Manager – Housekeeping
Aravind Eye care system
Organizing a Housekeeping Department:
The Housekeeping Department serves all areas and departments of a hospital. Hence the Housekeeping Department needs to be centrally located and close to the vertical transport system to facilitate easy movement of housekeeping materials and equipment.
Facilities and space requirement:
Housekeeping control desk:
- Office for the housekeeping manager
- Clerical work area
- Chief housekeeper’s desk and bulletin board to put up daily duty charts and other housekeeping information
- Store room for the housekeeping equipment and materials
- Housekeeping closets on all floors of the hospital with space and shelves for housekeeping equipment and materials, and trolleys. As a matter of routine, supplies for daily use should be delivered to their respective closets directly.
The housekeeping desk is the nerve centre of the entire department and its efficiency determines the smooth operation and effectiveness of housekeeping. It is the focal point for the dissemination of information and communication to various points in the Housekeeping Department as well as to other departments for co-ordination. The area of the control desk must have:
- Duty chart for housekeepers and sweepers
- Cleaning schedules
- Hospital staff room accommodation details
- Other general information and important announcements
Registers, files, forms:
- Patients’ room keys
- Office room keys
- Entrance key
- Housekeeping equipment and supplies list
- Attendance register for sweepers
- Request form for supplies and equipments from stores
- Request form for repairs to be carried out in other departments
- Inventories of supplies and equipment
- Checklist for patients’ rooms
- Year planning calendar
- Inventories of furniture and furnishings
- Inventory of linen
The Housekeeping Department has multiple functions to perform. Housekeeping services may be requested any time of the day or night, hence the staff structure must be so arranged as to provide the necessary services. Personalized services remains very much an important part of “quality” health care and this too is largely provided by the housekeeping department.
The Housekeeping Manager, as Head of the Department, must coordinate the performance of these functions for the most efficient operation possible. Since the housekeeper cannot single-handedly discharge all the functions of supervision, requisition, scheduling, budgeting and so forth, the Department must be organized in such a way that each of these jobs is capably done. Delegation of authority through a clear chain of command will accomplish this objective. It must however be remembered that although authority is delegated, the Manager retains full responsibility for the department.
Job Title: Housekeeping Manager
Reports to: Administrator
This is an important position in a hospital as it carries the responsibilities for the cleanliness, maintenance and aesthetic appeal of the hospital. An efficient housekeeping manager must possess a high degree of tact as well as good organizing ability, because of the need to work with other departments and with so many different people.
Job Title: Housekeeper
- Collaborate with other departments to ensure delivery of quality services
- Interview, select, train, evaluate and counsel staff in the hospital Housekeeping Department
- Instruct and advise staff on changes in policies, procedures or working standards
- Listen to the problems if any, of the housekeepers and sweepers and try to resolve them
- Conduct meetings with the housekeepers and sweepers separately to exchange ideas and solve problems
- Attend to the complaints and queries, if any, from other departments, or patients regarding the housekeeping functions and take necessary action.
