Infection prevention and control is of utmost importance in hospitals and other healthcare facilities. Building owners, facilities managers, healthcare architects and all others involved in healthcare design decisions need to consider how the materials used within a building contribute to this issue.
Healthcare Facilities Should Ensure Clean and Safe Environment
In the UK, for example, the National Health Service (NHS) Constitution mandates that all healthcare organizations should, “ensure that services are provided in a clean and safe environment that is fit for purpose, based on national best practice.” First published by the Department of Health in 2011, Health Building Note (HBN) 00-10 provides best practice guidance in the UK, outlining the policy and performance requirements that must be considered when constructing or refurbishing a healthcare facility.
HBN: 00-10 states,“Healthcare facilities should provide a therapeutic environment in which the overall design of the building contributes to the process of healing and reduces the risk of healthcare-associated infections rather than simply being a place where treatment takes place.” These facilities must be safe, accessible and inviting for all, including patients, doctors, staff and visitors.
The key requirements for every floor, wall and coating system used in a healthcare environment can be divided into two main performance themes – cleanability and life-cycle maintenance. Both are intrinsically linked to infection prevention and control.
Infection Prevention Thanks to Hygienic Floors, Walls and Ceilings with no Cracks and Joints
The majority of people being treated in healthcare facilities are immunocompromised, making infection prevention and control vital. Because weakened immune systems and other afflictions make patients more susceptible to infections, healthcare providers have a responsibility to minimize the potential risk of these patients acquiring a HealthCare-Associated Infection (HCAI).
HCAIs affect an estimated 6.4 percent of hospital patients each year. Therefore, floors, walls and ceilings must be carefully designed to enable effective cleaning, and all coatings and finishes should be chosen with this in mind. If a floor or wall finish is incompatible with cleaning agents, this may cause changes to the physical properties or quality of the finish, leading to softening or hardening, reduced flexibility, cracking, flaking or discoloring. This looks unsightly and can affect the efficacy of the cleaning regime.
When specifying wall, ceiling and floor finishes in healthcare facilities, it is imperative to consider the expected level of traffic for each area of use. If a finish can’t stand up to the use intensity in situ, cracks, tears and other defects can occur. Left uncorrected or repaired inadequately, these imperfections can negatively impact the cleaning regime, creating protected niches for microbial growth and biofilm formation and resulting in potential sources of infection.
Because healthcare facilities are subject to a range of hazardous substances, including bodily fluids, all floors, walls and ceilings should be smooth, nonporous, hard and seamless. Surfaces that are free of fissures, open joints and crevices are unable to retain or permit dirt and moisture passage, and they will not become breeding grounds for disease inducing microorganisms.
Places Which Are Critical Can Be Easily Solved by Sika Solutions:
Seamless, High Performance Floor and Wall Coats
Sika offers a range of high-performance resin floor systems and hygienic wall coatings suitable for the most demanding healthcare environments.
- Sikafloor® solutions and Sikagard® hygienic coatings have been designed with cleaning in mind. Their smooth and seamless qualities make cleaning easier. They are formulated to resist regular scrubbing and a variety of common cleaning detergents, further supporting healthcare facilities’ infection prevention and control measures.
- Sikafloor® and Sikagard® solutions are offered in a variety of systems and thicknesses to mirror different life-cycle requirements. A wide range of detailing options for construction joints, floor-to-wall connections and surfaces are also available, providing a total solution that meets and exceeds guidelines.
- Sikagard® hygienic coatings are single component, water-based products that are easy to apply by brush, roller or airless spray. With a wet scrub resistance of Class 1, according to EN 13300, the standard for water-borne coating materials and coating systems for interior walls and ceilings, Sikagard® hygienic coatings outperform traditional wall paints. Wall paints that claim to be washable must have a wet scrub resistance of at least Class 3, which falls substantially short of the Class 1 standards set by the Sikagard® product line.
- Additionally, Sikagard® hygienic coatings are elastomeric and highly flexible in nature, enabling them to withstand expansion, contraction and minor impacts without cracking or flaking. Because the systems are liquid-applied, they are also easy to repair, optimizing their life expectancy and minimizing maintenance requirements throughout the building’s life-cycle.
- Sikafloor® and Sikagard® solutions provide a simple, highly effective method for achieving surfaces that are easy to clean, hard-wearing and free from joints, seams and other features that create hiding places for dirt and bacteria. Just as seamless care has become a core value of the UK National Health Service, seamless flooring materials and wall finishes such as Sikafloor® and Sikagard® solutions have become an increasingly popular strategy for achieving infection prevention and control standards and requirements in hospitals and other healthcare facilities in different parts of the world.
Ph.D. in Microbiology
Sika United Kingdom