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Washroom consumables at Redwood Care Homes maintaining quality care
Redwood Care Homes is a care home group of 13 homes in and around the Midlands, with its head office in Stourbridge. As with all organisations, as the recession started to bite, the company was looking to better control costs in all areas, without impacting on the level of care provided.
The following case study describes how the group worked closely with janitorial supplier John Astley & Sons to change some of its consumables - and, more importantly, the way it purchased them, to cut costs while improving staff training and the quality of care.
Miles Fidlin, Finance Director at Redwood Care Homes explains:
"The care business is complex and demanding, and requirements vary according to very specific needs of each resident and the services offered by our 14 care homes. Redwood covers the entire spectrum of care, whether it is day care, residential care, learning disabilities, old age, dementia, physical disabilities, nursing care or sensory impairment.
"In addition, the nature of the facilities add a further complexity, for example, whether there is an on premise laundry or not, whether pets are accepted etc. Because each home has unique needs, the spend varies dramatically across the Estate so it is hard to dictate a single head office specified limit."
Redwood was approached by John Astley & Sons, a family owned and managed business, now enjoying its 284th year in business. Steve Wootton, UK Sales Manager at Astley's explains: "Our business was geographically well placed to deliver and provide excellent service for the type of hygiene consumables that Redwood needed.
"More than this, our experience in the care home sector meant that we had a very good insight into the needs of the organisation and were able to devise an innovative solution to its cost control requirement."
Astley's solution was based on an Internet based procurement system where each home would have its own purchasing control, whilst adhering to a specified spend limit. Steve says: "Historically, the staff responsible for purchasing often had no view of how much they had already spent. Each time they needed consumables, the purchase was treated as essential and ordered anyway.
"Our new system had a budget counter, which meant that they could see how they were progressing against their spend budget, and plan accordingly. We also helped with budget setting, by determining, based on our experience in the sector, an acceptable 'cost per head per patient type'. In this way, we helped them set realistic targets that could be functionally achieved."
Driving costs down
Having provided them with a mechanism to control spend, Astley's also implemented a number of recommendations to help reduce the overall spend. It recommended a series of product rationalisations, to cut down on the variety of products being used. It also eliminated c-fold hand towels from the hand towel range.
Steve explains: "With a c-fold towel, there is always a 50% chance of staff loading towels into the dispenser incorrectly. When this happens, it means that there is nothing to grab hold off to pull the towel from the dispenser, which in turn, means users are required to push their hand up inside the dispenser to 'grab a handful.' This results in a very high risk of germ cross-contamination - just what you don't need in a care home.
"In addition, the towels taken from the dispenser present a very small surface area - so users tend to take five or six, not to mention the ones they drop at the same time, so cost-in-use is very high."
Astley's replaced Redwoods c-fold towels with a green Katrin Interleaved (Zig Zag) hand towel from Metsa Tissue. Steve explains: "The self presenting functionality of these Katrin towels eliminates the cross contamination risk, and greatly reduces the overall cost-in-use of the towel.
"In addition, Metsa Tissue's green credentials are exceptional, so in recommending its products to our clients, we know we will assist with its Corporate and Social Responsibility Goals."
Astley's delivers a range of other consumables for Redwood, besides the hand towels, including:
- Non-woven patient wipes
- Vinyl & latex gloves
- Broad spectrum disinfectants
- General cleaning, janitorial and wiping products
- Full range of paper consumables
- Red soluble laundry bags
- Aroma controlling products
"Aroma control is another speciality of ours," says Steve. "We favour eliminating the bacteria that causes the aroma, by using deodorisers or ozone generators, rather than trying to mask the smell with another strong aroma - where the combination of smells can become just as unpleasant as the original problem. And to maintain good hygiene for bedroom bound patients, Redwood needed in-room soap dispensers so we installed 500ml Katrin soap dispensers in approximately 80 bedrooms across the Estate."
Safe in the knowledge
Once the product portfolio was agreed and in place, Astley's focussed on training and proper use. Redwood's Miles Fidlin explains: "It is essential for staff to know how to use all chemicals correctly. Astley's has helped us with this in two ways. Firstly, the COSHH sheets and Safety Data Sheets are available via the online system, and can be downloaded for staff to refer to. Secondly, Astley's offers free, on site COSHH and safe use training for all of our homes. The downloadable tools are useful, but across multi languages and busy working periods, practical, face to face explanations are always valuable.
"Our relationship with Astley's is excellent and has been since the company first approached us six years ago. The advice and experience the team there has given, helped us drive down consumable costs. In parallel, the spend controlling tools that they implemented enabled us to maintain excellent care levels for our clients, through what we all know to have been turbulent economic times."
All this and free next day delivery... Steve says: "We pride ourselves on delivering both innovation and good service, and our relationship with Redwood demonstrates this.
"We rose to the challenge set by Redwood, and provided excellent support through good account management, field training resource and great products from quality manufacturers like Metsa Tissue."
27th March 2014