- Go on rounds every morning to inspect the floors of the hospital and to correct any mistakes on the part of the housekeepers
- Prepare a report as required by the management
- Train all staff to efficiently perform the standard procedures as applicable to their job positions
- Work closely with the administrator on day to day housekeeping requirements
- Monitor departmental activities to ensure that maximum efficiency is maintained in the services being provided
- Assist in developing, delegating and monitoring departmental goals, objectives and programs to ensure timely completion
- Monitor the use of supplies and equipment and prepare a monthly request list including purchase of cleaning supplies
Reports to: Housekeeping Manager
Job Title: Sweeper
- Co-operate with the staff of other departments
- Deployment, supervision, control and training of staff
- Check the standard of cleanliness of all areas of the hospital
- Keep inventories and records of equipment and supplies
- Supervise and instruct the sweepers on the day to day activities
- Enhance the décor of different areas of the hospital with floral arrangements
- Control and supervision of the work in the linen room
- Train new recruits
- Check all the safety items on allotted floors
- Record all “lost and found” items on as per laid down norms
- Report to the Housekeeping Manager on sweepers’ performance
Reports to: Housekeeper
Job Title: Gardener
- Receive the allocation of floor and area of cleaning
- Clean the rooms twice a day
- Clean the common toilets and bathrooms twice a day
- Follow instructions and cleaning procedures given by housekeepers
- Take care of cleaning materials and ensure economical use of supplies given from the department
- Remove and dispose off refuse and rubbish at the assigned area
- Report missing or broken hospital property to the housekeeper
- Maintain a polite, dignified and helpful attitude toward the patient
- Hand over the lost and found articles to the supervisor
- Attend over daily briefings and give attendance
Reports to: Housekeeper
Responsibilities of the Housekeeping Department
- Clean and maintain the garden
- Take good care of newly cultivated plants
- Take an interest in adopting new technology in the development of the garden
- Water and prune the plants
- Be creative in arranging the plants in a garden
- Attend work regularly
- Daily cleaning
- Periodic cleaning
- Trash and garbage removal including proper hospital waste disposal
- Exterminating bugs and pests
- Preventing spread of infection
- Ensuring clean linen
- Safety and security of the hospital
- Creating an aesthetically pleasing environment
- Making the necessary arrangements for meetings, workshops and conferences
Qualities required in a housekeeper:
- Saving electricity by switching off lights and fans when not in use
- Ensuring an economical use of supplies
- Developing goodwill by a courteous, helpful and caring attitude towards patients and visitors
- Promoting safety rules and measures by observing them and reporting dangerous conditions
- Maintaining a harmonious working relationship with the staff of other departments
- Arranging accommodation facilities for visitors and providing food during their stay at the hospital
Recruitment, selection and training of manpower::
- Basic knowledge of health care and sanitation, including principles of bacteriology, chemistry and related sciences, applicable to the prevention and control of infections and communicable diseases. The housekeeper should also have the ability to convey this knowledge in a non-technical way to subordinate supervisors and workers so that it can be applied in their daily work.
- Ability to plan, administer and develop all phases of a comprehensive housekeeping program that will provide a suitable environment for the hospital’s medical and administrative activities
- General working knowledge of sanitation, laundry operations, linen service and interior decoration
- Ability to assign, supervise and evaluate the work of subordinate supervisors and their personnel
- An interest in people and tact in handling them
- A pleasant personality and the ability to converse with all types of people
- An ability to hide personal likes and dislikes and to be conscientious, fair and just
- Be strict with respect to punctuality and observance of rules and regulations of the hospital
- Loyalty to the hospital and to her staff
- A sense of humour
- A cool head to deal with emergencies
- Adaptability and willingness to experiment with new ideas
- Powers of critical observation
Having decided on the layout and facilities in the Housekeeping Department, the next task is to decide how many people are needed for the department. The number of people would depend on the structure of the hospital (block construction or cluster of rooms), number of floors and rooms per floor, number of public areas, size of landscape, the flow of patients and the time required for each task.
Recruitment and selection:
The Administrator of the hospital and Housekeeping Manager make the final decision regarding the selection of housekeepers. The process involved in recruitment and selection is:
Planning the selection schedule:
Selection criteria for housekeeping staff:
- Print application form
- Inform public and staff through bulletin boards, advertisements and by word of mouth
- Issue application forms
- Collect application forms
- Shortlist and file applications
- Arrange interviews
- Conduct written exam and interview
- Shortlist the selected candidates
- Send employment letters
- Conduct an orientation program for the selected candidates
- Conduct a basic training program
- Give an on-the-job training
||12th(HSC) passed with 500-700marks
||Fresh candidate with no prior experience in hospitals.
||Ability to talk clearly and politely. Ability to listen well. Ability to influence others.
Knowledge of knitting, drawing, stitching.
Understand and speak the local language
||Independent, responsible, open, bold, bright and pleasant disposition
||A low /middle income family
|Health and appearance
||Smart, clean, tidy, simple in dress.
