus heavily on research and development. This ensures our products can be utilised in even the most-demanding of environments.”

This has led to the formation of 3D room visuals, which are part of Gainsborough’s end-to-end service and enable health trusts to see exactly how rooms will look before any building work takes place.

Armitage Shanks is another big name in the marketplace. In April last year it published its own guide for health commissioners.

Hospital Solutions: What Works and Why is an informative guide to hospital sanitary assemblies, outlining the key considerations and showcasing a number of products designed to work within these environments.

A life or death decision

Countour21, for example, is a range of ceramic basins and WCs specially designed to help combat healthcare associated infections. Basins do not have any tapholes or an overflow, chain or plug. Instead, they have concealed fixing brackets and integral back outlet, meaning there are virtually no reservoirs in which water can promote the growth of bacteria.

The company’s Markwik21 and Sensorflow21 are also designed to fight against Pseudomonas, in particular, with bug-busting copper elements and optional purging and disinfectant kits available.

Aside from infection control issues, sustainability is also becoming increasingly important, with all healthcare projects having to achieve BREEAM ‘excellent’ or ‘very good’ ratings.

This means estates and facilities managers are seeking solutions that help to reduce water and electricity use.

A spokesman for Armitage Shanks said: “Choosing sanitaryware and fittings for hospital use can literally be a life or death decision. The need to deliver water and remove waste efficiently, reduce cross infection and cater for the physical limitations of patients demands a lot from every sanitary installation.

“As a company we have a long history of working with the Department of Health to determine the functional requirements of hospital sanitaryware. We continue to design and refine products specifically for hospital use in line with the requirements of HTM64, a healthcare standard we helped to define.”

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