Optimising Healthcare Hygiene: Sluice Room Equipment Solutions
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Infection prevention and control (IPC) is a critical priority for healthcare and social care establishments across the world – more so than ever after the tragic events of the Covid pandemic.
DDC Dolphin is a global leader in the design, manufacture and supply of sluice room equipment and other infection control solutions – safeguarding the lives of patients, residents and clinicians in hospitals, care homes and the wider community.
Medical pulp macerators, bedpan washer disinfectors and other sluice room equipment from DDC Dolphin enable healthcare and social care professionals to:
- dispose of human waste safely, hygienically, effectively and efficiently
- maintain or improve your hospital or care home’s CQC rating
- improve the efficiency of your waste disposal/infection-control processes
- get more from your budgets, reduce sluice room running costs, increase equipment reliability and lifespan
- improve and streamline procurement, reduce administration time and costs
- free up beds by avoiding additional demands created by infection outbreaks
- increase time available to deliver hands-on care
- improve staff compliance with infection-control best practice
- reduce the risk of costly medical negligence claims
- improve environmental performance, meet NHS net zero targets.
In this detailed guide, you will learn why a well-equipped sluice room is pivotal to the wider infection prevention and control practices in your hospitals or care homes.
You will learn about the various types of sluice room equipment, their benefits and how to source and operate them in the most cost-effective way.
2. Critical Importance Of Good Hygiene in Healthcare And Social Care
Maintaining good hygiene and practising the correct infection-control procedures is vitally important in healthcare and social care environments. It is more than a matter of professional responsibility – it is also a moral imperative.
Healthcare professionals have an ethical duty to provide the highest standard of care to their patients and residents. This includes taking all necessary measures to prevent infections.
Infection prevention protocols ensure the safety and well-being of patients and clinicians – and also protect the wider community from the potential consequences of unchecked infections.
Maintaining a high standard of hygiene and infection control is paramount for the following reasons:
- Safety of patients and residents – the primary goal of healthcare is to protect the health and well-being of the people in your care . Effective infection-control measures reduce the risk of healthcare-associated infections (HCAIs). These infections can lead to serious complications ranging from extended hospital stays to severe illness and death.
- Elderly, young children and individuals with weakened immune systems can be particularly vulnerable to infections. Effective infection control safeguards these people from preventable illnesses.
- Good hygiene and infection-control practices help to stop the transmission of bacteria, viruses and fungi between patients, residents and staff members. This is especially crucial in the context of contagious diseases.
- Timely and effective infection-control measures can prevent small outbreaks from becoming large-scale epidemics within healthcare and care home facilities. Rapid identification and isolation of infected individuals, proper hand hygiene and cleaning protocols are essential.
- Misuse and overuse of antibiotics can lead to antibiotic-resistant infections. This is a growing concern globally. Infection-control practices can help to reduce the need for antibiotics – and therefore slow the development of resistance.
- Healthcare and social care facilities are subject to stringent regulations and guidelines regarding infection control. Non-compliance can result in legal and financial consequences, as well as damage to the institution’s reputation.
- Maintaining a clean and safe environment is essential for the psychological well-being of both staff and patients/residents. This instils confidence and trust in the quality of the care provided.
- Infections can lead to increased healthcare costs due to longer hospital stays, additional treatments and the need for specialised care. Effective infection control can significantly reduce these costs.
- Controlling infections in healthcare and social care environments is not just about protecting individuals within these settings. It also contributes to public health by preventing the spread of infections beyond the facility.
Transmission Of Healthcare-Associated Infections (HCAIs)
Healthcare-associated infections can manifest themselves during or after a patient’s treatment. They would not have been present or incubating at the time of admission.
Transmission of HACIs can occur through various routes, including:
- Contact transmission – this is the most common way that HCAIs spread. It involves direct physical contact with contaminated surfaces, healthcare workers or other patients.
- Airborne transmission – microorganisms can be present in the air in healthcare settings and be inhaled by susceptible patients.
