A well-planned and properly equipped sluice room is a cornerstone of hygiene and freedom from cross infections. The sluice room is where used disposables such as incontinence pads and bed pans are dealt with, and reusable products are cleaned and disinfected.
The four key elements required in setting up the sluice room are:
• soiled area, for dirty items
• hand washing facilities
• macerator for disposables and flusher/disinfector for reusable items
• clean storage area, well separated from the soiled area
Although the risk of infection from dirty laundry is low for healthy people, guidelines have been established to ensure that any possibility of cross-infection is kept to an absolute minimum.
To save water, energy and staff time, you can use disposable hygiene products, which combine a hermetically sealed bag with an absorbent gel pads inside. Bags are available in a range of sizes, to line commodes, bedpans, basins and toilets. There are also biodegradable versions, which can be safely buried.
Many care and nursing homes opt for a contract with an outside laundry service. If laundry is processed on the premises, then a dedicated laundry room is required, away from areas where food is stored, cooked or eaten. Industrial washing machines, which include a sluice cycle as well as a hot wash, must be used. Industrial dryers are also recommended, to ensure that linens are properly dry.
Foul linen, which has been contaminated with bodily fluids, should be placed immediately in a water-soluble bag, in which it can be washed, before it is put in a linen bag. In this way handling by staff is kept to a minimum. Linen should only be sorted in the laundry room, and never sluiced by hand, because of the risk of spraying contaminants around.
Like the sluice room, the laundry room should have a clean area, where fresh linens can be ironed and stored, well away from soiled items. There should be hand washing facilities in the room, too.