Good health – should pass the medical test criteria
Basic training program for housekeepers:
The basic training schedule for the recruited housekeepers should be planned for a specific period and should cover all aspects of housekeeping. The Housekeeping Manager should appoint appropriate well-trained staff from the Housekeeping Department and other resource persons to conduct the training in the related field. The students can then be put on an on-the-job training.
The training schedule can cover the following areas:
Orientation schedule for cleaners:
- Introduction to housekeeping
- General rules and regulations
- Hospital work culture and values
- Housekeeping and patient relationship – interaction with patients to ensure patient satisfaction
- Housekeeping and other departments
- Ward management
- Bed making
- General cleaning procedures
- Cleaning of picture-frames and windows
- Cleaning the surroundings
- Cleaning the room
- Cleaning toilets and bathrooms
- Stain removal and polishing
- Cleaning walls
- Cleaning brass items
- Cleaning the lift
- Cleaning the water filter and cooler
- Maintenance and cleaning of drinking water tank. Chlorination
- Importance of checklists
- Maintenance and use of various equipment
- Other housekeeping activities like making articles for interior decoration
- Linen management and supply
- Waste Management
- Furniture care and maintenance
- Arrangement of meeting and conference hall
- Flower arrangement
- Problem solving
- Manpower planning and management
- Sweeper’s job description
- Effective communication
||General orientation about the hospital
Visit to all departments and wards of the hospital
General cleaning – demonstration and sweeping under the guidance of a housekeeper
||Sweeper’s role in the organization
Introduction to cleaning materials, equipment and supplies
Demonstration on the use of these equipment and materials
General cleaning – demonstration and mopping under the guidance of a housekeeper
||Teaching the significance of cleanliness and personal hygiene
Orientation on the different types of rooms
Demonstration on gardening, and cleaning the surroundings
General cleaning-sweeping and mopping under the supervision of a housekeeper
||Carrying out sweeping, mopping, cleaning the surroundings and gardening
Discussions with senior housekeeper regarding days off, leave, shifts, night duty, Sunday duty, welfare schemes, discipline and attitude expected of the cleaner
Demonstration of cleaning wash basins, walls, doors, windows, and stain removal
||Cleaning wash basin, walls, doors, windows, and removing stains under the supervision of a housekeeper
||Observation and cleaning of bathroom under the guidance of a housekeeper
This should be conducted periodically to upgrade the standards of cleanliness, or whenever the standards are not being met adequately. This can also be conducted whenever there is a change in policy, procedure or equipment.
Welfare of the staff:
To keep up the morale of the staff and to motivate them, it is important to provide a good working atmosphere at the hospital. This can be done by providing:
Good employees are hard to come by and once they are found, it is important to consider their welfare. Discipline should be maintained. Rules that are made should always be followed. Managerial policies should be consistent and every member of the staff should participate in the efficient and economic running of the department.
- Good working conditions
- Good working relationship and accessibility
- Incentive bonus
- Best employee award
- Statutory wages (provident fund, gratuity etc)
- Medical facilities
- Sick leave and maternity leave
- Meals when on duty
- Proper work methods
Supervising the workers and getting quality work done is an important role of the housekeeping supervisor.
The functions of the supervisor are:
Guidelines for effective supervision:
- Organize the work assigned to him
- Plan the task to be performed
- Direct the work of those responsible to him
- Co-ordinate the resources under his direction
- Control workers and resources
- Evaluate the total job performance and the individual
Routine inspection work is required to
- Workers should understand clearly what is expected of them
- Workers should get guidance in performing work
- Good work should always be recognized
- Poor work should be corrected by adopting remedial methods
- Unwanted action and behaviour towards workers should be avoided.
The supervisor should check each employee’s work on each area at least twice during a work period. The first check should be at the beginning of the work to ensure that it has been started on time, and that it is being carried out satisfactorily. The second check should be made before the work in each area is completed to ensure that the work is satisfactory and to inform the worker to correct any faults, if necessary. It is also important to check that the work is being achieved in the stipulated time.
