Antibacterial shower heads and the future in healthcare estates.
Quarterly deep clean of shower heads and hoses in public facilities is changing fast.
To comply with the guidelines contained in the ACoP L8 and HTM regarding shower heads and hoses, every shower head and hose must be dismantled (shower head into parts, piece by piece) and immerse them into a bleached solution for a certain amount of time (depending on the bleach concentration) every 3 months.
They should also be thoroughly rinsed and dried before being considered safe to reinstall. Then each one of the shower heads and hoses (assets) should be given an individual number and recorded into a log or software to prove they have all been appropriately disinfected within the guidelines. Of course this goes along with its inherent risks to both staff and patients alike.
Dealing with concentrated chemicals carries H&S responsibilities like COSHH and PPE that simply cannot be ignored and will add up to the already many tasks the Estates Manager has to deal with.
There are currently some hospitals buying cheap, non certified shower heads and dispose of them into landfill every quarter. Although this is complying with the above mentioned guidelines, the disadvantages of such procedure are clear.
In this day and age, opting for landfill when there are other alternatives is simply not something anyone should be considering. In the medium/long term there is a very high price to pay for landfill based solutions. On top of that, non certified equipment that is being used by the patients and staff somehow doesn't sound like a good idea!
This brings me to the newest alternative to quarterly deep cleaning for shower heads and hoses: recycling schemes that will supply brand new heads and hoses every 3 months, made of antibacterial materials and colour coded (a different colour each quarter to distinguish what heads and hoses have been replaced). There are several alternatives on offer in the UK market as we speak and they all offer similar characteristics, only varying in small details.
To set them apart, we should probably be asking the following questions:
• Are the hoses colour coded as well as the heads?
• Are the heads and hoses compliant and certified?
• If the scheme on offer is a part replacement only (so it seems cheaper), do you realise to be compliant anything not swapped out will still need to be quarterly deep cleaned and descaled? and if its deep cleaned quarterly what is its lifecycle? A five-year price is no good if the product lasts only 18 months before it needs replacing.
• Do the heads feature a low internal surface area?
• In case the scheme offers an all in/all out solution, are the heads fully recyclable and made of only recyclable materials?
• Is the collection process in place consistent and correctly designed to take away concerns with storage (because of leaks, high volume, etc)?
• And finally, are the prices offered realistic and truly competitive when compared to the traditional quarterly deep cleaning?
There are at least 4 or 5 different solutions to shower head and hose schemes currently being offered in the UK market. This clearly shows what direction guideline procedures might look like in the future. It certainly shows where the market is heading to, in a clear attempt to simplify otherwise costly, unsustainable and risky procedures.
Personally I have a clear favourite amongst the offers on the market but I will let you do your homework before you make up your mind!