- Droplet transmission – infections can spread through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
- Vector-borne transmission – in some cases, vectors such as insects may carry infectious agents from one patient to another.
- Common source outbreaks – such as contaminated medications, medical devices or food.
Transmission of HCAIs can be rapid. The speed will depend on the vulnerability of patients or residents and their susceptibility to infection. But there are also other factors that can affect the rate of transmission…
Many healthcare procedures – such as surgery and the use of invasive medical devices like catheters or ventilators – can increase the risk of introducing pathogens into the body, leading to infection.
Furthermore, patients in healthcare settings are often in close proximity to one another (and healthcare workers move between patients). This close contact can facilitate and accelerate the spread of infection. This is exacerbated by high patient turnover; the frequent admission, discharge or transfer between wards can lead to the rapid spread of infections.
Some microorganisms are more contagious and aggressive than others. The speed of spread depends on the virulence and transmissibility of the specific pathogen. Compliance with infection-control measures greatly influences the rate of infection spread. Poor compliance can accelerate transmission.
Impact Of Healthcare-Associated Infections
Unchecked HCAIs can lead to a range of negative consequences, affecting not only the physical health and well-being of patients but also placing an emotional and professional burden on healthcare and social care providers. Moreover, visitors to healthcare facilities may be exposed to infection risks – leading to potential harm and also damage to a hospital or care home’s reputation.
Impact On Patients:
Physical health – HCAIs can cause a wide range of illnesses from mild infections to life-threatening diseases. Patients who acquire HCAIs often require extended hospital stays, additional medical treatments to treat the infection. This leads to physical suffering and discomfort. Sometimes even surgery may be needed.
Complications – HCAIs can lead to organ failure, sepsis and surgical site issues. These complications can be severe – prolonging recovery times. In some cases, they can lead to disability or other life-changing consequences.
Increased mortality – in some instances, HCAIs can be fatal, especially when they are caused by drug-resistant pathogens. Patients with weakened immune systems, such as the elderly, children and those with chronic illnesses, are particularly at risk.
Psychological impact – HCAIs can lead to distress and anxiety for patients. The fear of acquiring an infection while receiving healthcare can erode trust in healthcare providers and cause emotional distress and trauma.
Impact On Clinicians:
Emotional burden – doctors, nurses and other clinicians can experience significant emotional stress when patients or residents under their care develop HCAIs. This can lead to feelings of guilt and emotional exhaustion.
Increased workload – treating patients with HCAIs often requires additional time, resources and expertise. Clinicians may need to:
- spend more time on infection-control measures
- administer specialised treatments
- perform additional diagnostic tests.
Professional consequences – HCAI outbreaks in healthcare settings can harm the reputation of clinicians and the institutions they work for. They can also result in medical negligence litigation and can damage public trust in the healthcare system.
Impact On Hospital And Care Home Visitors:
Risk of infection – visitors can also be at risk of acquiring HCAIs, especially if they come into close contact with infected patients/residents or contaminated surfaces. This can lead to the spread of infections beyond the hospital or care home.
Disruption of care and support – when HCAIs occur, healthcare facilities often need to implement strict infection-control measures, including visitor restrictions. This can disrupt the ability of family and friends to support their loved ones during their hospital or care home stay.
Public perception – news of HCAIs in healthcare facilities can lead to public concern and distrust in the quality and safety of healthcare services, affecting the reputation and viability of the institution.
3. Types Of Sluice Room Equipment
Well-equipped and well-maintained sluice rooms are crucial to proper infection prevention and control in hospitals and care homes. They enable clinicians to handle and dispose of soiled or contaminated items quickly, efficiently and safely.
The sluice room is where healthcare workers can manage the various items that have come into contact with human waste or other potentially infectious materials. These include bedpans, urinals and incontinence products.
