Monday, April 14, 2008

Quality Control Inspections

Do you do regular quality control inspections? Many facilities do. What method do you use? Manual, on paper? Do you use some sort of system? A computer system? Do you use a handheld computer? There are many options to choose from.

Even if you do not have a formal system, any good Manager or Supervisor is always doing inspections. A good Manager is constantly seeing the areas they walk through and mentally documenting areas that need attention.

But why should we take the time to document inspection results?

For one thing, employees want to know how they are doing. I believe that most employees want to do a good job. At least the good employees do. And they want to know if they are doing a “good job”. If they are falling short, they want to know so they can improve.

If you use a “Pay for Performance” compensation system a formal, documented inspection system will help you justify pay increases. A computerized system makes it easy to generate a report for any employee being evaluated.

What type of rating system do you use for your inspections? My experience tells me that most Managers prefer a pass/fail system, where an item is either clean or dirty. This method is much less subjective than a method that uses a rating scale of 1 to 4 or 1 to 10. A pass/fail system also makes reporting scores much easier to interpret. A passing score of “95%” is easier for Administration to understand than a score of “3.4”.

The availability of handheld computers streamlines the inspection process. Printing a form, writing on paper, and then entering results back into a system take up valuable Supervisor time. Digital Housekeeper® Mobile™, for example, simplifies and speeds this process to downloading the inspection, clicking the results into the handheld and then uploading again.

So if you are doing inspections, good for you. Keep doing them. If you do not have anything in place, start a system. There are many ways to document results. Visit our website, email or call us for information on Digital Housekeeper.

Monday, March 10, 2008

What About Square Footage?

I frequently hear from managers and directors how their EVS department is benchmarked on their cleanable square footage and cost. Certainly, square footage and cost are important considerations in determining staffing levels and benchmarking of facilities. But square footage and cost cannot be the only consideration.

As anyone who has worked in the housekeeping industry can tell you, cleaning 10,000 square feet of office area is very different than cleaning 10,000 square feet of patient rooms. Or, for that matter, 10,000 square feet of public waiting areas.

It should be obvious, but to some administrators and some consulting companies, square footage is square footage. It’s not that simple. (Here’s a few related articles on benchmarking: Health Facilities Magazine, Cleaning and Maintenance Management Online)

We must factor in a number of other items if we intend to compare facilities on equal terms. Level of cleaning (patient area vs. non patient area, etc.), frequency of cleaning tasks, frequency of project tasks, number of beds…... And we haven’t even begun to define all the other responsibilities that are sometimes given to Environmental Service departments….waste removal, outside grounds care, linen distribution, and the list can go on and on.

If you’ve ever had to face budget cuts, staffing reductions, downsizing, (or maybe your organization uses the more positive “staffing adjustment” or “right-sizing”), I’m sure you can appreciate the value of this information. If you don’t have the information now, get it. Do you homework.

Benchmarking can be a good thing, but only if you are comparing the same things.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

How do you justify your existence?

I managed Laundry and EVS departments back in the day when computers were not considered necessary to run the department. As long as we had our mops and buckets, Administration figured we had what we needed.

We’ve come a long way since that time. Most (if not all) EVS departments that I go to these days have a computer….and maybe a computer on each Supervisor’s desk.

According to the AHA, there are 5747 registered hospitals in the US. In the business I am in, I often wonder how many of those hospitals utilize some type of housekeeping management software to help manage the department. We all know how much pressure there is to “do more with less”. As managers, we must be as efficient as we can. How many EVS managers can justify the number of FTEs they actually need to do the work? How many can document this for Administration? How many of you managing EVS departments know what the square footage is in your facility?

Software can help answer these questions and give validity to staffing needs. The software can be something as simple as a spreadsheet. But who has the time (with all the other responsibilities) to re-invent the wheel and develop rates, formulas and everything else that goes with it.

There are many choices out there. Technology has made tools available to us to be efficient and utilize our resources wisely.