Feature: Breaking the chain of infection

How correct specification of modern interior glazing solutions can provide a robust solution to help prevent bacteria from spreading through hospitals

Modern glazing solutions offer bug-busting properties as well as the opportunity to print designs onto the glass in order to enhance the interior environment

One of the greatest priorities of any healthcare establishment is breaking the chain of infection.

So every surface and piece of equipment needs to be designed to be easy to clean and, where possible, antibacterial.

You may not immediately consider windows as being a high-risk product, but modern interior glass can provide a robust solution to help prevent bacteria from spreading.

In order to fully appreciate the unique benefits, the correct specifications must be made to ensure that a product is truly fit for purpose and that its lifecycle is not affected

But the impact of this depends on the correct specification.

Healthcare environments implement stringent infection prevention policies to limit the spread of bacteria, in accordance with the Health and Social Care Act 2008: Code of Practice for health and adult social care.

The Department of Health provides guidance for compliance within criterion two, which states that you must ‘provide and maintain a clean and appropriate environment in managed premises that facilitates the prevention and control of infections’.

However, even with these practices in place, approximately 9% of all patients develop an infection while in hospital. This is more than 300,000 patients a year alone in England, according to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

Cost effective

Speaking to BBH on the issue, Joanna Lush, business development manager at Gx Glass, said: “Preventing the spread of infection is crucial for patients, staff and visitors.

“The good news is that glass offers a durable and cost-effective solution to healthcare facilities.”

Incorporating interior glass in various areas can have a significant impact when it comes to breaking the chain of infection.

“Glass surfaces are easy to maintain and only require water and a mild detergent to be kept pristine,” said Lush.

“As they are non-porous; bacteria and other substances are unable to seep into the board and be harboured.

“There are also specialist antibacterial glass products, which eliminate bacteria that can accumulate on the surface, helping to prevent the spread of infection and reducing cleaning and maintenance requirements.”

Glass is durable, scratch resistant and provides a waterproof surface, and interior glass can be specified for every budget.

By investing in interior glass surfaces and specifying them correctly, healthcare facilities can benefit from a durable, non-porous and cost-effective solution that will hinder the spread of infection

And, due to its strength and inherent stability; it provides long-term value.

“Typically, glass will outlast the lifecycle of an interior design scheme,” said Lush.

“Only accidental impact damage to the surface, or a failure in the surface the glass is affixed to, will cause it to break.

“This makes a glass surface, whether standard or antibacterial, ideal for several applications and budgets - from magnetic whiteboards to reception areas and teapoints.”

Also increasing the specification of glass products is the fact the material can be decorated to suit any interior design scheme using a number of surface coating techniques.

“Children’s wards can benefit from digitally-printed and painted glass - providing bold, colourful graphics to brighten up the surrounding environment,” said Lush.

“We use water-based paints in our products that are low in volatile organic compounds, making them ideal for hitting green targets.”

Correct specification

But she warns: “In order to fully appreciate these unique benefits, the correct specifications must be made to ensure that a product is truly fit for purpose and that its lifecycle is not affected.

“Safety is paramount, and depending on the product interior glass should be toughened, laminated or safety backed, which will significantly lower the risk of injury from breakages.

“Particular consideration must also be given to the product’s end use as this can affect how it is manufactured and installed.”

For example, some products are only suitable for a wet area if the substrate and adhesive used are also suitable for wet areas, otherwise moisture can seep behind the glass and damage the coating. Therefore, it is important to work with the manufacturer and supplier during the design phase of a project, she advises.

In a healthcare environment, breaking the chain of infection is crucial to the welfare of patients, visitors and staff

“Access for installation of glass is an area that can often be overlooked during the design phase – panel size and how it gets to its end location should be identified during the early phases of a project,” she said.

“In a healthcare environment, breaking the chain of infection is crucial to the welfare of patients, visitors and staff.

“By investing in interior glass surfaces and specifying them correctly, healthcare facilities can benefit from a durable, non-porous and cost-effective solution that will hinder the spread of infection.”

The latest glazing systems are non-porous so bacteria and other substances are unable to seep into the board and be harboured

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