The importance of kitchen extract cleaning in care homes

Hygiene is important in any kitchen. This is where we will prepare the food that we (and possibly our family) will eat. The possibility for the proliferation of germs and bacteria are among their greatest here. This becomes even more important on any sort of commercial or public premises, when the health of many people becomes your responsibility.

But then, once we start to talk about somewhere like a hospital or a care home, the game changes again. Somewhere like this, illness may be more prevalent, certainly there is more potential for contamination, but most importantly we are very likely to be dealing with much more vulnerable people, for whom illness brought about by contaminated food, or by contaminants being realised into the atmosphere, can be more serious than it would be for most people, potentially even fatal. 

Kitchen hygiene – Somewhat of an all-encompassing art form

There are many areas to kitchen hygiene, from the cleanliness of the people working in the kitchen – hand washing, hair, dress – to the cleaning of surfaces, equipment, floors, waste disposal and so on. One potentially overlooked but extremely important part of kitchen hygiene, particularly in somewhere like a care home where the atmosphere and the air quality can be so crucial, is the kitchen extract.

Kitchen extracts are usually inaccessible for day to day cleaning and so, left out of any rota or daily chores list, serious problems can develop. It is estimated that (generally speaking, not just in care homes) 80% of kitchen extracts are never cleaned. This can lead to a huge build-up of grease, which not only restricts its ability to filter out the grease and other undesirable elements from the kitchen environment but, potentially even more dangerously, creates a fire risk.

The importance of a super shiny extract

Just imagine all that grease sat above naked gas flames. The worse the build-up, the higher the fire risk becomes. This could be terrible anywhere – in a home or, more likely, a restaurant. But fire prevention in a care home becomes something else altogether. With so many often immobile people in one place, a fire causes an exceptional risk to life. Yes, accordingly care homes will have systems and measures in place to make fire evacuation as efficient as possible, but kitchen fires, especially the sort of intense fires caused by burning oil and grease, have the potential to spread at a terrifying rate, and are difficult for inbuilt sprinkler systems to deal with. Unless it is possible for a trained member of staff to deal with the problem quickly, the fire is likely to spread fast.

Even with a good staff to resident ratio, a home may have a large number of immobile or barely mobile patients, some potentially attached to important medical apparatus, so evacuation can take time. Similarly, the residents in care homes are often in frail states of health, meaning that things like smoke inhalation are likely to take effect more rapidly, and cause more serious complications afterwards.

If a kitchen extract is clogged with grease, it’s a fair likelihood that the ducts serving it will also contain a high build up. In the case of the grease in an extract catching fire, there is a significant chance this will spread into the duct, causing the fire to spread more rapidly and, of course, making it harder to tackle at the source. Kitchen fires cannot completely be prevented, but regularly cleaned kitchen extracts could prove the difference with how serious a kitchen fire is in a place like a care home, and how quickly it spreads.

Taking about Legislative obligations

There is legislation in place for to ensure that in all public kitchens, particularly in places like hospitals and care homes, regular cleaning procedures are followed to prevent tragic events and a general risk to public health. But it is also worth noting that, in the event of an insurance claim, adherence to this legislation is likely to be taken into account.


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