We interviewed Derry Michel, Product Manager at Hygenius, asking him for his advice when specifying the right healthcare shelving systems for hospitals and other healthcare spaces. He caught our attention straight away with his alternative take on the HCAI acronym!

Absolutely. Wherever you see healthcare shelving systems, you see holes – and they are a big problem when it comes to hygiene – or the lack of it.

The holes in the shelving tracks fixed to the wall, or in the rails of that freestanding unit collect bacteria very efficiently. It’s almost as if they were designed to do it!

Yes it does – a regular wipe along the shelf tracks and brackets is a good idea, but cleaning right inside the holes? Where the bacteria are busy multiplying? That doesn’t happen.

That’s the question I asked myself when thinking about this issue. Our R&D team spoke with nurses, doctors and IC specialists and listened to their concerns.

Their first worries were the stored materials themselves, of course – all kinds of items, in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Wrapped, unwrapped, sterile and otherwise. Piled up and, sometimes, left for weeks or months to gather dust and worse – or moved in and out of the store-room frequently, transferring infection at every turn.

Their second big concern was the design of the store itself and the fact that such places are often almost impossible to clean thoroughly. Scores of hard-to-reach holes, of course, plus poorly finished  chipboard shelves and complex brackets – all creating the complex shapes that bacteria love to live in.

That’s right. So it’s vital to do everything we can to make the shelves and the store-room itself much less able to harbour and cultivate infection.

Or, rather, which is where eliminating the holes comes in. After we spoke to the front-line people, I knew there was one big question I had to answer – can we get rid of holes altogether?

No holes equals no homes for billions of bacteria to hide and breed in. Eliminate holes and complex shapes and every shelf in every hospital would be safer.

So I worked with our designers to rewrite the rules on adjustable healthcare shelving. I asked them not to come back until holes were history!

Yes they did. They created an entirely new kind of shelving system that’s adjustable, but doesn’t have adjustment holes.

Shelves sit on smooth, round, cleanable locators which are sealed to the frame, and you change shelf positions by sitting them on different locators – also sealed to the frame.

No holes even then, because you don’t need to attach them to the wall at all – these new units are self-supporting. But if you want to locate or secure them in one position, a few simple brackets do the job.

Yes. They reminded me that the floor under a run of shelves can also be bad news. Even if it’s not full of things that wouldn’t fit on the shelves, it’s still hard for cleaners to reach and often dirty as a result.

So our new healthcare shelving system can also come with plinth that seals the shelf unit to the floor – no need to try and clean underneath. No entry for dirt and dust.

They also worried about the area above the shelving unit, so with hygiene at top of mind, we’re also offering a sloping top that’s easy to clean and helps reduce dust and dirt accumulation on the upper shelf.

Some of the front-line people we spoke to talked about overloaded shelves.

It’s natural to pile on as much as you can when time and space are short, and when the shelves are made of cheap materials (or the brackets are too far apart) sudden collapse is always a possibility.

So we carried out testing which showed 95kg as a safe whilst generous shelf load (even allowing for people in a hurry!).

Also, we thought about support for these tougher shelves and made sure the new system has rails that run the full length of every shelf.

Well, at the risk of repeating myself, the easiest way to make sure you’re designing, specifying or fitting-out a safer store-room is to think HCAI.

Keep either of the meanings of that acronym in mind and your hospital will be cleaner and its patients will have a bit better chance of recovery without complications.

Introducing the new hole-less shelving

Easy to clean shelving that seals out bacteria with its seamless design, combatting infection risk.

To download product information or BIM files, view the product here.