- Ensure that correct procedures and methods are being followed, and to make any improvements
- Ensure that standards are met and maintained
- Allow action to be taken to correct defective work
- Identify responsibility for defective work
- Enable complaints to be dealt with effectively
Checks should not be carried out at the same time each day, as the staff would be alert and responsive. Spot checks in the course of the work period are useful. More frequent checks are necessary for new recruits who are under training.
Handling the difficult worker:
Evaluation of workers:
- Find out the reasons for the problem – health, personal problem, or problem with the work procedures
- Arrange refresher training if required
- Frequently monitor and supervise the work
- Ask them to repeat the work if found unsatisfactory
- Motivate him to adopt new procedures and techniques adopted by the department (inculcate positive thinking)
- Encourage the worker through incentives, and bonus for festivals.
In order to ensure continuing efficiency, it is important that the staff is evaluated from time to time. This exercise will be effective, if the following points are kept in mind
Organization of work
- Pay individual attention to each worker and supervise his work
- Observe if he completes his work in the stipulated time
- Help him if he has a problem related to his work
- Plan additional training for the worker, if you think he requires it.
- Observe his attitude to other workers in the department
A well managed housekeeping department relies on the ability of its housekeepers to organize work efficiently and manage the use of equipment, space and human labour with minimum effort. It is also important that she concerns herself with the staffing requirements and modern cleaning equipments, agents, and methods. She should study their advantages and disadvantages and bring into use those that make cleaning easier for her staff, spare time and ultimately cut down costs.
Work organization involves the preparation of:
- Work specification
- Work schedule
- Job procedure
- Work study
- Work simplification
Planning the cleaning procedure in a hospital:
- Work Specification
This is a detailed description of the work to be carried out in a specific area. There should be work specifications for every area covered by the Housekeeping Department.
Eg. Work specification for cleaning corridors:
- Collect the required equipment and materials
- Store the equipment and materials neatly in the corridor to be cleaned.
- Empty the waste bins and collect any other waste that may be on the ground
- Remove the dust from the walls, windows, curtains and picture frames
- Spot clean areas such as door handles, window sills and shaft
- Frequency of corridor cleaning – to be decided based on the patient flow
- Work schedule
This is a list of actual work to be carried out by an individual staff member during a particular period of the day. It would also include meal breaks and allow time for cleaning and tidying up of equipments. The number of schedules necessary indicates the number of staff required to clean an area once a day.
- Job procedure
This specifies the way a job is done and is to be prepared for each job individually.
Eg. Procedure for cleaning a telephone:
Materials: Damp cloth, dusters, disinfectant
Method: Dust the telephone completely with the damp cloth. Wipe down with a disinfectant solution paying attention to the dial, mouthpiece, phone. Wash, rinse and dry the dusters, and put them back in their place.
- Work study
A work study involves work measurements that are required to determine the work involved in a particular job, the time taken to carry out a job under normal; circumstances by an average worker. This helps in determining the number of staff required and in standardizing labour costs.
Eg. A work study on bed making showed that the distance covered by the staff during bed-making can be reduced if she were to strip the bed more systematically and did not tuck in the sheets and the covers till the end of bed-making.
A work study must be carried out whenever there is a waste of time, labour or material. When there is a delay in carrying out the work, or when the complaints made by patients increase, it is a sure indication that one worker is overburdened with work, and another is not fully occupied. This is an indication that a work study needs to be carried out.
A work study involves the following procedure:
A work study cannot be carried out unless it gets the full co-operation of the staff involved throughout the investigation. It is possible to get a clear picture of the old working method, and implement the new method only with the full support of the staff.
- Select the job procedure and identify the problem
- Observe and record the present work method
- Develop an improved method
- Conduct periodic checks to ensure that the improved method is working satisfactorily
- Work simplification
While a worker is busy and on the job, the muscles of his body need moments of rest between motions. Tensed muscles produce neither high quality nor great quantity of work. The worker finds the work easy or difficult depending on the way he uses his body. New methods need to be developed to make the work easier and to reduce the stress factor for the worker.
A few methods of work are listed below:
- Movement of the worker should be limited to the minimum necessary.
