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Little helpers put to the test

Many care home residents have had few – if any – visitors recently, but some are welcoming unusual guests travelling around their facilities. The Perfect Little Company (TPLC) secured funding from Innovate UK to improve social distancing measures in the cleaning process, and to test the effectiveness of robotic cleaning in reducing pathogens in care homes.

The Oxfordshire based business is the UK’s leading provider of commercial cleaning robots with more than 2,000 deployed across various industries. Traditionally the robots (called Abbee) vacuum large offices or schools, but the trial will evaluate if pathogens are reduced by using robots for sanitisation purposes. Funding was approved because of the vulnerability of many care home residents and higher rates of infection. Assisting with sanitisation and robotic vacuuming will minimise human contact in communal areas as well as relieving some pressure off stretched cleaning teams. The trial was approved for 20 care homes and two GP surgeries.

Polite reminder that the Abbee cleaners are about to start a shift

Michael Richardson, CEO of TPLC, says: “Clearly, the virus outbreak has put a renewed urgency behind the trend towards increased automation and use of robots within the commercial cleaning sector. We’ve seen an upturn in requests, but we also felt it was important to offer our services complimentary to those in most need. Thanks to Innovate UK, this has been made possible.” TPLC also teamed up with Residual Barrier Technology (RBT) and will deliver their residual barrier solution. Not only is it less harmful to humans, but provides 99.999 per cent effectiveness, and up to 24 hours of residual protection.

Cleaning robots reduce the spread of coronavirus in two ways: enabling social distancing and allowing less human involvement in the vacuuming process, and sanitising the floors using the RBT disinfectant solution. Robotic commercial vacuums can cover cleaning teams who are sick, isolating or to simply keep them safe. No social distancing measures are needed when vacuuming and the robots do not mind a night shift.

Don’t mind us: we’re just passing through, keeping everything as safe as possible for staff and residents

During these uncertain times care homes have no choice but to remain operational. Cleaners often circulate more than most people within a building, so are naturally more at risk themselves, and of spreading the virus to residents. TPLC will provide pathogen test machines and homes will test specific areas before, during and after using the robots. A virtual training programme for the trial care homes comes on a tablet loaded with easy to watch videos, meaning TPLC staff will not need access to the premises.

TPLC’s Abbee robots already operate in several care homes, including St Monica Trust retirement village in Bristol. Karen Hedderwick, catering and housekeeping team leader there, says: “Our residents’ safety is incredibly important to us. The Abbees help us to vacuum a large area to a high standard during the quietest times within the home.”

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