The three main types of sluice machines are:
These machines are pivotal to the successful operation of a well-run sluice room. DDC Dolphin’s advanced, modern sluice machines are designed for optimum infection control. Benefits include:
- hands-free operation – minimising the risk of cross-contamination
- antimicrobial surfaces that kill bacteria and neutralise viruses – reducing the risk of infection transmission
- intuitive easy-to-operate controls – for easy and error-free operation by clinicians and carers of all nationalities and linguistic proficiency
- large capacities, rapid operation and short cycles – so clinicians spend less time in the sluice room and more time delivering hands-on care
- low running costs – the machines use less power and less water
- energy-efficient operation – for a lower carbon footprint to help NHS trusts and care home operators meet their sustainability targets
- reliability – tried and tested technology that ensures maximum uptime for superior infection prevention and control.
Machine reliability is critical – any downtime means that waste has to be stored pending hygienic disposal. And the longer it is stored, the greater the risk of infection transmission.
And as unbelievable as it may sound, there are still some care homes that wash bedpans manually – putting their carers, residents and the wider community at greater risk of infection!
Macerators and bedpan washers are at the very heart of the sluice room – but they are merely one part of it. Delivering comprehensive infection control means putting in place a holistic solution that encompasses every aspect of best practice.
So a well-equipped sluice room will also need:
It is also important to consider how waste will be collected and stored if it is to be disposed of by third-party contractors. This waste must be stored safely prior to disposal if it is not to become an infection hazard.
Technology such as Vacumatic enables staff to collect waste safely by vacuum compacting, sanitising and hermetically sealing waste bags. VACUMATIC is a 100% hygienic and odourless waste disposal system.
And because it compacts the waste, it can help hospitals and care homes to save money if they pay for disposal on a ‘per collection’ basis (rather than by weight).
4. Regulatory Compliance And Hygiene Standards
Hospitals and care homes around the world are subject to a wide range of hygiene regulations and compliance standards to ensure the safety and well-being of patients, residents and staff.
In the UK, key regulations and standards include:
Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014
These regulations provide a framework for the inspection and regulation of health and adult social care services, including hospitals and care homes.
Compliance with these regulations is overseen by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), which is responsible for inspecting and enforcing standards of quality and safety in healthcare and adult social care services.
View the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014 >>
The Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) (Amendment) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2021
These regulations were introduced to address specific challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic. They outline additional requirements and standards designed to ensure infection control and the safety of patients and residents during the pandemic.
These additional requirements included use of personal protective equipment (PPE), greater emphasis on cleaning to prevent the spread of COVID-19, isolating and cohorting patients, increased staff training (notably on the use and disposal of PPE), greater use of telehealth and telemedicine where appropriate to reduce physical contact between healthcare providers and patients.
View the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) (Amendment) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2021 >>
Infection Control and Prevention in Healthcare Settings
Infection prevention and control standards and guidance are issued by various bodies, including the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).
These provide detailed recommendations for healthcare providers to help prevent and control infections.
Penalties for non-compliance with hygiene regulations in UK hospitals and care homes can be significant. They include fines, prosecution and the suspension or revocation of a healthcare provider’s registration.
The exact penalties can vary depending on the severity of the violation and the specific regulations that have been breached.
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is the primary regulatory body responsible for inspecting establishments and enforcing these regulations. The CQC conducts regular inspections of healthcare providers – including hospitals and care homes – to assess their compliance with hygiene and safety standards.
If a healthcare provider is found to be non-compliant, the CQC can issue warning notices, impose conditions on registration or prosecute the provider.
National Infection Prevention And Control Manual (NIPCM) For England
The NIPCM is an evidence-based practice manual for anyone providing care in England.
“It should be adopted as mandatory guidance in NHS settings (or settings where NHS services are delivered). Its principles should be applied in all care settings.”
View the National Infection Prevention And Control Manual (NIPCM) >>
5. Choosing The Right Sluice Room Equipment
Generally speaking, hospitals prefer medical pulp macerators while care homes tend to favour bedpan washer disinfectors. There are various reasons for this.
All establishments – be they hospitals or care homes – are concerned about sluice room infection-control performance. However, hospitals favour the convenience and peace of mind that comes with single-use pulp bedpans, commodes and bowls.
