The Importance of Air Flow and Cleanliness in Hospitals

The Importance of Air Flow and Cleanliness in Hospitals

Keeping all things in your life a least a little clean is probably the preferable approach. It’s been a good hundred years at least that we’ve been equating godliness and cleanliness and that’s not a huge surprise. Science has come a long way in determining the cause and spread of disease. The most basic discovery our numerous studies have made is the importance of cleanliness when it comes to basic health and wellbeing. Over the years we have come to realise that in simply keeping our hands and living environments to a level of cleanliness, we could minimise, if not irradicate, many common illnesses and infections. It is therefore no surprise that we also came to realise that places our most vulnerable reside (such as hospitals and aged care facilities) must be held to the highest of cleanliness standards. 

A trip to the hospital is not on the top of anyone’s to do list, in fact, most of us hope we never have cause to go. We wholeheartedly hope that we remain healthy and uninjured ourselves but also that we don’t find ourselves needed in support of our loved ones. In Australia, we are extremely lucky that we are a country that values an equity of access to medical services. Unlike some other developed countries, we have Medicare to assist us with any costs and to ensure that in an emergency situation we are not fearful of the consequences of seeking help, or at risk of becoming bankrupt as a result. Like any public system, ours is far from perfect but we can still rely on effective and reliable emergency care whenever needed. To add to this privilege, we are also afforded ease of mind that the facilities will be state of the art and meet stringent health and safety requirements to ensure the best possible outcomes. 

Hospitals in Australia are regulated by governments and are required to meet a number of standards. These rules can often seem tedious and rather strict; however, they are put in place to protect both patients and staff alike. Simple procedures such as disposal of medical waste and wearing of PPE are there to protect the spread of diseases, whereas there are many other guidelines that are put in place to protect the physical safety of the building’s occupants. Due to the high-tech equipment used daily to save lives, hospitals have the potential to be death traps if appropriate safety measures aren’t followed. Most items such as heart rate monitors and adjustable beds are not generally considered to be dangerous, however other pieces of equipment certainly can be. It is due to these riskier items that rules must be put in place. These include things like ensuring a regular air compressor service and other checks on equipment with potential to be dangerous, along with extensive training and access restrictions to help medical staff provide expert service whilst minimising risks of accident. Similarly, purchase of items such as bariatric equipment aren’t just to increase medical equipment sales, these items can go a long way to ensuring that patients get the care they need, but also that nurses and doctors are not injured in the line of duty. 

Aged care facilities are obviously not held to the same standards as medical facilities as the risk of infection are deemed to be much lower. That being said, they are the home to our populations more vulnerable members, so there is still a great deal of care required when thinking of safety and health. Where a common cold will leave the younger population in need of a merely a few days in bed to recover, even a simple illness can have lasting (or fatal) consequences for aged care residents. Many of these residents are also suffering from varying levels of poor health simply due to the nature of getting old. Most are on regular medications to maintain things such as blood pressure and heart rate and almost all are there due to an inability to live independently. Full time residence in an aged care facility is far from cheap – not surprising as it is very like having a live in nanny but for the elderly opposed to the infants. As a result, it is expected that the services will be of a high standard, this includes the cleanliness. In ensuring that these aged care facilities are kept adequately clean and ventilated, we can help prolong the life of the inhabitants. For many this simple standard will also increase their quality of life as they will be more comfortable as well as healthier. 

Aged care facilities have had a bad rep recently which gave cause for a royal commission in 2018 – the findings of which shocked the general population. Tales of understaffing through to outright neglect were unending and it sparked a great debate into the rules and regulations in place to protect our vulnerable elderly who often cannot advocate for themselves. While changes are still being implemented, it is said that the Covid 19 pandemic has helped greatly to speed this process up. The number of Covid related deaths from aged care facilities has shone a large spotlight on the standards of care and living provided to its residents. It has all but forced regulations around standards of cleanliness and air flow to be put under a giant microscope and provided motivations to increase the services provided to better cater for the occupants needs. Whether we’re talking air flow from a screw compressor or the window, it is undeniably an extremely important factor when considering the care of our elderly. 

The most obvious answer to why airflow and cleanliness are so important in hospitals and aged care facilities are health and prevention of spreading illness and disease. However, it is arguably equally important for the standard of living or comfortability of those who benefit. Cleanliness doesn’t only impact our physical health; it is shown to greatly impact our emotional and mental health. There’s a reason we feel better after a good spring clean or having the windows open for an afternoon and being in the hospital or an aged care facility is no exception.