26 March 2020 | Herpreet Kaur Grewal
Facilities management service providers are adapting their provision to support the NHS in fighting the coronavirus.
Vinci Facilities is diverting volunteers from its mobile repairs teams (MRTs) to support existing FM services across several hospitals in the North West, Midlands and South East.
The firm already provides FM to the NHS and is now "working hard behind the scenes to support the NH, its clinical teams and other key workers".
As well as supporting the continuing repair and maintenance of hospital wards and essential services to keep wards going and back up clinical staff, Vinci Facilities engineers and teams will be helping to reconfigure other wards in the hospitals to re-purpose them to support the effort against Covid-19.
Its teams will be bolstered by engineers that usually work in the retail sector supporting charity and large chain store contracts, bringing with them much-needed extra help in maintaining electrical services and systems, air conditioning, heating and ventilation as well as building repairs and joinery work.
The MRTs will provide cover for staff who are unable to attend work through illness or self-isolation and will add to the existing numbers of engineering staff giving their support.
And construction and services firm Interserve is also stepping up to support the NHS. Interserve domestic manager Vanessa Morrison runs a team of 219 people delivering catering and domestic services to an NHS Trust hospital that is treating patients who have contracted Covid-19.
Morrison said: "Part of our job has always been dealing with incredibly infectious diseases such as MRSA and Clostridium difficile, so we are trained, we know what to do, and we have the right equipment.
"The team is absolutely fantastic, I'm so proud of my colleagues and the incredible job they are doing. Yes, there are fears about catching coronavirus, but I explain with the safety measures and personnel protective equipment we have that all the right policies and procedures are in place."
Interserve has issued guidance and a range of measures to protect colleagues and to make sure the hospital environment is kept safe. These include hand washing 'tool box' talks and stay-safe training delivered by experts, and using equipment such as Clorox 360 machines so the company can increase its infection control deep-cleaning capacity.
Sharon Clift, Interserve internal auditor, ordinarily ensures that standards are maintained and the audits are completed, but owing to the increased workload, she is now working as a frontline cleaner to increase the team's capacity.
She said: "It is incredibly busy, but we are working together as a team. I've been in this sector for 21 years and have never seen anything like this, but I am doing what I am trained to do and I am proud that we are doing a good job."