(Digest of JLA’s contribution to Issue 27 of ‘The Carer’, by our in-house Chemist Jackie Hook)

As care homes face mounting difficulties in combating COVID-19 through the winter months, finding ways to keep staff and residents safe is more important than ever.

Research shows that Coronavirus can live on fabric and textiles for up to three days. It’s therefore vital that linen (especially that which residents or staff come into direct contact with) is removed, stored and washed as safely as possible. With huge emphasis on infection control in care homes’ laundry facilities – and increasing number of visits likely from CQC inspectors – here are six of the most important recommendations every home should follow.

Avoid shaking down, rinsing or sorting linen when removing it from residents’ rooms. Instead, carefully place it in a red bag, tie the bag, then secure it in a secondary bag to be placed in the allocated ‘dirty’ laundry trolley.

Store all laundry baskets in a designated and safe area once filled, away from both residents and staff ready for washing (or collection by a contractor).

Process linen as quickly as possible and do not leave overnight before washing. This will ensure any stains are not allowed to dry into the fabric, and the microbial challenge will be reduced.

Thoroughly review your current washing system (whether in-house or through contractors). When researching potential new laundry systems, look for systems that have undergone extensive testing to demonstrate just how effective they are at removing the coronavirus infection.

If using ozone, make sure your supplier has documentation to ensure they support the products under the EU Biocidal Products Regulation. The regulation exists, in simple terms, to ensure that a product’s performance meets recognised standards and that no adverse affect on the environment, human or animal health exists as a result of its use.

Wash and store all health workers’ uniforms on-site rather than allowing them to be taken home for laundering. In addition to guarding against cross-contamination during a commute, using commercial washing machines provides better control of the wash process in comparison to domestic washers, which aren’t designed to deal with infected linen and may not be compliant with UK water regulations.

Read JLA’s full contribution to the discussion around current infection control best practice for care homes on page 14 of  The Carer (Issue 27), with expert insight from our very own chemist Jackie Hook.

If your business is closed during lockdown, or your organisation is only partially open, you’ll still need to make sure your critical appliances are maintained properly – to keep them in good condition while not in use and minimise breakdowns when the time comes to load them again. This quick guide will help you ensure the basics are covered, but we’re always on hand if you need further advice, servicing or repairs.

Washing machines

Quick maintenance checklist

Start by running the machine on its hottest setting

Open the door when the cycle ends and air for a few minutes

Completely turn off the water and electrical supply

Clean the door seals, soap drawer, and all external surfaces

Keep the door open to prevent mould from building up

Other things to consider

Water inlet filters – If blocked, the water efficiency to the machine will be reduced, causing the wrong water usage levels to be calculated, increasing utility costs.

Inlet and outlet hoses – Ensure there is no water leaking from either hose, which can occur at the connections and joints in particular. You should lok for and remove any build-up too – left uncleared, this can cause increased utility bills and even breakdown.

Belts – These should be checked twice a year, and belts that have damage, cracks, or splits need to be replaced. Spotting a worn-out belt and replacing it can prevent the machine from being out of service when you need it again.

Tumble dryers

Quick maintenance checklist

Firstly, clean the lint filter thoroughly and dispose of all lint

Using a vacuum attachment, hoover the inside of the machine

Lastly, cut off the gas, water, and electricity supply

Other things to consider

Exhaust duct – Check the duct for lint or other debris and remove if possible (vacuuming is a good way to do a basic clean). While duct cleaning isn’t a critical necessity during lockdown, you might want to book a visit ahead of time so you can hit the ground running safely when things return to normal.

Dryer belts – These should ideally be checked annually under normal circumstances, but our experts recommend a lockdown check while things are quiet and the machine is in use.

General laundry area

Ensuring the work environment around all commercial equipment is clean is extremely important. Any rubbish, debris or dirt that has built up could create a fire hazard or cause damage to your machine if it finds its way into the drum.

After following the quick maintenance tips above, and checking the other elements of your machines that might need attention, carry out a final sweep around the appliances (mop all floors if possible), and clear work surfaces as much as possible.

We’re here to help in whatever ways we can during this difficult time for businesses. If you need to help with any commercial laundry maintenance during lockdown or beyond, contact our friendly experts today.

Having a piece of kit go down is every chef’s worst nightmare. Planned preventative care can help you to avoid unnecessary downtime while ensuring the optimum performance of all your mission-critical kitchen apparatus, improving its lifespan, and minimising energy consumption.

How to avoid downtime in your professional kitchen

The benefits of pre-emptive maintenance

Prevention costs less than cure 

Quite simply, it’s a false economy to wait until something goes wrong, with the expense of calling out an engineer every time you have a problem far exceeding the costs of regular care.

