Linen services become more reliable and inventory is reduced in Cypress Health Region

April 7, 2014

Challenges with the flow of clean linen at Palliser Care Centre in Swift Current have been a long term source of stress to staff and have affected the quality of care for patients.  Linen was often piled high in the facility’s basement, but care providers still had shortages of critical items.  In a Rapid Process Improvement Workshop (RPIW) held the week of March 3-7, 2014, a team of care providers and environmental service workers made the linen service more predictable, reliable, and at the same time, removed large amounts of excess linen.

Their improvements included:

  • Earlier delivery time to ensure supply is available for morning care
  • Elimination of storage of piles of excess linen in the basement
  • Better understanding of actual usage on each unit
  • A daily check in between nurses and environmental service workers on linen supply
  • A solid plan for buffer carts of linen that will stay clean and covered until use
  • Improved practices for staff safety and infection prevention and control
Nursing staff at the centre are hopeful that the changes will make a big impact.  “Because of this Lean event, I can once again be proud of the job I do and focus my skills on resident care,” said Paulette Wieler, Special Care Aide at the care centre.

Susan Andreas, an environmental service worker on the team, was also enthusiastic about the outcome.  “Having a standard work form will make things easier and move the process more quickly.  I learned that when you simplify things and order is a part of your daily work, it makes things work better.”

Carol Hildebrand, Regional Manager of Environmental and Laundry Services for the Cypress Health Region, sees huge potential for the RPIW to make significant change.  “We have the opportunity to resolve the linen issues and meet our client’s needs in a consistent and efficient manner. If we can make this happen we will also alleviate many of the frustrations the staff have been dealing with,” she said.  “By implementing the collaborative report time between nursing and Environmental Services we can open up communication and develop a strong team throughout the facility.”

The event was supported by 3sHealth as part of its provincial linen strategy, and learnings will be shared with other health regions.

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