Used bedpans are placed in the macerator where they are shredded and flushed away. The process is fast: the bedpan and its contents disappear into the sewerage system – nothing has to be removed from the machine afterwards. This frees up more time for patient care.
However, care homes prefer bedpan washer disinfectors because of space considerations. Put simply, care homes are not as large as hospitals – and most don’t have the luxury of being able to dedicate large amounts of space to the storage of medical pulp.
Care homes are usually privately owned. They are under pressure to generate a profit for their owners. So as much space as possible has to be dedicated to paying residents – rather than medical pulp which sits on the ‘liabilities’ side of the balance sheet.
Reusable bedpans that can be cleaned and disinfected quickly and easily have a certain appeal when it comes to cost. They are purchased once – unlike disposable pulp bedpans which must be replaced.
However, there are other considerations…
Machine And Sluice Room Size
It’s obvious that your new machine has to fit your sluice room and integrate seamlessly with your new or existing set-up.
The newly updated Panamatic Midi bedpan washer disinfector offers 25% more capacity than its predecessor – putting it on a par with larger machines. It is also 33% more energy-efficient and 33% more water-efficient than the previous model.
DDC Dolphin offers a large range of options. Whatever the size of your sluice room, we have a machine to fit.
Cost: Macerators vs Bedpan Washer Disinfectors
Bedpan washers tend to be more expensive to run on a daily basis as they heat the water and have a longer cycle. A macerator uses cold water and has a much shorter cycle – but there is also the ongoing cost of pulp consumables.
It is important to remember that both types of machine have their benefits. And that both require other consumables, such as:
- bedpan washer scale inhibitor and wash
- macerator disinfectant.
Incontinence product macerators cost more to operate than pulp macerators and bedpan washers. They cost around the same amount to purchase but the running costs are higher.
Discover how government tax breaks can help care homes to fund the cost of new sluice room equipment. Under the government’s full expensing incentive, companies get a tax cut of up to 25p for every pound they invest in qualifying capital equipment.
Contact our expert team for more advice on the operational and servicing costs of each machine. Ask them about our 360° care and maintenance plans that:
- help you to own and operate sluice room machines more cost-effectively
- make sluice room budgeting easier and more predictable
- help to ensure optimum machine reliability and uptime.
Discover the cost-saving benefits here >>
Which Type Of Machine Is Better For Infection Control?
Medical pulp macerators and bedpan washer disinfectors both kill or neutralise 99.9% of harmful microorganisms.
However, macerators offer an added advantage in that clinicians do not need to handle anything once the bedpans or bowls have gone into the machine. They operate on a ‘flush and forget’ basis.
For a further comparison of the two types of machine, read this blog post.
6. How DDC Dolphin Helped These Hospitals And Care Homes...
Sanctuary Care – Complete Refurbishment Of 30 Sluice Rooms
Sanctuary Care needed bedpan washer disinfectors for 11 of its care homes in London, Essex, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire. But what began as a routine replacement of bedpan washers swiftly evolved into a much larger project.
Sanctuary realised that the sluice rooms would require remedial work to the plumbing, electricity supply, flooring and walls in order to maintain the high standard of infection control at the 11 homes.
Sanctuary had already hired electricians, plumbers, carpenters and flooring fitters to begin work on the project but was concerned about the lack of consistency in quality and the time required to coordinate the work of the numerous tradespeople.
During a routine customer care call from DDC Dolphin (to check how the installation of a Panamatic Maxi bedpan washer disinfector was progressing), Sanctuary explained how hard it was to source the right tradespeople for the pre-installation remedial work needed for the sluice rooms.
DDC Dolphin has a long and happy relationship with Sanctuary going back many years. We were able to provide a full refurbishment – a complete turnkey solution – for each of the 30 sluice rooms. This provided Sanctuary with superior infection prevention and control, greater efficiencies – and more time for hands-on care.
