Environmental Services in Long-Term Care

environmental services nursing home
Hiring for fit is important in senior facilities as cleaning staff also develop close relationships with residents. Getty Images

Environmental services in long-term care (LTC) is more than just keeping a clean and safe environment. It is also about providing a home to residents. And given the older age demographic of residents, you know they come from a generation in which maintaining a clean home was of paramount importance.

According to Gary Dolan, CHESP, director of environmental services at The Village at Penn State, State College, Pa., "The greatest challenge an LTC environmental services team faces is embracing the psychological and emotional toll residential care puts on the residents and their families. The "nursing home" stigma is difficult to accept and overcome and staff members in all departments must work seamlessly to create a happy home for facility residents".

Dolan emphasizes the following.

Recruitment and Training

Hiring is no longer just about making sure someone has the technical or clinical competencies. The line between employee and friend can easily blur. And this is particularly true as consistent assignment emerges as a best practice. So employees need to be good listeners and adapt their work patterns to the needs of the residents.

Following hiring for fit, the employee should be trained in:

  • Bloodborne pathogens
  • Life safety
  • Emergency readiness
  • Hazard communication
  • General safety
  • Infection control
  • Sexual harassment
  • Workplace violence
  • Resident's rights
  • Abuse
  • Restorative nursing
  • Daily living activities

Cleaning and Surface Disinfection

Resident rooms are cleaned daily with particular attention to bed rails, phones, nurse call buttons and cords, remote controls, cabinets, bathrooms and door handles. Odor control is vital. Housekeepers perform daily cleaning tasks at the:

  • Main entrance and lobby
  • Visitors' restrooms
  • Offices
  • Therapy rooms


The majority of facilities operate an on-premises laundry. Because family members often choose to do their loved one’s laundry, communication with family members is essential. Linen is processed daily with soiled pickup and clean delivery performed in the early morning and mid-afternoon.

Other Duties

Environmental Service managers and their staff may also:

  • Set up and tear down function rooms
  • Perform hot water checks
  • Perform life safety checks
  • Conduct generator testing and inspection
  • Conduct monthly fire extinguisher inspection
  • Perform preventive maintenance and repair of kitchen and laundry equipment
  • Repair telephone, radio and nurse call systems
  • Maintain the HVAC system
  • Repair floors, walls, and ceilings

As culture change initiatives continue to grow environmental services might also find themselves responsible for any landscape additions and for their proper maintenance with established pruning and fertilizing schedules. Security and transportation, proper key control, door locks, and release systems may be other areas of responsibility that are coordinated with nursing and social services.

Proper environmental service management is essential to the resident quality of life and for infection control. That, in turn, is vital in reducing hospitalizations, re-hospitalizations, and resident illness.

Adapted from the American Society for Healthcare Environmental Services and Health Facilities Management.

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