How to source the right healthcare cleaning supplies

Getting a cleaning supplies contract right is integral to healthcare procurement.

Hospitals, clinics, GP practices and care settings have a clear focus on environmental hygiene and hand hygiene because both are critical to the prevention of healthcare associated infections (HCAI).

Case reports and outbreak investigations have shown that poor environmental hygiene leads to HCAIs in healthcare settings (Dancer, 1999; Garner and Favero, 1986). Healthcare providers who fall short of the NHS Code of Practice on the Prevention and Control of HCAIs risk receiving improvement notices.

While procurement teams will want to seek out suppliers with the best commercial solutions, an ability to price-match and on time delivery, they’re also aware of the need to look more closely. It’s a question of patient and staff health and helping to protect the organisation against regulatory measures, loss of public trust and reputational damage.

Staff training, end user education and decontamination procedures may be familiar day to day processes for clinical and non-clinical staff alike, but procurement can improve matters from the outset with some essential groundwork. These are five steps to take when setting up a cleaning supplies contract:

Focus groups

Knowing what is needed to improve processes means interactive sessions with the people who need the products to work. It isn’t unheard of for procurement teams to have limited knowledge of the cleaning products in use, or to lack knowledge of how the cleaning budget is being spent beyond a certain brand name or cost basis.

Before they make any recommendations, suppliers should be looking to talk, on site with end users, including cleaners. Discussing what they do, and what they believe they need to do their job even better, is a fundamental step in moving forwards.

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A mile in your shoes

Cleaning suppliers should be looking to walk in the shoes of every product user connected to the organisation by spending time with them while they do their job. This will help to uncover training issues and also ensure products are used more efficiently.

Seeing first hand what users do each day, and what products they really use and why, is important. Suppliers can use the opportunity to establish other issues, about the products that end users might prefer to use, what they need to achieve, how much of each product they think they need to use, to help deliver the best outcomes.

Consulting users also helps to ultimately alleviate pressure on the procurement team, who can get negative feedback users at the end of a buying decision. Involving end users means getting things right at the start and minimising challenges.

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Smart training

90% of cleaning supplies value is inextricably linked to your people. If they aren’t using the products properly you will not be achieving value. Good suppliers will be looking to help you by producing a development plan to up-skill your people and ensure best practice.

Users can be resistant to change. They may be familiar with certain products, even if these aren’t always doing the best job. Moving them onto products that will help them do their work better and improve processes needs training support.

Cleaning suppliers should help the organisation to create, track and measure a development plan that will put in place the best possible measures to deliver a safer and smarter working day.

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Innovation

Having a bespoke cleaning solution for any healthcare organisation requires suppliers to take insight and feedback from their sessions with end-users to inform future innovation.

Suppliers should be constantly using their facilities management and supply chain expertise to ensure their cleaning solutions for every organisation continue to evolve and improve.

KPIs

Looking for proof of concept from cleaning suppliers matters. Before signing on the dotted line with any supplier, procurement teams should have KPIs agreed, so they can measure the impact and results across their organisation.

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