In the ongoing fight against the spread of germs and infections in healthcare facilities great emphasis has been placed on increasing awareness and uptake of people-led preventative measures such as regular handwashing. However, there is now increasing understanding of the role products can play in limiting outbreaks of infections, writes Jon Morris, North West Area Manager – Flooring and Refurbishment at global building products manufacturer, Sika.

Jon Morris, North West Area Manager - Flooring

It is estimated that at any one time nine per cent of all inpatients acquire an infection whilst in hospital. The good news is that this percentage looks likely to fall in the coming years. 

 

According to figures published by MRSA Action UK, the number of Clostridium difficile (C-diff) cases recorded in UK hospitals between 2015 and 2016 totalled 5,164, which represents a 48% decrease from 2011/12. C-diff infections have also fallen. In 2011/12, there were 18,022 cases recorded, compared to 14,140 in 2015/16.

 

More can be done to ensure the number of outbreaks continues to fall and also to increase the rate in which they do. This is where the specification and installation of smart products can play a pivotal role.  

In an enclosed medical environment, a seamless coating which is durable enough to withstand rigorous cleaning regimes is imperative to maintain high standards of hygiene and prevent the spread of viruses and disease. Sika offers a range of high-performance, ultra-low emission floor, wall and ceiling coatings that delivers the simplest and most effective method of achieving a seamless floor to wall connection when exceptional hygiene is paramount.

 

Sika Comfortfloor and Sikagard® are suitable for the most demanding medical environments such as hospitals, pharmaceutical laboratories and operating theatres. They enable a smooth yet tough surface which not only simplify the cleaning process to maximum, hygienic effect, but also provide superb resistance to cracking, splitting and flaking – an essential property for a medical environment as open joints and crevices are a breeding ground for bacteria.

 

As well as meeting the needs of patients and staff, healthcare facilities must attain Building Regulations and Health and Safety legislation. Sika Comfortfloor and Sikagard hygienic coatings fully encompass the requirements of HBN 00-10 – the Department of Health’s policy and performance standards for floor, wall and coating systems used in healthcare facilities where infection prevention and control is essential.  

The Rise of Resin

Resin flooring has a host of desirable properties – durable, non-slip, easy-to-clean, smooth and easily repaired – making it the ideal surface for areas of heavy-industry and high footfall which require regular, chemically-aggressive cleaning.

 

The increased slip resistance of resin-based floor coverings, such as Sika Comfortfloor, over traditional vinyl coverings, is another benefit of its use in the healthcare sector. According to Health and Safety Executive figures, more than 50% of reported major injuries in this area are related to slips, trips and falls to staff and patients. These accidents will not only cause serious injury, in extreme cases, could lead to fatalities as a result of the heightened vulnerability of the client group.

 

Slip-resistant, resin-based floors can control the slip-risk in some hospital environments, especially areas likely to become wet or subject to other surface contamination. Therefore, the cleanability of the flooring should not be a barrier to the use of slip-resistant flooring in foreseeably wet or contaminated work areas in hospitals.

Initiating the Right Tone

Available in a wide spectrum of colours, the Sikagard® hygienic coatings range offers the aesthetic flexibility and design adaptability to match a project’s needs.

 

It’s also an environmentally-friendly system. Good air quality is a vital consideration in any indoor environment and Sikagard® offers ultra-low emissions. With more than 97% reduction in VOCs, the product has an A+ rating, according to a leading European labelling scheme, which is significantly ahead of any Europe-wide requirements.  

In some hospital areas such as surgical wards, which require even greater attention to sanitary detail, wall applications may require enhanced impact resistance. In such cases, Sikagard® hygiene coatings can be reinforced with Sika® Reemat glass fibre matting which is available in two grades – Sika® Reemat Lite and Sika® Reemat Premium.

 

The material is easily incorporated into the Sikagard® systems, which once cured, provides a high-performance, seamless finish that is both highly-durable and aesthetically-pleasing.

 

The challenge of maintaining the highest standards of cleanliness at UK hospitals will never diminish in terms of size and importance. However, thanks to Sika Comfortfloor and Sikagard® hygiene coatings, health authorities have practical, long-term allies in the fight against infection.