Partition curtains and disposable curtains: uses and benefits

Curtains are an essential part of any hospital. Visitors might just assume they’re for privacy, and of course, that’s an important function. But partition curtains, whether fabric or disposable, are about so much more than protecting patient modesty. They can actually help prevent the spread of infection and make the hospital a safer and more sanitary healthcare environment.

Preventing infection

Partition curtains within hospitals are a neat and simple way of creating semi-private cubicles for patients. This provides a place for examinations, healthcare procedures such as catheter management, and for visitors to have some privacy with their loved ones.

Creating a semi-permanent room with partition curtains also discourages visitors from straying into other parts of the hospital. Children, in particular, are much less likely to run around a hospital ward if they feel like they have four walls around them.

This is important, as one of the ever present threats in hospitals is the risk of secondary infection. Bacteria can reside anywhere and on anything in the hospital, and while every effort is taken to encourage staff and visitors to sanitise their hands at all times, sometimes these precautions aren’t enough. Discouraging people from moving around areas they don’t need to be in helps to prevent the spread of bacteria, and thus helps reduce infection and loss of life.

The added advantage of partition curtains is that they can be removed and cleaned. Curtain cleaning is thorough and deliberately designed to kill bacteria. It’s difficult to apply the same rigorous cleaning to four solid walls with windows and plug sockets and any number of crevices for bacteria to hide in. When curtains are no longer sterile, they can be removed, washed, and replaced with a minimum of risk to patients, staff, or visitors.

Fabric partition curtains

Strong and durable fabric partition curtains are a popular choice for many hospitals. There are many advantages to fabric partition curtains, including the fact that they can be made to order with bespoke printed designs to suit the establishment.

Fabric can be treated in any number of ways to make it more suitable for the environment. To match stringent fire safety standards, particularly in healthcare environments containing oxygen or gas, fabric curtains can be carefully treated with fire retardant chemicals. The fabric used for partition curtains is rigorously tested to industry standards and more importantly, meets and exceeds the NHS standards for hospital curtains. The best hospital curtains discourage the growth and spread of infection, and are easily removable and cleanable.

Disposable partition curtains

When it’s absolutely essential that bacteria is eliminated, disposable partition curtains could be the ideal choice. Disposable partitions are still available in a range of sizes and fittings to suit any establishment, but they are removed and carefully disposed of and then replaced as needed.

Disposable partition curtains often have heat-sealed labels marking exactly when they need to be changed, to prevent overuse. So, even if the curtain hasn’t been contaminated during use, there’s a minimal risk of bacteria or dirt build up causing infection or illness.

Another added advantage of disposable curtains is the huge impact they have on a hospital’s laundry bills. Every load of fabric curtains takes an enormous amount of water, detergent, and energy to launder to safe standards. This may be a task that is only done three times a year; however, when curtains become soiled during daily use, this becomes more frequent.

Protecting the environment is a key consideration, especially in times of climate change concerns. Conserving water is beneficial to the environment, as is using less power. Avoiding the use of strong detergents also helps protect the country’s waterways and wildlife. Disposable partition curtains could help any healthcare establishment have a positive impact on its local community and environment.

There is the debate that disposable curtains, by their very nature, are a consumable item and therefore not great for the environment. However, most disposable curtains are recyclable and disposed of in a responsible way. Combine this with the power and water savings, and they could actually be helping the environment.

Another big attraction for hospitals when it comes to disposable partition curtains is the cost saving. Hooking, unhooking, cleaning and disinfecting fabric curtains four times a year means a lot of staff hours spent dealing only with curtains. The costs of the water and energy, plus the appropriate chemicals, add up quickly too. Disposables can eliminate some of these costs, so it’s well worth weighing up the pros and cons of both fabric and disposable partition curtains to discover which could save the most money, and have the most positive impact in the healthcare environment and the wider environment.

Saving lives

All partition curtains in hospitals have a crucial role to play in minimising the spread of disease and saving lives. Having curtains that fit the space properly and are perfectly suited to the needs of the healthcare environment goes a long way towards making any healthcare situation as beneficial to patient safety as it can be.

Curtains are regularly touched by staff, visitors, and patients. That means that they can be a reservoir for bacteria, although hospital safety standards do work to keep this to a minimum. Studies have found that 42% of hospital privacy curtains contained bacteria potentially capable of causing secondary infections, but because these curtains are easily removable, cleanable and replaceable, these risks are kept to an absolute minimum. There are no such advantages with solid walls.

The regular disinfecting of fabric curtains means that any germs that do find their way on to the fabric are frequently removed, making each cubicle as sanitary as possible. There are always incidents happening in hospitals, meaning curtains can end up splashed with substances including blood, urine, medicines, and vomit, just to name a few. The benefits of being able to quickly remove the “walls” of the cubicle and replace them with clean, sterile curtains cannot be overstated. Those harmful bacteria are quickly dealt with, allowing medical staff to concentrate on the important task of patient care.

Fabric partition curtains come with a five year manufacturer’s guarantee, giving even more piece of mind for hospital administrators and medical staff. When fabric curtains have to be replaced, there’s the reassurance that they can be replaced with equally high standard curtains, ready to be hooked straight back into the existing tracks and fittings.

Improving patient mood

Curtains which can be made in a variety of colours and fabrics can totally transform a cold and clinical space into a warm, welcoming environment that enhances the wellbeing and recovery of patients. It’s well known that most people are trepidatious about attending hospital, even for the most minor procedures or tests. Colour psychology clearly states that colours like blue are soothing and relaxing – that’s why social media employs them so much. They encourage a relaxed state of mind and discourage anxiety and the urge to bolt, which often accompanies a trip to the hospital.

Other brighter shades are now being employed in healthcare environments too, particularly in paediatrics where it’s so vital to create as much of a home away from home for children who may not really understand why they are in hospital at all.

Improving a patient’s mental state is beneficial, even if the condition they have is purely physical. Stress and anxiety can affect blood pressure, which can cause issues in many different conditions and diseases. For example, a pregnant woman awaiting blood tests or an internal examination will fare far better if she is calm and unworried. A completely blank, white environment can be intimidating, and may raise the blood pressure of the woman. This can lead to risks such as pre-eclampsia, or certainly lead medical staff to perform the requisite tests to check for conditions like this. This leads to the woman being in hospital for longer, which is bad for her and her state of mind, and time-consuming and costly for the hospital.

Having beautifully crafted partitions, whether fabric or disposable, can be the difference between a calm and happy patient who is in hospital for the minimum amount of time, or a stressed out patient who ends up under observation due to anxiety related symptoms.

Dignity

Finally, of course, the primary reason partition curtains are so necessary is to protect the dignity of patients. This isn’t just during procedures and examinations, either. Sometimes, a patient will simply want some quiet time alone with their thoughts. They might want to have a heartfelt phone conversation with a loved one without feeling like others are watching on. A doctor may need to deliver some news quietly. A nurse might need to pass a message along.

Being able to quickly and quietly cut off the rest of the ward is a benefit that cannot be overlooked. Patients are, first and foremost, people, and it’s important to remember that they have more than just their medical needs when they arrive at the hospital. Even in the most crowded ward, having a moment of privacy ensures they never lose their sense of self, and their sense of dignity.

Take a look at the range of partition curtains on offer. Any can be set up to work with existing tracks and fixings, and can be custom made to any size and requirements. Choose the right partition curtains for your hospital or clinic, and whether that’s disposable or fabric, we can guide you through your purchase and be on hand to help every step of the way.

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