A spotlight on care homes
It has always been important to maintain vigorous standards of cleanliness in care homes, but never has this need been more visible than over the past 18 months. The rise of Covid-19 shone a light on the necessity of hygiene as an infection control measure – but it also highlighted employers’ duties of care to their teams.
Care homes found themselves at the front line of the fight against the transmission, working to protect residents and staff alike in order to reduce transmission and save lives. Naturally, many staff had concerns about their own safety and that of their families, and sought reassurances from their employers that all available steps to protect them had been taken.
Care homes responded in various ways, but common among them was a revamped approach to cleaning, segregation and infection control. Here, we speak with Croll Healthcare, a family run company in Essex with over 60 employees, about its approach to protect its staff and residents during the pandemic.
Electrolysed water technology combating Covid-19
For group manager Tanya Crosby, the initial onset of the pandemic was confusing for care home staff and managers alike: “It was a tough period to manage and incredibly difficult for our employees. We had no guidance, no testing, no PPE, no way of knowing if staff or patients had Covid or not – nobody really know anything at all. It was very unnerving, especially considering the huge rhetoric about the dangers of Covid that was taking place nationally.”
This level of uncertainty created much apprehension and fear among her team, and she decided to tackle the problem head on by investing in a disinfectant cleaner technology already in use in the far East to keep coronaviruses at bay.
“Technology is rapidly advancing and that’s just as true in the cleaning world as elsewhere,” said Tanya. “I was really intrigued by the approach that many far Eastern countries took to containing Covid-19, and particularly interested in how they applied the lessons they’d learned during the SARS outbreak. Many were using electrolysed water sprays to create effective disinfectant cleaners which were sprayed all over – on the streets, on public transport systems and so on – to clean entire cities.”
Introducing Toucan Eco
Tanya found the Toucan Eco cleaning system through Robert Scott. Toucan Eco uses electrolysed salt water to kill germs and clean all kinds of surfaces. Its technology has been in use for decades, but in recent years has become widely adopted in countries such as Singapore, Japan and Korea.
Certified to antiviral EN 14476 and EN 16777, and antibacterial EN 1276 and EN 13697, the spray it creates kills more than 99.99% of germs – including coronavirus. Its multi-use approach is ideal for the care home sector, as it can be used to clean and sanitise any surface including in kitchens, bathrooms, bedrooms, soft furnishings, as well as a deodoriser.
“It’s phenomenal,” says Tanya. “We use it in all of our homes. Its cleaning power is exceptional and even our most hardened bleach fans have been converted! But it also made our team feel safe in the early days of the pandemic. They could disinfect anything and everything with it, including their clothes and personal possessions, helping cut the risk of community transmission.”
Searching for eco-friendly cleaning
Croll had already decided to move towards adopting ecologically friendly initiatives wherever possible, and Tanya had been actively researching environmentally friendly cleaning alternatives before the pandemic struck.
“We wanted a solution that we could spritz everywhere without worrying about the health implications of inhaling the solution or getting it on our skin,” said Tanya. “We don’t want our staff or residents breathing in excess chemicals. Our homes are meant to be where we can support the aging process – we don’t want to make it worse. And I think the chemical use everywhere is very much overkill. We wanted to strip back to the ideologies of a few generations ago when more natural cleaning methods were used.”
The Toucan Eco uses tap water, salt and an electrical current to create hypochlorous acid and sodium hypochlorite – which act as a disinfectant and a cleaner, respectively. Because it’s made without chemicals, it doesn’t leave a chemical residue or have an odour. It also has a neutral pH, making it kind to skin.
Immune system chemistry
Steve Courtney from Robert Scott added: “The electrolysis replicates the human body’s immune system response to infection. When we come under attack from invading bacteria and viruses, our immune system responds by sending white blood cells called neutrophils straight to the infection. Once activated, these cells produce the same hypochlorous acid, a potent and naturally occurring disinfectant.
“Toucan Eco mimics this approach to develop a cleaning solution that cleans, disinfects and deodorises without using chemicals, single use plastic bottles, has a minimal shipping impact – the Toucan Eco has multiple green benefits, and it’s proven to be just as effective as bleach and other cleaning agents.”
At Croll, the system is being used as the main cleaning product at all three care homes.
Hill House, one of the three Croll care homes, cares for 20 residents. Its housekeeping team is led by Corroll Beale.
Corroll said: “We’re conscious of the amount of cleaning chemicals we use at Hill House. We want it to feel homely for residents – not like a hospital – and smell plays an important part in this. We aim not to use strong smelling chemical cleaners whenever we can, not just because of odour but also because we don’t want our residents to breathe in chemicals all day.
“The Toucan Eco helps us achieve this. We can spray all the surfaces multiple times a day if we need to and it never leaves a smell. We know our residents are protected by the disinfectant, but we’re also protecting their lungs and their skin because there are no nasties in the cleaning products we use.
“Ultimately, we all want to create safe, welcoming spaces for our residents and protect the people working with them. New cleaning technologies can help us achieve this.”
Find out more about the Croll Group at www.crollgroup.co.uk.