Introduction to Housekeeping

Navaz Clement
Manager – Housekeeping
Aravind Eye care system

Housekeeping is one of the basic functions essential to the operation of a health care institution. House keeping services, also called environmental services are of vital importance in providing a safe, clean, pleasant, orderly, and functional environment for both, the patients and the hospital personnel. A clean and hygienic environment has a tremendous psychological impact on the patients and the visitors, and speaks volumes of the quality of service the hospital provides. Since it is difficult for lay people to judge the practice of medicine in a hospital due to lack of medical knowledge, opinion about a hospital is often formed on the basis of its appearance and cleanliness.

Good housekeeping is an asset and a powerful tool for public relations. It has a direct bearing on the prestige and reputation of a hospital. As housekeeping serves all departments and areas of the hospital, minimizing the risk of cross infection and providing a clean, safe and comfortable environment are fundamental to any good housekeeping service. Hospitals must believe that this department is an essential addition for quality service.

The Housekeeping Department’s work has advanced rapidly in recent years and requires not only knowledge of technical skills but also an understanding of the “Tools of Management”. A large part of the house keeper’s time is taken up with personnel management, as it is the housekeeper’s responsibility to manage the cleaners who are universally acknowledged to be the largest class of human resource and are the most difficult to manage. The aim should be to have an efficiently run department with operating cost as low as possible; thus providing a clean, comfortable and safe environment. The Housekeeping Department should not be considered in isolation, as it is an important source of information for many other departments. Hence a co-operative and pleasant staff helps to provide a cordial and congenial atmosphere in the hospital.

The Housekeeping Department is a non-revenue producing service department in a hospital. However, a poorly run department results in money needlessly spent, creates a negative impression on the patients, visitors and staff, and adversely affects their perception of the quality of care provided by the hospital. This in turn leads to fewer patients frequenting the hospital, which in turn affects the revenue.

Housekeeping Department
The main objective of the Housekeeping Department is to keep the hospital clean, safe and infection-free, yet maintain a pleasant and friendly atmosphere. The House Keeping Department works closely with other departments in making the hospital a pleasant and safe place for the patients.

As the patient enters the hospital, he comes through the reception hall, and as the prescribed basic examinations are carried out, the patient is taken to several areas in the hospital. At each of these places the patient notices various aspects such as cleanliness and different accessories that are brought together to create a tasteful and pleasant atmosphere.

Housekeepers not only need to pay attention to the basic cleanliness and hygiene, but also help in the efficient functioning of the various sections such as linen section, pest control, waste management, garden maintenance, electricity, water supply, carpentry and food distribution.

It is a difficult but important task to set up a House Keeping Department in a hospital. The staff in other departments can help to make the House Keeping Department’s work lighter, by maintaining cleanliness in their respective areas and co-operating with them in their day to day work..

Dress code for house keeping staff

  • Hair should be neatly combed and worn in a bun, or neatly tied back or cut short
  • No make-up
  • Uniform should be neat and clean
  • No jewellery, except watch and wedding ring / ’thali’
  • Clean footwear.
  • The hair should be worn short and neatly combed
  • Should be clean shaven
  • Uniform should be neat and clean
  • Clean footwear.
Objectives of the House Keeping Department
  • To ensure a comfortable and infection-free environment for the patients
  • To create a pleasant and friendly atmosphere
  • To ensure that everything under their supervision is kept neat and clean
  • To train and supervise effectively those who are working with them
  • Establish a good working relationship with all other departments.
  • Ensure that safety and security regulations are made known to all staff of the hospital.
Skills required for effective Housekeeping:

In order to work effectively, one must know how to work efficiently.
  • Management:
    • Delegation: Work should be delegated to the staff as per their capabilities. The staff should be supervised regularly, and their work evaluated periodically.
    • Work Management: If several tasks need to be completed on a particular day, the tasks need to be prioritized, so as to complete the tasks in order of their importance.
    • Time Management: In order to complete a given work in the stipulated time, the materials required for the task should be kept ready and at hand.
    • People Management: It is an art to work with others. A good and efficient housekeeper must develop good communication skills, and a pleasant attitude.
  • Budgeting: A well-run Housekeeping Department runs at minimum cost to the Institution. Hence the good housekeeper has to be good at planning and selecting equipment and supplies that are good quality and moderate in price.
  • An eye for beauty: Creating a beautiful and pleasant ambience is one of the objectives of housekeeping. A housekeeper should therefore have good artistic sense to be able to decorate the area appropriately.