(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.