- The work should be in a pattern of curved line motion
- Both hands should begin and complete a motion at the same time
- Arms should move in opposite and symmetrical directions to give the worker proper balance
- Daily activity should be restricted to normal reach level. Objects out of reach can be cleaned periodically
- Use of different parts of the body should be restricted to a minimum
- Before starting work the equipment and materials should be arranged
conveniently to avoid unnecessary movement
- Wherever possible, adjust work heights to make the work easier.
Cleaning requires a systematic and planned approach, both, towards the individual tasks involved and towards the hospital’s cleaning operations as a whole. This involves two areas:
The cleaning process:
- The cleaning process
- The work schedule
The objective of the process of cleaning is to remove as much dirt as possible without damaging the surface, and to prevent dirt from resettling. To do this effectively and safely, we need to identify the different types of dust and stains involved, along with ways in which they are introduced into the building. This information helps to decide which cleaning method, equipment and materials are most appropriate. The Housekeeping Department should establish methods of cleaning and work schedules.
The work schedule:
Before any cleaning program can be carried out, a suitable work plan must be drawn up. The work schedule gives the actual work to be undertaken by a particular staff member during a particular period of the day. This should take into account several factors, which affect the way in which the work is carried out. These factors include:
- Standard of cleanliness: Cleaning standards vary in different parts of the hospital. In every hospital, the area of work can be classified as high risk and low risk areas. The standard of housekeeping services depends on the level of risk.
Housekeeping cleaning standard has been defined as:
Housekeeping cleaning standard = method x frequency
When cleaning methods are correctly selected, correct equipment and agents are used for each surface and cleaning tasks are carried out methodically, the housekeeping standards are said to be efficiently met. The following table shows the standard of cleanliness required in different areas of the hospital:
|High risk areas
(operation theatres, special units)
||Highest possible standard of cleaning, dust and infection control
|Medium risk areas
||High standard of cleaning, and infection control
|Low risk areas
Corridors, offices, waiting areas, patient rooms
||Good standard of cleaning, absence of soil, dust and stains
- The activity in the area and the time of day: Consideration should be given to the level of activity and amount of traffic in the areas to be cleaned. Where possible, cleaning will be undertaken when these levels are at their lowest. Each part of the hospital has a primary function which should be disrupted as little as possible. Cleaning should fit in as modestly as
possible with the main activity of that area. Administration areas
and most departments have a standard working day. Hence
cleaning in these areas can be programmed to take place either
before or after working hours.
- The planning schedule: The Housekeeping Department should plan and apply a systematic cleaning procedure. This includes:
Daily and weekly schedule: This includes all tasks that are to be carried out regularly in a specific functional area on a predetermined basis set by management according to area usage and the need for cleanliness. (dusting, sweeping, mopping)
- Daily and weekly cleaning schedule
- Periodic cleaning schedule
Periodic schedule: This includes tasks, those additional to, but in combination with routine tasks, which have a frequency of once every 15 days or once every month. (changing curtains, removing stains, polishing, cleaning water tanks, cleaning septic tanks) records should be maintained to show when and where a particular task is started and completed.
- Frequency of cleaning: Frequencies are to be based on sound quality cleaning, especially as they relate to “routine” cleaning. A set time schedule is not considered appropriate for routine cleaning. If an area requires cleaning, it should be cleaned, if it does not require cleaning, it
should not be cleaned. Cleaning on the basis of “it has to be cleaned
everyday even when it does not need it” is not applicable.
Even though waiting area, patient examination area, refraction area and pathways are considered low risk areas in the hospital, frequency of routine cleaning is to be followed to keep the area clean all the time. The area supervisor should check now and then and instruct the sweepers to go for special cleaning.
