What is the standard of care for textile floor coverings in senior living facilities?
Senior living facility carpet care protocols are all over the board. It is time to standardize carpet & upholstery cleaning specifications for all those who reside in assisted living health care facilities. Clean pro-actively instead of re-actively.
As a practicing Senior Carpet Inspector, a Master Cleaner and an industry cleaning consultant I decided dig into this. I have spent years watching different parties try to take the lead in this subject only to see it kicked around by state & government regulators, carpet manufacturers, cleaning franchises, private businesses, real estate investment trusts (REIT’S) and cleaning associations. Who really is responsible for senior living facility carpet care? Are the carpets, upholstery and floors being maintained in a healthy responsible way so that the residents can live comfortably in their most trying years.
None of us are getting any younger and I bet you or someone you know right now is residing in a nursing home, retirement home or assisted living community. With the last of the 28 million “silent generation” (1925-1945) and nearly 72 million “baby boomers” (1945-1964) approaching or past 65, senior living facilities are in demand. No matter if you have an in house cleaning staff or hire an outside service specific cleaning procedures and frequencies should be specified and followed for the health of everyone working or living in that facility.
So why focus on carpet and upholstery maintenance? Simple, because it is one of the things most overlooked when dealing with the sick, disabled or elderly population. Carpet is a very cleanable surface that can provide:
- insulating warmth,
- acoustic comfort,
- slip and fall protection, and
- assistance in trapping contaminates, soil and spills until they are removed
The problems occur when trapped soil, spills and moisture from food, drinks, tracked in dirt, incontinence issues or bathroom moisture track-off are not properly extracted and dried. This can present many of the components necessary that can cause allergic reactions and enhance the spread of infectious disease. It also can lead to intensify potential health issues in individuals harboring Chronic Immune Disorders, Autoimmune Disease or any number of other debilitating health issues present in occupants in nursing home communities.
There are three types of carpet cleanings that can occur in senior living facilities:
- Emergency carpet cleanings from spills or accidents
- Customized carpet maintenance of individual rooms requiring higher cleaning frequencies
- Scheduled carpet cleanings designed to maintain general appearance & health of common areas
Each of these may require very different carpet cleaning procedures, cleaning solutions and/or cleaning equipment. Many in house staff cleaners wear many hats. Carpet and upholstery cleaning training is often not sufficient. Most would not be able to tell you the difference between sanitizing a surface and disinfecting it, what the dilution ratio is for a cleaning agent or how to properly use the equipment provided.
- facility service technicians are supplied with a product(s) and a piece of equipment and are asked to “clean it up”.
- no maintenance schedule or plan exists.
- no formal training has occurred, opening up the opportunity for unhealthy biofilm build up.
A carpet and upholstery maintenance plan is usually not in place because many assume you should not clean until it looks dirty. Most property managers have never seen a carpet maintenance plan and have little knowledge of what the manufacture cleaning guidelines specify. This is only the beginning of the problem.
Why does carpet fail in nursing homes prematurely?
- vacuuming frequency and/or type of vacuum is not sufficient
- there is no maintenance program
- the funds to carpet clean proactively is not budgeted
- the expertise to do it right is not available on site
- the equipment is not working or on site
- carpet cleaning frequency is not specified
- proper carpet cleaning systems are not specified
Proper maintenance and care for anything requires a plan of action. With no plan, problems can escalate increasing costs and decreasing use life. With no training or “standard of care”, failure is inevitable. The elderly, disabled and those who can not clean for themselves need professional facility cleaners that follow proper cleaning specifications so that the health of the occupants are not negatively effected. Look for future posts on Standards for senior living facility carpet care.
If any senior living facilities are in need of assistance with in house training or customizing carpet and upholstery maintenance plans we are willing to help. We care about all of these residents. Call Eco Interior Maintenance for a free consultation 410-647-2800. We will travel up and down East Coast if needed.
-published by Doug Bradford CEO, LEED AP, SCI
Doug Bradford is one of the founders of Eco Interior Maintenance (DC, N. VA, MD) and Strategic Restoration & Maintenance (Central Florida). With over 30 years experience, some of his accreditation include: USGBC LEED AP, Chairing for 10 years the writing of the ANSI IICRC S100 International Textile Floor Covering Cleaning Standard, Content contributor for the Carpet & Rug Institute, RIA CR, Senior Carpet Inspector, Resilient Inspector and Mold Remediation Technician. He has developed cleaning products that clean, disinfect and protect textiles and hard surfaces for the cleaning industry, has been an instructor, an industry speaker, industry consultant to major corporations & textile manufacturers and has published articles in nationally recognized cleaning magazines.