Healthcare Furniture & Infection Control: What to Consider
Healthcare-acquired infections (HCAIs) are a serious risk for patients, staff and visitors. HCAIs pose a threat in all care environments, including hospitals, surgical centres, clinics and long-term care facilities such as nursing homes and rehab centres. Under the Health and Social Care Act (2008), all health and social care providers must ensure that they have systems in place to monitor and manage the risks from HCAIs.
Find out more about the unique considerations for healthcare furniture below and how sourcing the most suitable products can help improve welfare across your facility.
How to ensure you minimise infection with healthcare furniture
Sourcing and fitting out a complex environment such as a healthcare facility where the key priority is the 24/7 needs of everyone in that facility, present and future, is no simple task.
Architects, Designers, and Facilities and purchasing managers will all testify to the difficulty of picking medical furniture that is just right. The healthcare arena is demanding and you need furniture that can meet every demand without compromise.
Minimising infection risks across your site can not only improve patient comfort and welfare but can also help reduce costs incurred by extended and repeated patient stays.
Update outdated furniture
Billions of pounds are invested into new technology, IT tech and medical equipment for the NHS to provide a better, more efficient service. However, when it comes down to the very basics of medical care, patients and staff require furniture for basic functional necessities such as comfort and storage.
In any medical facility in the United Kingdom, it’s inevitable that you’re going to find a variety of furniture throughout the wards, facilities, theatres and wider premises. This will have been sourced over many years and will have developed with the needs of the centre as time has passed.
So if money is being allocated to update technology and administration, why should furniture be allowed to become outdated when it poses a risk to patient welfare and not just the day to day running of the premises?
Furniture can experience high levels of wear and tear in healthcare environments and is subject to deterioration. Deterioration can make furniture unsafe and hinder the coverings that protect against pathogens.
Outdated or aged furniture may possess physical wear that makes it unable to inhibit the growth of bacteria. Tears and compromised fabric can allow pathogens to seep into the material and reside, whereas an undamaged, unimpaired surface can simply be wiped clean. Splits and rips, and even furniture that has not been updated to recent standards and materials, can become hotbeds for germs.
New furniture from a visionary supplier is up to date, up to standard and up to the job.
Choosing the right materials
As mentioned above, fabric choice is integral to fighting off the risk of HCAIs.
The anti-microbial and anti-fungal protection of good-quality, high-performance vinyl prohibits the growth of bacteria, associated odours, infection and cross-contamination. An efficient wood finish for a worktop or table will be sealed with a high-quality, clear lacquer. This is because it is not only durable but contains antimicrobial agents to suppress the growth of microorganisms.
A suitable medical material will not absorb spills and is easily wiped clean, making it ideal for use in high-risk infection control areas. Plus, the materials are often easy to clean and can be sufficiently treated with warm soapy water. This maintains appearance and durability.
Medical furniture design steers away from the creation of ‘dirt traps’. Years on years of R&D investment have influenced medical furniture manufacturers to reduce gaps, creases and stitches—all areas where microorganisms nest and burgeon.
All of Benchmark’s medical furniture has the option to use anti-microbial surfacing materials for areas where additional infection control is required. Our counters and storage solutions, whether for reception areas, research spaces or treatment rooms, are manufactured from high-quality, easy-to-clean materials.
All the materials we use remain stylish and contemporary so that a welcoming, reassuring atmosphere is never overlooked, as we understand this is just as much of an important part of the patient and visitor service.
Ensure furniture is compliant
Medical furniture should be manufactured following the advice set out in Healthcare Technical Memorandums (HTM 63 & 71 for cabinetry, worksurfaces & storage).
Healthcare providers have a duty of care to ensure that appropriate governance arrangements are in place and are managed effectively. The Health Technical Memorandum series provides best practice engineering standards and policy to enable management of this duty of care.
To ensure your furniture meets appropriate standards, you need a supplier that builds the healthcare values into their products. Benchmark’s range of healthcare furniture is respectively created from the guidance laid out in HTM 63, HTM 64 and HTM 71. That way, you can ensure furniture meets expectations for a variety of applications in a healthcare environment.
Keep it all under control with Benchmark’s healthcare furniture
Whether it’s retrofit, replacement or a complete first-time fit-out, Benchmark’s range of healthcare furniture is designed to meet standards for infection control, appearance and comfort.
Our high-quality furniture makes healthcare environments more efficient, more organised, cleaner and more capable of maintaining patient and staff welfare. Combined with our decades of experience and on-site manufacturing, we take the time and care to make sure our client’s and their future users get all the resources they need.
For infection control confidence and functionality first care through medical furniture, we’ve got all the solutions you need.
This article was written by Dean Fryer, Estimator at Benchmark FF&E Solutions since 2012.
Passionate about the collaboration between sub-contractors on-site and a demonstrated history in assisting building contractors and architects with producing comprehensive and definitive schedules at pre-tender and pre-contract stage, Dean is an invaluable asset to Benchmark Products and contributes towards the end goal of perfect delivery every time.