Wheelchair washer a boon for Rainycrest
The Rainycrest Auxiliary made Darryl Galusha’s Christmas wish came true—buying a wheelchair washer for the long-term care facility that will benefit residents and staff alike.
It was perfect timing from an infection control standpoint, noted Rainycrest’s director of seniors services and administration, who showed off the new equipment to auxiliary members last week.
“It kills everything.”
Galusha said he used one for four years in Kenora and their infection rates were quite low.
“It’s something I wanted to continue here to keep the residents safe,” he remarked.
“It’s used by all the different departments,” he added. “That’s why we put in centrally.
“It’s not just a nursing tool—it’s for maintenance, housekeeping, the kitchen,” Galusha stressed.
“It pays off on everything.”
Although called a wheelchair washer, the device is used to clean much more than those.
“We put all the kitchen carts through it, all of the garbage cans—anything we can put through here will be washed and disinfected,” Galusha said.
“I’m going to wash lawn furniture in there this spring.”
Similar to a large dishwasher, the device washes and dries wheelchairs in a fraction of the time it used to.
“It used to take a nurse 20 minutes to do one wheelchair . . . we can do one in five minutes here,” noted Galusha.
Kayla Caul-Chartier, director of resident care at Rainycrest, has worked with staff to create a schedule so that one staff member can wash 15 wheelchairs in an hour.
“That’s more time for staff to spend with the residents,” reasoned Galusha.
“This will pay for itself in man hours in less than a year.
“From a manpower standpoint, long-term care is historically short-staffed because we just don’t have the funding,” Galusha noted later.
“This is a way to get people back on the floor in short order without being away from direct resident care.”
Prior to acquiring the wheelchair washer, staff had to clean everything by hand.
“I’ve been a nurse for 22 years and I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve spent scrubbing,” Galusha recalled.
“You’re in the tub, you’re in the shower, you have to put rubber boots on and you’re scrubbing to get everything off.
“I don’t think there should ever be a long-term care home without one,” he stressed.
Auxiliary president June Caul said there’s no doubt the new wheelchair washer will help staff, adding she learned from nutrition manager Dwayne Hunking that prior to now, staff had to scrub food service carts with toothbrushes.
“Imagine the time taken to do all of that,” she remarked.
Caul-Chartier, meanwhile, noted the other challenge with washing everything by hand is some items rust if they’re not dried properly, adding this was a concern with some wheelchairs.
Rainycrest’s maintenance staff built a small loading ramp to make it easy to wheel anything into the washer, said Galusha.
He also said it’s easy to use: just open the door, make sure there’s cleaning solution, close the door, and hit a button. The machine then washes, rinses, and dries whatever it’s cleaned, using 4.5 gallons per cycle.
The wheelchair washer cost about $12,000, which equalled the auxiliary’s total fundraising for 2013.
“This was a huge investment by the auxiliary into the quality of life of all of the residents,” stressed Galusha.
“Not just the residents but all of the staff,” he added. “Can you imagine spending 20 minutes on your hands and knees cleaning these?
“This just goes to show you the dedication the auxiliary has, all the things that they do, all the hard work that they’ve done,” Galusha reiterated.
“They stepped up to the plate and got something like this.
“I gave them a piece of paper and a little talk, and they had the foresight and dedication, and had the belief in me when I rambled on about it,” he remarked, noting it took the auxiliary a whole year of fundraising, and hundreds and hundreds of hours of volunteer work, to buy the machine.
Caul said the need for the wheelchair washer was clear and so the auxiliary decided to make Galusha’s Christmas wish come true.
“That was my e-mail to Darryl—that we were getting him a Christmas present,” she recalled.
“I told him we were spending money to buy it, and lo and behold, it was here just before Christmas,” Caul added.
“That made it even better.”
Galusha said the wheelchair washer arrived Dec. 23, and was set up and operating by the next day.