The roll-out of a free new e-learning module on healthcare waste – set up by Health Education England – is set to bring major benefits to the care home sector, says leading independent healthcare waste management company Anenta.
The training – developed in association with Anenta to help all healthcare professionals – is seen as key to building better understanding of waste management in care homes, which have long struggled with managing healthcare waste effectively.
This is backed up by detailed compositional audits of care home waste undertaken both by Anenta and, separately, by the EA, which have proven that a significant amount of contamination exists in the various waste streams produced by care homes.
Worryingly, the findings show that 70% of care home waste is consistently put in the wrong waste channels including 90% of clinical waste and 35% of offensive waste, which is regularly contaminated with recyclable materials.
Further analysis of over 2,500 primary care Duty of Care audits by Anenta has also shown that 58% of healthcare professionals with responsibility for waste management are unfamiliar with the Healthcare Technical Memorandum, the latest iteration of which came out in March 2023.
This has resulted in inadequate training and waste management policies, contributing to poor segregation and spiralling levels of waste being incorrectly disposed of, costing the care home sector heavily, and hampering sustainable waste targets.
The new e-training module aims to address this and is being provided free to remove all barriers and gaps in understanding that currently exist within care homes and the primary care sector.
Created with the help of Anenta, the new 30-45 minute training module, available here, is accessible free of charge via the Health Education England online portal.
It outlines what waste should go into which waste stream, correct segregation practices, and other important waste related guidance. This helps prevent low-risk items, which should cost £300-£500 per tonne for disposal as offensive waste, from being disposed of as infectious waste, costing upwards of £800 per tonne.
Vitally, the training also helps avoid the risk of waste contractors refusing to make collections from care homes due to their ‘non-compliance’, which could put care services at risk of disruption. This is avoided through the correct completion of a Pre-Acceptance Audit (PAA), which in the case of most care homes needs to be undertaken every five years – unless waste produced on site changes in its nature.
Where a care home produces more than five tonnes of clinical waste annually, a PAA will need to be undertaken every 12 months, remaining valid until renewal date or unless waste types undeclared in the pre-acceptance audit are discovered.
Commenting on the roll-out of the new free training, Graham Flynn, Director at Anenta, said: “We’ve worked hard on the development of the new e-learning training module alongside NHSE, IPC, Local Commissioners, and industry experts. The result is a course that’s accessible by all, and a risk assessment that can be used by all care homes to inform the way in which their waste is segregated.
“The adoption of the training and correct segregation is critical if the care home sector is to cut costs and achieve Net Zero targets. Changing waste disposal habits and practices prevents the unnecessary and expensive disposal of waste via inappropriate and environmentally damaging waste streams, such as incineration; instead ensuring that the majority of clinical waste is disposed of using either alternative treatments, or energy from waste processes that render healthcare waste safe.”
Graham Flynn added: “On average care homes are wasting £8,000 every year through poor waste management process and procurement. The training will play a big part in cutting that figure by improving waste management among staff. Importantly, it will also help care homes with their PAA audit, without which their healthcare waste cannot be collected, potentially resulting in enforcement action by the Environment Agency.”
For more information about Anenta, and its care home audit app, which gives care homes the ability to conduct compulsory clinical waste pre-acceptance and duty of care audits without the need for third-party on-site visits, in just 40 minutes, visit www.anentawaste.com or call 033 0122 2143.