The following table may be used to plan the frequency of cleaning:
||Frequency of cleaning
||Patient flow is high; rainy season
||Provide doormats at the entrances and clean them frequently
||4-6 times a day
||Patient flow is high
||Twice a day
||Emergency, spillage, vomiting
||Take immediate action to clean
||4 times a day
||Take action immediately
||Twice a day
||Four times a day
|Once a day
||Twice a day
||4 - 6 times a day
||Patient flow is high
||Use odonil, a good disinfectant
||Twice a day
||Sprinkle water to settle dust
- Use of appropriate cleaning agents
||Time for cleaning agent to act
||Frequency of use
|Floor, tiles, wash basin, outside of w/c closet, flush tank
||LOC, Vim or any other good detergent
||Twice a day
|Floor, glass mirror
|Toilet closet and all stain removal
||Once a day
|Mopping the floor. Cleaning the toilet
||Twice a day
|Septic tank- 1kg/wash
|Drawers, wardrobes, sinks
|Toilet odour control
Effective communication between housekeepers and workers is very important. Generally the cleaners are illiterate and recruited from the rural areas. Hence they understand only very simple language. Thus, it is necessary for the housekeeper to use very simple language when explaining the work procedures, so that the workers are not mislead into using incorrect procedures. This will lead to poor quality work.
Factors to be considered:
Poor communication results in:
- Workers should understand clearly what is expected of them
- Unwanted actions should be avoided
- Use simple and clear language
- Adopt demonstration methods to explain the work procedures
- Proper job specification
- Two-way communication is essential to avoid misunderstanding the work procedure
- Guidelines given to the workers should neither be over commanding, nor easy. They should be moderate.
- New policies and procedures should immediately be communicated to the workers and their queries clarified.
Inter departmental relationships:
- Following incorrect cleaning methods
- Improper use of cleaning materials and equipment, which results in increased costs
- Taking more time to finish the given task
- Arguments with the housekeeper
- Frequent absence from work
- Discontinue from service
One of the most important functions of housekeeping is the maintenance of keeping furniture, fixtures and facilities in working order. Housekeepers need to constantly check on various things throughout the hospital on a daily or a weekly basis and inform the maintenance department through a requisition form about any repairs that need to be done. The maintenance work could cover a number of aspects such as plumbing, carpentry, electricity and civil works. Hence a close coordination with the maintenance department is absolutely necessary.
Hospitals stock all housekeeping equipment, materials and supplies, except linen, in the general stores. Coordination with the stores ensures availability of day-today requirements of housekeeping. Housekeepers can indent materials from the stores on a daily or a weekly basis. These indented materials can be issued directly to the staff or can be stored inside the department or under the staircase with proper safety measures. The stores consult with the Housekeeping Department regarding purchase of materials.
Most small hospitals prefer to outsource laundry on account of limited space and manpower. Larger hospitals usually handle the laundry in-house to issue clean and quality linen to the operation theatres and other departments. Whether in-house or out-sourced, coordination between hospital and laundry is very important. The housekeepers should check the need and use of materials with the ward staff. The senior housekeeper should maintain registers for checking stock and transaction of materials, planning the laundry process, and salary of in-house dhobi.
The Nursing Department works closely with the Housekeeping Department. It is this department that is involved in bed-making in the patients’ rooms, and informs the Housekeeping Department about any requirements by the patients. The Nursing Department also contacts the Housekeeping Department if there is any need for emergency cleaning in a specific area, in case of spillage, breakage, or if the patient has vomited. The nurses maintain the admission and discharge details of the patients. When the patient is discharged, it is the nurses who check the room, lock the door and handover the key to the housekeeper. The housekeeper then sends a sweeper to clean the room thoroughly and get it ready for the next patient.
If a hospital has catering facilities, then the kitchen and dining room needs to be cleaned at least twice a day. This comes under the purview of the Housekeeping Department. The Housekeeping Department also needs to co-ordinate with the Catering Department when making arrangements for guests and special occasions.
The Housekeeping Department deals with the Personnel Department for the recruitment of the housekeeping staff, salary administration, indiscipline and grievance, identity cards for the staff, promotions and exit facilities.
Since every department in the hospital needs to be kept clean, the Housekeeping Department interacts with every department. When electrical equipment is not working or a door does not close properly, it is the Housekeeping Department that takes down the complaint and makes sure that the problem is rectified. Thus, the Housekeeping Department is an important and indispensable department in the smooth functioning of a hospital.