Not only does preventive maintenance cost less than repairing or replacing broken equipment, you can also factor it into your monthly cashflow, so you never receive any nasty surprises.

For example, take a refrigeration malfunction; not only can this result in a huge repair bill, but it also brings the additional cost of having to discard your valuable stock. And that’s something all commercial kitchen operators want to avoid.

Avoid downtime

By routinely servicing your professional kitchen equipment, there is less chance of it breaking down when you need it most, helping you to avoid the financial implications of downtime to your business and your reputation.

Save money with energy savings

Regular essential maintenance not only saves you money when things go wrong, but it can also deliver cost-savings to your business on a daily basis.

In fact, a study examining the consumption of electricity in the commercial kitchen found that poor levels of care significantly contribute to excessive energy use in refrigerators, while in some cases maintenance can deliver electricity savings of up to 45%.

Keep compliant

Adequate maintenance is essential to help meet the requirements of the Food Safety Act, and to ensure your cooking, hot holding, and chilling equipment is working correctly and won’t let you down.

There are more than a million cases of food poisoning every year in the UK, but when it comes to the health of your customers, ignorance is not an adequate defense. Contravening food safety legislation can result in severe penalties – including an unlimited fine, or even imprisonment.

Properly maintained professional kitchen equipment can help make sure you meet your obligations, reducing your exposure to risk, and protecting your hard-earned reputation.

How to ensure proper maintenance of your professional kitchen equipment

Start by creating an inventory of all your essential kitchen equipment. Then, set out what needs to happen when a repair is required, including who is in charge of handling it and who else needs to know. Consider where you track this information, and whether you need to hire an engineer to make repairs, or if there someone in-house who has the skills needed do this (properly!).

You also need to set up a preventive and routine maintenance programme. To do this, you must instill good to day-to-day practices in your commercial kitchen to help your employees look after your equipment properly. Did you know, for example, that just by putting a filter in your fridge you could save £92 a year? Not only will regular care help prolong the lifespan of your equipment, but it will also help to ensure that any warranties remain valid.

Next, be sure to shop around to find a suitable maintenance package which meets the various needs of each of your items during their lifetime.

Depending on the equipment this could include:

    • Temperature validation
    • Machine optimisation
    • Duct cleaning
    • Annual service
    • Emergency engineer response

And a quick tip – it’s also worth considering whether renting makes more sense than purchasing outright – particularly if this includes a regular maintenance package to keep your kit in top-notch condition.

In a commercial kitchen, keeping your professional kitchen equipment in optimum working order is not just important for ensuring food quality and consistency, it is business critical. As such, ensuring you have the right kitchen equipment in place, and that it is looked after correctly is essential.

By putting aside a set amount each month to cover the costs of regular maintenance, you can save your business money, keep compliant, and be sure to avoid product downtime. Ultimately, letting you get on with what you do best – cooking consistently high-quality food.

Are you considering upgrading your catering equipment to help improve hygiene standards and protect your valuable reputation? Find out how you can do just that by contacting our friendly experts today.

We’re excited to announce further accelerated growth in our fire and security division, with the acquisition of two more specialist businesses. Firewatch South West Limited and ITS Fire & Security Limited are the latest additions to bolster our national capabilities in the areas of commercial facilities that matter most to our customers.

Both companies, based in Devon and Surrey respectively, provide a full breadth of key products and services from the design, installation and maintenance of fire alarm systems, fire doors, signage and extinguishers through to fire risk assessments and training. ITS will also boost our security credentials with services covering intruder alarms, CCTV and access controls.

Fire is a rapidly growing addition to the JLA family of critical asset supply and service propositions which also include commercial laundry, catering and heating. The company is a trusted partner to 22,000+ customers across a diverse range of sectors including healthcare, care homes, schools, hotels and social housing.

“Alongside our other acquired fire businesses,  these two key industry players, Firewatch South West and ITS, will expand our capabilities and national coverage significantly with the addition of 50 engineers, many of whom are cross-skilled.   As the newest critical asset division in JLA we are proud to see the growth we have achieved in fire and security in just two years, and we are excited about the huge opportunities going forward with our national coverage.”

Rob Harris, Managing Director of Fire at JLA ​

“JLA was the perfect fit for ITS. Becoming part of a growing national group will enable us to strengthen and expand our offerings to our clients and means we can provide a truly exceptional service across the country.  We are all looking forward to the exciting road ahead.”

Tim Dyer, Director at ITS Group

Browse JLA fire safety solutions