Read the case study >>
Queen Elizabeth Hospital – 32 New Medical Pulp Macerators
VINCI Facilities needed to review the condition of 32 ageing medical pulp macerators at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich in the Royal Borough of Greenwich. VINCI had worked with DDC Dolphin for a number of years, providing a range of sluice room infection control solutions to hospitals around the UK.
The macerators at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital were not DDC Dolphin machines. They had been supplied by another manufacturer. Machine reliability had become a significant issue; some macerators were nearing obsolescence, with spare parts taking a long time to arrive – it was an ongoing problem.
VINCI identified this as a potential risk to agreed service levels – one that could result in penalties from the NHS if the situation were allowed to continue unchecked.
DDC Dolphin carried out a full audit of all 32 medical pulp macerators at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital – outlining their condition and when they would need replacement. Following this detailed report, the hospital decided to replace all 32 of the old machines with new Pulpmatic Ultima macerators. The Ultima is DDC Dolphin’s biggest and best medical pulp macerator.
VINCI Facilities Assistant Manager Siân Faulkner said: “The support I got from (DDC Dolphin) Senior Account Manager Dez McCullagh was exceptional. He was extremely helpful and ensured this was a quick turnover from start to finish.
“Dez was easily contactable and always reached out to check on us and to see if he could help in any way. I was contacted during every step of the process. I found this extremely professional and cooperative.
“The impact has been extremely positive – freeing up time for me so I can turn my attention to other areas of improvement. I would definitely recommend DDC Dolphin to other companies. We look forward to working together on other exciting projects in the future.
“Dez has been an exceptional point of contact and we here at VINCI would like to say, ‘Thank you’.”
Read the case study>>
Juntendo University Nerima Hospital, Japan
Juntendo Hospital needed a dozen Pulpmatic Ultima and Uno macerators to help staff cope with the increased workload involved in dealing with a high number of bedpans.
The investment resulted in improved infection-control procedures – benefiting patients and clinicians.
Staff were able to spend much less of their day in the sluice room – an average of just nine minutes per day, compared with 41 minutes per day before the new macerators were installed.
Mr Tomohiko Iizuka (ICN) said: “Switching to medical pulp macerators greatly improved the sluice room environment and the cooperation between the Infection Control Team and ward staff. We were very impressed with the overall benefits of using this system.”
Read the case study >>
Oakland Care: Vacumatic Odourless Waste Disposal System
London-based Oakland Care has care homes in Essex, East Sussex, Kent and Oxfordshire. They provide the highest quality care, supported by an extensive team of trained, professional nurses and carers.
Sustainability has always been a core focus for Oakland Care. A key target was to reduce the volume of clinical waste at the homes. So Oakland trialled the Vacumatic 100% hygienic and odourless waste disposal system – and it proved to be a great success.
Vacumatic is safer and far more efficient than the method Oakland had used previously. And it has resulted in a much more pleasant environment for residents and carers.
Oakland Care Operations Director Malcolm Hague said: “We have been delighted with the Vacumatic solution. It not only supports our sustainable working practices, it has reduced the odour in the home, reduced the trips to the outside bins for the team members and made a significant cost saving on our clinical waste disposal.
“At Oakland Care we are exploring all avenues to act more sustainably, and this is a good example of where sustainability initiatives also have a cost saving and quality of life benefit. We are keen to work with partners that help us support our journey as the greener choice in care.”
Read the case study >>
DDC Dolphin has an extensive library of case studies outlining how we have helped care homes and hospitals across the UK and in Australia, Canada, Chile, Japan, Mexico and Singapore.
These case studies are divided into three categories – Hospitals, Care Homes and International – to help you find the information you need more easily.
View our complete library of case studies >>
7. Get Expert Advice On Sluice Room Equipment
Contact DDC Dolphin’s expert team for specialist advice on medical pulp macerators, bedpan washer disinfectors and other sluice room equipment. Benefit from our decades of experience, expertise and innovation.
DDC Dolphin Ltd
T: +44 (0) 1202 731555 Option 1
Aftersales Service Department
T: +44 (0) 1202 731555 Option 2
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