You’d be forgiven for assuming that pretty much every space within a doctor’s surgery would be nothing less than a beacon of hygiene. But when you think about it, reality paints an entirely different picture.
The reason being that when and where you fill any room with an incalculable number of sick (or potentially sick) people throughout the day, it is inevitable that it will become a breeding ground for germs and bacteria. Suffice to say, nobody heads to the GP or dentist with the intention of getting sick, but research suggests this is what happens in a great many instances so healthcare cleaning is of big priority.
Recently, The Care Quality Commission reached out to GP practices up and down the United Kingdom to think long and hard about the provision of soft furnishings and children’s toys in waiting rooms. Though clearly a suggestion geared toward the greater good of the public in general, the idea of completely banning anything comfortable or entertaining from waiting rooms was met with widespread criticism.
So assuming you would prefer to keep cleanliness and hygiene in your own waiting room at the highest possible level, what do the experts advise?
First and foremost, one of the most effective ways of both keeping a waiting room under control and furthering infection control efforts is to minimise crowding as much as possible. This means being both strategic and realistic when it comes to appointment scheduling, in order to ensure that the waiting room itself never becomes uncomfortably or dangerously overcrowded. This also makes it much easier to keep the waiting room in a clean and sanitary condition throughout the day.
As it’s the case in any environment, the more cluttered and chaotic the waiting room is, the more difficult it will be to keep things under control. It’s not to say that waiting rooms have to be painfully sterile, but at the same time it’s important to think minimal when it comes to anything that isn’t 100% necessary. If it is something you and your patients can do without, consider getting rid of it.
These days, it is becoming increasingly common for waiting rooms to provide a variety of booklets and leaflets to be taken away by patients, rather than magazines to be shared indefinitely. Where magazines are provided, there is very little that can be done to ensure they remain hygienic, other than to ensure they are replaced on a regular basis.
Hand Sanitizer and Washing Facilities
Encouraging patients to wash their hands and use hand sanitizer can also make a big difference when it comes to infection control in the average waiting room. If every patient was to fully sanitise their hands both upon entering the building and when exiting, their respective likelihood of picking up a virus or infection would plummet exponentially.
Regular Cleaning of Toys
Last but not least, it will always be important to provide toys, games and distractions for younger children, but this doesn’t mean that they cannot be chosen strategically. Think more along the lines of hard plastic toys that can be effectively sanitised, rather than soft toys or those that feature materials likely to harbour germs and bacteria.