The Best System for Lost Personals in Aged Care
When people move into an aged care home, they expect a clean facility with helpful staff who deliver great quality of care. It’s also a basic expectation that any clothes put out for washing get returned, yet too often personal clothes go missing in the process. It may not surprise you that one of the most common complaints aged care facilities receive relate to lost personal clothes. As such, keeping track of residents’ clothing should be a major consideration when setting up your facility’s laundry operations.
Why Clothing Gets Lost – The Problem and Solution
Have you ever lost a sock while doing your personal laundry? It’s a common inconvenience. When you are working with a general ‘bundle’ of clothes, nothing feels lost so long as you still have your bundle. That feeling lasts until you itemise your clothes again when putting them away.
In aged care facilities, that ‘bundle’ includes clothing from dozens or hundreds of residents that must all be cleaned, dried, sorted and then returned to their rightful owner. Some losses are inevitable; however, what shouldn’t be inevitable is clothing being lost for good.
Having documented processes in place to minimise the likelihood and quarantine lost items is essential to making sure occurrences are rare.
The first step to avoiding loss is to label all residents’ clothing clearly. When new residents arrive, their clothing should be given heat-sealed labels with their name and their area in the facility, if applicable. The clothing they are wearing when they arrive will have to be labelled properly at a later point, but families or carers should be instructed to label these tags with a marker in the meantime.
Maintain the Labels
A label that has fallen off or is unreadable may as well not exist. Ensure that your laundry staff are trained to check every label as clothing is being folded. That way labels that are damaged or peeling off can be identified and replaced straight away.
Divide the Bundle
In larger facilities, laundry should be done in batches according to different areas. If items do become lost and are unlabelled, it will be much easier to locate the owner from a smaller pool of residents than the entire facility.
How to Handle Lost Items
Even with the best laundry processes in the world, items will still get lost occasionally. It’s important to have clear, fair and secure lost and found policies and procedures in place. These will differ from facility to facility but here are some general guidelines:
Avoid ‘Public’ Lost and Found Racks
Some aged care homes have been known to simply put lost clothing on a rack in a communal area and let fate decide. This is a very bad idea as it becomes far too easy for residents or their families to take the wrong clothes – whether accidentally or “accidentally”.
Different Policies for Different Facilities
The size of your aged care home will help you decide on the best lost and found policy. If the resident population is quite small, staff may be able to simply return Mr Peterson’s shirt because everyone knows everyone else.
However, this ideal is quite rare and you will generally need some kind of system in place. At the very least, items should be put in a specific, secure place and labelled with the date they were found. In larger facilities, there should be a separate lost and found for each area or wing of the home.
Set a Time Limit
Ensure you have a time limit on items in the lost and found that is clearly communicated to staff and residents. It should be a generous period (a month or more), but at some point, you need to dispose of unclaimed items to make room for more.
Re-Label Claimed Clothing
Once clothing is claimed, don’t just hand it straight over. Make a note of who it belongs to and have the item re-labelled and returned – otherwise it will simply end up in lost and found again.
Contact Us for All Your Laundry Needs
Talk to the team at Aqualogic for more helpful hints and tips when it comes to laundry best practice. Get in touch or Call us on 1300 222 119 today.