Environmental Service Workers
What is the Role of an Environmental Service Healthcare Provider?
Healthcare environmental services workers are qualified healthcare providers who focus on infection prevention and control measures, environmental hazards, and the healthcare facility safety and operations. There are various roles within healthcare environmental services. Some roles include housekeepers, laundry aides, porters, maintenance workers, and the healthcare environmental services managers.
Due to the continuously changing healthcare environment, environmental service healthcare providers need to maintain competency in infection prevention and control best practices, environmental cleaning best practices in all healthcare settings, and occupational health and safety legislative standards (e.g., Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System [WHMIS]).
The Canadian Healthcare Housekeepers Association (2021) “represent healthcare housekeepers and environmental services professionals across Canada.” (https://healthcarehousekeeper.org/)
Canadian Association of Environmental Management (CAEM) focuses on “promot[ing] the professional growth and development of its members and support best practice cleaning and disinfection practices with the objective of reducing hospital acquired infection caused by environmental surface contamination” (Canadian Association of Environmental Management, 2018).
To learn more about the role of a Healthcare Environmental Services Manager go to https://youtu.be/V-lP1_lK0lM
Infection Prevention and Environmental Service Healthcare Providers
Environmental Service Healthcare Providers are responsible for knowing infection prevention and control practices according to Public Health Ontario, (or their province or territory), and their specific workplace policies. Essential practices in these roles include cleaning and disinfecting healthcare environment and medical equipment, adhering to routine practices, and following additional precaution measures such as safe handling of soiled linen to prevent the spread of microorganisms (Provincial Infectious Diseases Advisory Committee [PIDAC], 2018). Infection prevention and control education is essential in the role for active participation in prevention and control the spread of microorganisms.
The role of the Environmental Service Healthcare Providers complies with the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, Health Canada, Occupational Health and Safety, Public Health Ontario PIDAC and other regulatory organizations.
Interprofessional Collaboration and Environmental Service Healthcare Providers
The importance of applying successful written, oral, and non-verbal communication techniques in relationships with co-workers, supervisors and clients will be emphasized. Interprofessional and collaborative care models in healthcare will be examined using practical examples.
Interprofessional collaboration (IPC) focuses on collaborating with other healthcare providers to advocate for the client’s safety and a healthy workplace environment.
Some roles related to infection prevention and control practices that environmental service healthcare providers are responsible for include:
- Collaborating with the interprofessional team to maintain infection prevention and control practices and ensure compliance with current legislation standards and regulations.
- Communicating with other healthcare providers about environmental hazards.
- Demonstrating respectful interprofessional communication and interaction with all healthcare providers.
- Collaborating with the interprofessional team to develop, implement and monitor operating systems. For example, creating a healthier eco-friendly environment and reducing the carbon footprint.
- Advocating for preventative measures and quality improvement in sanitation, maintenance and operating systems.
- Maintaining competency in new technologies and practices to prevent and control the transmission of microorganisms.
- Documenting services and maintain required records in compliance with healthcare facility and regulation standards.
- Managing and communicating with healthcare environmental services team to ensure successful functioning of the healthcare setting.
Canadian Association of Environmental Management. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.caenvironmentalmanagement.com/about
Canadian Healthcare Housekeepers Association (2021). Retrieved from https://healthcarehousekeeper.org/
Provincial Infectious Diseases Advisory Committee (PIDAC), Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion. (2018). Best Practices for Environmental Cleaning for Prevention and Control of Infection in All Health Care Settings. (3rd ed.). Public Health Ontario. https://www.publichealthontario.ca/-/media/documents/B/2018/bp-environmental-cleaning.pdf