85% of UK hospitals currently rely on maceration to dispose of human waste. Whether you’re already part of this percentage, or considering joining it soon, there are some important questions to ask yourself before a new machine is installed.
In order for a pulp macerator to do its job well, it’ll need to be installed in a way which optimises its use and prevents issues from developing later down the line.
Ask yourself these five questions before your installation date to ensure that your new macerator is ready to work effectively, protect against HCAIs and provide efficiency for your facility.
1. Do you have an appropriate place for the macerator to be fitted?
Wherever your macerator is going to be installed – be that a sluice room, ward or en suite – the floor below the machine should be fully sealed, to make sure that any leaks are obvious.
In addition, if the macerator can’t fit tightly against a rear wall, you should ensure that the gap is boxed in, to stop items falling behind the machine and becoming hard to recover. Similarly, there should be plenty of space in front of the macerator, so that both clinicians and maintenance technicians have easy access.
If you have underfloor heating, or any other service beneath the flooring, make sure that the technician fitting your machine is aware. They’ll need to fix the macerator into place using suitable adhesive, as opposed to the traditional fastenings.
Your macerator should also have plenty of space to be used properly; in particular, the lid of the machine should be able to open and close without obstruction.
2. Have you considered the macerator’s surroundings?
Your macerator, when properly used, will provide impeccable defence against infection by ensuring that hazardous waste is disposed of safely. The space surrounding the macerator is also an important factor in allowing that protection to be maintained.
The ‘clean’ and ‘dirty’ areas in the sluice room should be clearly mapped, prior to any installation of equipment; this will allow the clinician to use items such as macerators, bedpan washer disinfectors and slop hoppers without contaminating other areas, as well as being able to wash their hands at critical times.
These actions will ensure that the bacteria inside used waste containers can’t spread around the sluice room, let alone back to patient or public areas.
If your macerator includes a disinfectant system, you’ll also need somewhere safe to store the necessary chemicals.
This should, ideally, be a lockable cabinet or cupboard, located no more than a metre away from the machine, as well as being in clear view of the worker in charge of keeping disinfectant topped up.
3. Are your staff trained to use sluice room machinery?
Macerators will provide a multitude of benefits to clinicians, particularly in terms of saving time in the sluice room, maximising time with patients and preventing the spread of infection (where they, too, are at risk).
However, if a macerator isn’t correctly used, it can cause serious problems. Breakdowns from misuse can result in the machine experiencing downtime, which will disrupt your usual infection control operations; consequentially, HCAIs are more likely to spread around the facility, causing a host of difficulties including staff pressure, financial burden and patient distress.
To stop preventable maintenance issues, staff should be fully trained in macerator use, before it becomes part of day-to-day activity. They should be well-versed in which items can be put inside the machine (such as medical pulp, maceratable wipes and human waste), as well as what can’t be (syringes, towels and incontinence pads).
In addition, clinicians should be confident regarding how many items a macerator is designed to process in a single cycle, as overloading can also cause blockages.
4. Can you ensure the use of macerator-friendly products?
Once your staff are trained to use a macerator, it’s important to keep the right products in stock. Before your new macerator is installed, be sure to have an adequate supply of pulp containers to hand – especially if you’re making the transition from reusable bedpans.
You should always use the chemicals recommended by the manufacturer which are formulated to suit your particular machine. This prevents maintenance issues later down the line – corrosion of internal parts, for example.
5. Do you have a contingency plan for macerator maintenance?
If you take good care of your macerator, it’s likely to have a long and reliable service life. However, without regular maintenance (or access to emergency cover, in the event of an unexpected breakdown), you could be putting your infection control procedure at risk.
To protect your sluice room operations, be sure to consider DDC Dolphin’s 360° Care Cover, which will guarantee all of your maintenance needs at no extra cost.
Including a 5-year warranty for parts and labour (as well as service and maintenance visits over the same timeframe), 360° Care Cover will provide ultimate peace of mind; there’s even a pre-installation site survey and sluice room health check, to ensure that your macerator can be safely and effectively used from day one.
Whether you’re upgrading your sluice room or building a new one entirely, DDC Dolphin can assist you with the entire process – from design and planning, to installation and commissioning. Contact us today to discover more.